A four-time state champion in high school, redshirt freshman Jimmy Gulibon is working on adjusting his style to match up against other collegiate wrestlers.
While Gulibon went 134-4 in high school, transitioning to the No. 1 Penn State wrestling program has been a challenge.
After talking with assistant head coach Cody Sanderson after the Nittany Lion Open on Dec. 2nd, Gulibon decided to make the trip to the Southern Scuffle over New Year’s Day as an unattached wrestler. Since he was unattached, it meant that he couldn’t travel with the team or communicate with the coaching staff.
The Latrobe native was the sixth seed and took fourth place in the tournament, going 5-2 with three technical falls and a major.
Head coach Cael Sanderson said the Scuffle was important to Gulibon’s development as a college wrestler.
“He wasn't real happy with his performance at all, which is good,” Sanderson said. “The kid hates losing, he's critical of himself and he uses that to motivate himself.”
The redshirt freshman has had to turn his wrestling style into more of a tournament wrestler. With Jordan Conaway starting at 133 pounds for the Lions, Gulibon is using this year to train and work on his technique.
“I'm fine with redshirting, it's great, I feel that I'm getting a lot better from redshirting,” Gulibon said. “I've been improving a lot and I believe that it's making me a lot better.”
Fifth-year senior James English has spent most of his time at Penn State as a tournament wrestler. While he has missed two seasons due to injury, English is 6-1 in duals compared to 27-10 in tournaments.
English said the jump from high school wrestling to collegiate wrestling is a challenge for most wrestlers, especially due to the level of competition. In high school, he said you wrestle a good opponent once every month, but in college, it’s a different story.
“You sometimes almost get worse before you get better. You come in and you're learning a little bit of a new system with your college coaches, things aren't clicking as much as they used to,” English said.
While Sanderson plans to keep the redshirt on Gulibon for the rest of the season, he said he has liked what he has seen out of Gulibon so far.
“He's just a good, hard-nosed, tough competitor,” Sanderson said. “He's doing a great job, he's very talented. He's going to keep coming along and getting better. I'm real excited for him, give him the rest of the year to work out the kinks and he'll be ready to go.”