Bryan Pearsall and Quentin Wright were among the core of young wrestlers that helped No. 1 Penn State (12-1, 7-1 Big Ten) build in head coach Cael Sanderson’s first year. The two seniors took to the Rec Hall mat for the last time in a dual with Rider on Sunday.
Both seniors put in strong performances that earned bonus points in Penn State’s 48-0 win over Rider.
“They’re the ones that got everything started here,” Sanderson said. “They bought into the system and that’s huge. You got to have guys on board.”
Seniors James English, Derek Reber, Andrew Church and Nick Fischer were also honored in the pre-match ceremony.
After missing last weekend’s duals with an injury, Pearsall stepped right back into the starting lineup in stunning fashion. Matched up against Rob Cigna, the Penn State senior took Cigna to the mat early and pinned the Broncos’ wrestler in 2:06 after focusing on getting Cigna in a cradle.
“It was nice for me personally to acknowledge the fans and know that I’m really grateful for all the support that they’ve given me over the years,” Pearsall said.
The Lititz, Pa. native said that he would have liked to get more mat time but he saw his opening and took his chance.
After starting for Bald Eagle Area high school and all four years in front of the Penn State fans, Wright also took to the mat for his final home dual.
The No. 2-ranked wrestler faced off against Donald McNeil. It took the senior just 10 seconds to earn a takedown and a 2-0 lead. After earning another takedown, Wright focused on his riding time, registering nearly 2:00. After two more takedowns, the senior earned a 12-4 major decision. As Wright walked off the mat, the Rec Hall crowd gave him a standing ovation.
“I’m blessed,” Wright said. “To have the fan support that I’ve had, I’ve been blessed with great teammates and a great coaching staff. Everything has just been a dream these past four, five years.”
The presence of both Pearsall and Wright has not only been felt on the mat during dual meets but also in the room during the week.
At 174 pounds, Matt Brown, who joined the team last season, said the seniors are an example to the whole team.
“They showed us how to get in there and work hard,” Brown said.
Both wrestlers reflected on their favorite moments at Rec Hall in their time at Penn State. Wright said Tuesday that his last second takedown over Hofstra was his favorite memory. Pearsall focused on last year, when he earned a cradle against Pitt with three seconds left.
With the season closing at Rutgers next Sunday and both the Big Ten championships and national championships to come, Wright said it hasn’t hit him yet that he wrestled at Rec Hall for the last time.
“It’s probably going to hit me first home match next season,” Wright said. “When you’re not allowed to weigh in.”