It has been a long 634 days since Penn State last took the mat in front of its home fans in Rec Hall.
The Nittany Lions are more than grateful for the support of their fans and are eager to wrestle in front of them again when they host Army Thursday.
Junior Creighton Edsell, who earned two victories for the blue and white Saturday, is looking forward to wrestling in front of Penn State fans in Rec Hall.
“I'm really excited,” Edsell said. “I remember going back to the Maryland dual last year when there was just family there. It was just weird.”
According to the 165-pound wrestler, he expects the crowd to bring high energy levels with them when they enter Rec Hall.
To Edsell, that energy the fans bring can be felt all throughout the matches.
“Mat returns, takedowns, you can feel the fans behind you which is just amazing,” Edsell said. “It just gives you that little more energy and focus in the match.”
Edsell, who previously wrestled at 184 pounds, is back to competing at his more natural weight of 165.
“I feel a lot better at that weight,” Edsell said. “At 184 it obviously was not my weight class, so I'm excited to see what I can do at my own weight class and see where it goes from here.”
Assistant coach Cody Sanderson is also excited for his team to wrestle in front of fans again.
More importantly, though, he is grateful for their support.
“We are just excited for this week,” Sanderson said. “We are always grateful for the support that we have at Penn State and going out in front of that crowd at Rec Hall or the Bryce Jordan Center, wherever it might be.”
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Penn State has one of the most prominent and extensive athletic programs in the entire country.
The environment generated by fans in Happy Valley in particular is a unique one according to the Penn State assistant.
“I think maybe the word is a little cliche, but it is just electric,” Sanderson said. “We come in there, it's dark coming out through the hallway, then we come in and then there's the crowd and there's the screens.
“It is just an enthusiasm that is just hard to replicate.”
In Sanderson’s opinion, the Nittany Lion fans are an extremely knowledgeable group that appreciate the talents on the team.
Sanderson not only hopes to channel that energy and use it to the team’s advantage, but that it offers an added pressure on opposing teams as well.
While Sanderson stressed his gratitude for the loyal Penn State wrestling fanbase, the past season helped put into perspective the role they plan.
Sanderson has been with the program since 2009, and the shortened 2020-21 season was the first he, or anyone, had experienced without the blue and white faithful.
“It feels great, but we had a full year of not feeling,” Sanderson said. “Sometimes, I think you take things for granted, and that's something that we're not going to do.”
The unwavering support from the Nittany Lion fan base may have made it easy to take them for granted but do not expect that to happen again any time soon.
Penn State is known for its showmanship, and it will be on full display this season with the return of fans.
“We are going to cherish this time that we have back with our fans, and hopefully, we can put on a show,” Sanderson said. “We want our guys to go wrestle hard, we want them to go score points and make sure that this is a memorable experience as everybody returns back from COVID.”
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