NCAA champ provides insight on Penn State
When Penn State arrives at the Louis Brown Athletic Center on Sunday afternoon, it will be the first time Frank Molinaro will root against his former team.
“Nothing really changes, it’s just another opponent,” said Molinaro, now an assistant coach for the Rutgers wrestling team. “I want to win just as bad as they want to win with every aspect of the match.”
Molinaro’s Nittany Lion career ended last March with a national title at 149-pounds. In his tenure, he collected four All-America honors and two Big-Ten titles.
With all of the accolades he accumulated Penn State, one would think coaching against the same team he had success with would be a little bit of an adjustment.
As long as there is a chance to win, Molinaro will push for it.
“It’s not weird,” he said. “It’s more of a fun opportunity to compete against my friends because I was always super competitive with these guys when I was there.”
Penn State is currently ranked No. 3 this season with just one dual loss on its resume.
One reason head coach Scott Goodale brought Molinaro onto the coaching staff was to provide the program with an example of the work ethic a national title takes.
As the program continues to grow with the looming inclusion into the country’s best wrestling conference — the Big Ten —Molinaro represents the type of wrestlers Goodale wants in the fold.
“[They] don’t always start like that,” Goodale said of Molinaro. “That’s recruiting. You have to find those type of guys that have that type of mentality to go through the whole stretch. It takes time.”
While the Scarlet Knights have enjoyed a successful season — represented by their 14-3 record in dual action — the way both programs secure victories is what Molinaro preaches is essential for long-term success.
Penn State prides itself on scoring bonus points, and it only takes a look at both teams’ common opponent to see the difference in the programs right now.
Rider suffered a 48-0 loss to the Nittany Lions on Sunday, a domination by Penn State that included five pins and three major decisions.
Rutgers defeated that same Rider team, 25-3, Dec. 8 at home.
For the Knights to succeed in the Big Ten and beyond, Molinaro believes they need to emphasize more on securing bonus points.
“[Penn State is] ahead of the ball when it comes to scoring points,” Molinaro said. “People are catching on that you can’t win the NCAA tournament with Iowa-style wrestling. You need to be scoring bonus points.”
As far as the experience that comes with hosting last year’s National Champion, Rutgers can be confident knowing there is someone on their side with the same title.
Molinaro is more worried about how his new team fares against some of his old teammates.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how the kids respond to wrestling some of the top kids in the nation,” Molinaro said. “It’s really easy to say, ‘this kid is ranked No. 1 in the country and I can get my butt kicked and it not be a big deal,’ but I want to see our guys try to score points.”
For updates on the Rutgers wrestling team, follow Bradly Derechailo on Twitter @BradlyDTargum.