Reigning national champion shuts out Knights at RAC as program begins two-week break before postseason
With a questionable reversal in the books to cap Penn State’s 34-0 win against the Rutgers wrestling team, Jimmy Lawson gave a salute to the 3,557 fans in attendance, a move head coach Scott Goodale did not appreciate as he exchanged words with the Penn State heavyweight.
“I’m a coach, and he’s an athlete — and we shouldn’t get into it with each other, but I respect the sport and respect what we’re trying to do, and he should know better,” Goodale said. “That’s one I definitely wanted.”
Redshirt freshman heavyweight Billy Smith took a 1-1 tie against Lawson into overtime.
Both sparred in the overtime period, but no moves were made until the first tiebreaker period, in which Lawson started on top. Smith escaped from Lawson to go up, 2-1, but Lawson registered a reversal that left Goodale with a sour taste in his mouth.
It was a fitting end to what can only be described as a domination — a match illustrating the gap between a reigning national champion and a program trying to find its identity before its move to the Big Ten, where it will face Penn State annually.
“We’re a long ways away,” Goodale said. “We weren’t really close in those bouts. They’re just a good team top to bottom in all three phases — top, bottom and neutral [positions]. They apply a lot of pressure, and we have to get guys in here to match that — and that’s a hard thing to do.”
Despite the bonus-point emphasis assistant coach Frank Molinaro described as what separates his former program from a lot of teams, the Knights only let up one major decision and a pin in the contest.
But Penn State dictated the match regardless, and the 141-pound match may have been the biggest indicator of the gap between both teams.
Senior Trevor Melde had Penn State’s Brian Pearsall –— the Nittany Lions’ lone unranked grappler — in control with a 4-2 lead in the first period.
But with a sudden move, Pearsall controlled him, resulting in a technical fall to put the Nittany Lions up, 12-0, early on.
The 141-pound bout was Rutgers’ best opportunity to keep the match close, as senior 125-pounder Joey Langel and junior 133-pounder Vincent Dellefave each exited their matches without allowing bonus points.
With Pearsall being the only Penn State grappler not ranked in the match, his technical fall was indicative of the type of talent Rutgers has not experienced all season.
Senior 174-pounder Greg Zannetti, who lost by decision, 6-2, does not believe the talent difference is so vast.
“It’s not what the score shows,” Zannetti said. “We could have won some matches and maybe believed in it more, but I know with myself, I have to believe it — and you have to go out there and believe it — but I don’t think the score shows how good we are.”
Scott Winston, who missed the Knights’ last two matches with a leg injury, was one of the question marks that needed to be addressed.
The senior 165-pounder kept the match scoreless in the first period against No. 5 Andrew Alton, but Alton dictated the rest of the match and exited with a 10-3 victory.
“The third period got a little out of control, and I started doing some stupid things position-wise — and that’s why [the match] got like that,” Winston said. “I just need to continue to stay positive.”
It is hard to stay that way with this type of loss.
Rutgers has two weeks between now and the EIWA Tournament to find any conclusions that can be drawn from the match.
But one conclusion was arrived at, and it only took a glance at the scoreboard at the end of the match to see where the Knights stand with the best of its future conference home.
“It’s a different level of wrestling,” Goodale said. “Right now, we are in a stage as a program where we are trying to find All-Americans, and they’re preparing to win a national title and that’s the reality and the way they think right now.”
For more updates on the Rutgers wrestling team, follow Bradly Derechailo on Twitter @BradlyDTargum.