Another national title banner went up at Rec Hall Sunday. And then Penn State started another season with a win.
The Nittany Lions (1-0) won seven of 10 bouts on their way to a 21-10 victory over Lehigh (1-1) in front of 6,237 fans who saw the PSU’s 2013-14 Big Ten and NCAA title banners raised to the rafters.
”I thought our effort was good,” head coach Cael Sanderson said. “I thought our freshmen went out there and went after it.
”I think their guys were pretty good in that position also. Freshmen did a good job in the third period and staying strong.”
Man of the match
It wasn’t always pretty for sophomore Jimmy Gulbion a season ago. He lost a lot early, and thus lost his confidence, on the way to a subpar campaign.
Sunday, he started his season successfully, as the eighth-ranked Lion upset Lehigh’s second-ranked Mason Beckman 8-3 at 133 pounds.
”I felt pretty strong,” Gulibon said following the match. “Little hesitant toward the end; I think I could have shot a little bit more. But it felt good.
Gulibon trailed early after Beckman scored the first takedown, but the Penn State grappler scored the bout’s next eight points. He tallied an escape, a takedown and then scored two back points to take a 5-1 lead into the second period, where he notched an escape and takedown.
”It was just fun to go out there,” Gulibon said.
”Jimmy’s good,” Sanderson added. “He knows how to wrestle, he’s tough and he did what he does. It was a good win for him.
Matt Brown knew he would have to be a leader off the mat this season. Sunday, he was a leader on it, too.
The Penn State 184-pound senior decked Lehigh’s Marshall Peppleman (a Cornell transfer) at the 4:01 mark of the second period with a cradle. It was the first and only pin of the day for the Lions.
”Obviously it’s a lot of fun and it makes it that much better to get a pin,” Brown said. “It was an amazing atmosphere.
”I think he was getting tired a little bit, and that’s something we were looking for.”
Penn State sent four freshmen to the mat for their Rec Hall debuts. The quartet finished the day 1-4.
Only Garett Hammond won, scoring a 8-3 decision at 157 pounds over Lehigh’s Santiago Martinez. The three other rookies, -- Kade Moss (141), Cody Law (157) and Matt McCutcheon (184) -- all lost.
”Experience is number one because you can work on something and work on something, but to actually do something different out on the mat, it takes confidence in what you’re doing,” Sanderson said.
”Confidence comes with experience, and you only get experience by having experience,” he continued. “We just need to tighten things up.”
Moss, a Utah native (like Sanderson), fell 8-2 to Randy Cruz before Law lost 2-1 to Dylan Milonas on riding time. Penn State’s 16th-ranked Zach Beitz (a sophomore) sandwiched an 8-2 decision in between the two freshmen, while McCutcheon fell by major decision, 10-2, to third-ranked Nate Brown.
”It was exciting,” Hammond said. “This is what I was looking forward to. I like competing in Rec Hall, so it was really exciting to go out there and compete.
No. 5 Penn State 24
No. 17 Lehigh 10
125: No. 12 Jordan Conaway, PSU, dec. Scott Parker, 4-3.
133: No. 8 Jimmy Gulibon, PSU, dec. No. 2 Mason Beckman, 8-3.
141: Randy Cruz, L, dec. Kade Moss, 7-2.
149: No. 16 Zack Beitz, PSU, dec. Drew Longo, 8-2.
157: Dylan Milonas, L, dec. Cody Law, 2-1.
165: Garret Hammond, PSU, dec. Santiago Martinez 8-3.
174: No. 3 Matt Brown, PSU, pinned Marshall Peppelman, 4:01.
184: No. 3 Nate Brown, L, maj. dec. Matt McCutcheon, 10-2.
197: No. 4 Morgan McIntosh, PSU, dec. No. 18 Elliot Riddick, 4-3.
285: No. 7 Jon Gingrich, PSU, dec. Doug Vollaro, 3-1.
Referee: John Hnath.
Ridge Riley Award winner: Jimmy Gulibon, 133.
Takedowns: Lehigh 8; Penn State 13.
Records: Lehigh 1-1; Penn State 1-0.
Saturday; Penn State at Pittsburgh, 7 p.m. Nov. 21.