Ironhead's Wrestling Wrap

The Nittany Lions are at a crossroads in the season. With injuries to James Woodall and Josh Walker, Penn State’s lineup has taken a big hit. The current squad will have a tough time matching up with the caliber of wrestling teams heading to Cleveland for the National Team Duals this weekend.

The biggest news out of the wrestling room this week is that senior Jarrad Turner asked for a wrestle-off with redshirt freshman Steve Troup at 165 pounds. Turner beat Troup this week and will be inserted into the starting lineup. Turner has some explosiveness and more experience than Troup, but will be undersized at 165 pounds. Turner also beat out freshman Phil Bomberger in a wrestle-off this week. Bomberger will redshirt this season.

James Yonushonis retained his position as starter at 174 pounds, fending off wrestle-off challenges from Brian Cantalupi and freshman Neil Bretz, who will also be redshirting this season. Yonushonis has been struggling to get his offense going over the last month or so. Because Yonushonis is not a naturally gifted athlete, he has to rely on his conditioning and has to wrestle a nearly perfect match to stay close with some of the tougher competitors at this weight. Lately, Yonushonis has just been making too many technical mistakes to give himself a chance. But, Yonushonis showed his competitive nature in fighting off the challenges in the wrestling room this week.

Also this week, Chad Unger defeated A.J. Cummins in a wrestle-off for the backup role to Eric Bradley at 184 pounds. Bradley has been bothered by a bit of a biceps problem that has been painful. Bradley’s toughness, which has never been questioned, was reaffirmed with his dominating win, despite the injury, against a talented Joe Williams of Michigan State last Saturday night. The hope is that some of the other wrestlers will learn a lesson from Bradley — that in this sport, there is no sympathy. You either learn to wrestle through the pain, or you become one of the forgotten.

As Penn State continues to search for ways to plug it’s leaking lineup, don’t be surprised if you see Joel Edwards get a look at heavyweight. Edwards has a frame that could pretty easily handle 230 pounds or so. And with Phil Davis wrestling exceptionally well before his ankle injury, Edwards may be doing both himself and the team a favor by moving up.

The injury to Woodall prevents what would have been the intriguing match of Penn State’s first round matchup at the Duals from taking place. Matt Storniolo, who transferred to Oklahoma from Penn State just as the fall semester was starting, has been solid as the Sooners starter. The contrast of styles between Woodall and Storniolo would have been fun to watch.

Here’s hoping that Storniolo is somehow learning to grow up off the mat despite his transfer.

I can’t help but think Penn State let this kid down by allowing him to transfer so late with no ramifications for letting down his teammates and coaches at Penn State. Teaching a kid at this critical stage of his life that there are no consequences for your actions can be dangerous. I sincerely hope that Storniolo learns to handle his responsibilities and goes on to better things in life, but I think it’s going to be difficult for him to do that.

In the second round at the Duals, Penn State could face a West Virginia team that had to forfeit three matches in their previous meeting at Rec Hall this season. Do you think the Mountaineers would love that matchup?

It is going to take a truly astounding effort by the Nittany Lions to advance to Sunday’s action this weekend. Penn State could very go well two and out.

In next week’s commentary, I’ll talk about why, despite the troubles the program is going through right now, I think next year could be a banner season for the Nittany Lions.


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