Top Wrestler Gets Sixth Year

Penn State wrestling coach Troy Sunderland received good news this week when his top athlete, 184-pounder Eric Bradley, received a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA.

At the Penn State wrestling team's banquet last Sunday, co-captain Eric Bradley told the audience, "I truly believe that next year, we could be like Oklahoma State was this year, with like five national champs and maybe even more."

Then, he kiddingly added, "of course, that's only if Woody (149-pounder James Woodall) and I are back — otherwise it's probably going to be ‘rebuilding year.' "

Although the line got a large laugh at the banquet, it's safe to say no one wanted to test the accuracy of Bradley's statement. Penn State won't have to.

Head coach Troy Sunderland got the good news he was hoping for this week: the NCAA has granted Bradley a sixth year of eligibility because of medical hardship.

Bradley did not compete in wrestling his first three years at Penn State, redshirting as a freshman and then having his career declared over by medical doctors because of back problems.

However, Bradley received medical clearance two years later and won a Big Ten title at 184 pounds each of the last two seasons.

The first wrestling All-American from New Hampshire, Bradley will likely return as the favorite to win the national championship in his weight class this season. Bradley finished fourth at the NCAA tournament in St. Louis this past March and will be the highest returning place-winner next year.

Sunderland said, "We're obviously pumped up right now and I know he's relieved to have this out of the way and is excited about next season."

Penn State is still awaiting word from the NCAA regarding James Woodall, who has also applie for a sixth year of eligibility because of medical hardship.

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