Fresh faces in PSU lineup help in win
STATE COLLEGE — Luke Gardner, Creighton Edsell and Brody Teske know what it’s like to toil in anonymity in the Penn State wrestling room, grinding away while the starters get the attention and the acclaim.
On Sunday in front of a Rec Hall sell-out crowd of 6,490, each of those three had his chance to step out of the shadows and into the spotlight for the first time. Each of them delivered in their dual-meet debuts.
No. 1 Penn State extended its dual meet winning streak to 60 matches with a 45-0 shutout of Navy in the season opener for the Nittany Lions. Penn State used four falls, a technical fall, a major decision and four decisions to fashion the shutout. A 29-3 edge in takedowns helped the cause.
“I didn’t really come into the match with a lot of expectations. I was hoping our kids would compete hard. We won some close matches. Navy wrestled tough,” Penn State coach Cael Sanderson said. “We want to see our guys win. Generally, it’s a lot easier to build off of success. These guys did a nice job. We’re happy with the way they competed.”
Gardner made the most of his debut, scoring two takedowns, locking up a near cradle and scoring a fall in just 1:46. “I’ve just been staying the course and doing everything the coaches asked me to do, so when the time presented itself, I jumped on it, and I’m very grateful for that opportunity,” Gardner said.
The redshirt junior from Pottsville has been kept out of the lineup by Zain Retherford for two years and then Brady Berge and Jarod Verkleeren last year.
He admitted to experiencing some pre-match nerves that assistant coach Cody Sanderson helped him work through.
“Coach Cody got me ready. He’s like, ‘work on your breathing.’ It’s very different (than) wrestling in the room. Wrestling every day is something that you’re just used to,” Gardner said.
“But then you come out here and wrestle in front of so many fans, and lights and stuff it’s a lot different, It kind of gets your blood going a little bit. I worked on my breathing beforehand and calmed myself down. I knew I had a job to do and I went out there and did it.”
For Edsell, a redshirt freshman from Wyalusing, this opportunity presented itself when starter Shakur Rasheed was kept out of the lineup from what Sanderson said was part precautionary and part recovery from ACL surgery Rasheed underwent after the NCAA tournament in March.
Edsell scored the first takedown of the bout and entered the third period tied at 2. He escaped and then went on the defensive. Late in the match he scored a counter takedown for a 5-2 win.
“I was pretty confident I knew he wasn’t going to score. Getting that last takedown was what I really wanted, not to sneak out a 1-point victory,”Edsell said, before talking about what his first win, in front of a raucous crowd, was like.
“It was definitely an awesome feeling, definitely very energetic. It was something I never felt before. I came from a really small town. We didn’t really have that back from where I’m from. It was very awesome. It felt like home, really.”
Teske, a redshirt freshman, earned the nod at 125 and used a late stall point to pull out a 2-1 win at 125. He figures to battle two-year starter Devin Schnupp for the 125-pound job.
The dual meet started at 141 and Penn State jumped out to a 12-0 lead with pins by No. 3 Nick Lee in 6:16 at 141 and then Gardner. No. 1 Mark Hall added a fall in 58 seconds at 174 and No. 1 Anthony Cassar scored a fall in 4:41 at 285 pounds.
Top-ranked 165-pounder Vincenzo Joseph raced out to a 14-3 lead after a period en route to a 20-5 technical fall in 6:02. No. 3 Roman Bravo-Young used seven takedowns in a 17-6 major decision.
Kyle Conel, the transfer from Kent State, made his Penn State debut with a hard-fought 4-3 win at 197. And, Bo Pipher, subbing in for No. 6 Brady Berge at 157, escaped with two seconds left to secure a 7-6 win.
Penn State, obviously not yet at full strength, will next take the mats on Sunday at the Black Knight Invite at West Point, New York.
“We didn’t wrestle at our best. I’m sure they didn’t feel they wrestled at their best,”Sanderson said. “It’s November. That’s kind of to be expected.”
No. 1 Penn State 45
(Sunday at University Park)
141: No. 3 Nick Lee, PSU, pinned Cody Trybus, 6:16.
149: Luke Gardner, PSU, pinned Jon Park, 1:46.
157: Bo Pipher, PSU, dec. Scout Skidgel, 7-6.
165: No. 1 Vincenzo Joseph, PSU, won by tech. fall over No. 11 Tanner Skidgel, 21-5 (6:02).
174: No. 1 Mark Hall, PSU, pinned No. 17 Spencer Carey, :58.
184: Creighton Edsell, PSU, dec. Andrew Buckley, 5-2.
197: No. 3 Kyle Conel, PSU, dec. Jacob Koser, 4-3.
285: No. 1 Anthony Cassar, PSU, pinned John Birchmeier
125: Brody Teske, PSU, dec. Logan Treaster, 2-1.
133: No. 3 Roman Bravo-Young, PSU, maj. dec. Casey Cobb, 17-6.
Ridge Riley Award winner: Vincenzo Joseph.
Takedowns: Navy 3; Penn State 29.
Records: Navy 2-2; Penn State 1-0.
Next match: Penn State at Black Knight Invite, 10 a.m. Sunday at West Point, New York.