Blue White Illustrated

November 2021

Penn State Sports Magazine

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Page 45 of 67

4 6 N O V E M B E R 2 0 2 1 W W W . B L U E W H I T E O N L I N E . C O M Coach Cael Sanderson's lineup takes shape ahead of a promising new season A new Penn State wrestling season is almost here, and after crowning four national champs and finish- ing second at the NCAA Championships a year ago, head coach Cael Sanderson's program is ready to start its hunt for the top spot in 2021-22. All of last season's national champions return for Sanderson, who is entering his 13th season at the helm of a program that he's taken to the sport's highest levels. Penn State opens its campaign at the Journeyman Duals on Nov. 13, when it will take on Oregon State and Sacred Heart at the Spooky Nook complex in Manheim, Pa. The season's first dual meet is also the home opener, Nov. 18 against Army, and the Bryce Jordan Center is scheduled for Feb. 4 when Ohio State comes to town. A trip to the National Collegiate Duals in late December is a fun addition to the schedule; the Florida-based event is ab- solutely loaded with talent. The field is set to include six of the top seven teams from last year's NCAA Championships. Penn State will start its Big Ten slate with a trip to Maryland on Jan. 7, and later that month, it will face a grueling road stretch that includes a weekend of wres- tling at Michigan (Jan. 21) and Michigan State (Jan. 23), before a big one at the de- fending national champion Hawkeyes on Jan 28. The Nittany Lions have multiple ranked wrestlers per InterMat's preseason rank- ings, including a few who already lay claim to the top spot at their respective weight classes. Penn State and Iowa are the overwhelming favorites to contend for the overall title, and the sport appears to be in for another fantastic year overall, with all of last year's NCAA individual champs back and hoping to repeat. How will the Penn State lineup look this year, and who will the starters be? The team hadn't yet held its annual media day when BWI went to press, which means we had yet to learn whether anyone will be bumping up or down unexpectedly. With that caveat out of the way, here are our weight-by-weight projections for the 2021-22 season: 125 pounds The favorite: Gary Steen The skinny: Once bound for Pitt, Steen flipped his commitment to Penn State in January and now appears poised to start for the Nittany Lions as a fresh- G R E G P I C K E L | GPIC92@GMAIL.COM Coming Together WRESTLING Sanderson will be looking for his ninth NCAA team title at Penn State this coming season. His Nittany Lion wrestlers have won 27 individual national championships, including four last year. PHOTO BY JOE FARAONI/ESPN IMAGES

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