Blue White Illustrated

Jan. 14 Newsletter

Penn State Sports Magazine

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Penn State gets back to practice this week a:er suffering its first dual meet loss of the season – a 22-15 defeat at Ohio State Sunday. While there are certain aspects in which the coaching staff isn't necessarily pleased – the Nittany Lions lost six of the 10 bouts – head coach Cael Sanderson said there is reason to stay "positive and optimistic." "Obviously you can leave there frustrated, thinking, 'Man, should've, could've, would've,' but our guys also had some great performances that gave us a chance to win that match, [like] Jimmy Gulibon [at 133 pounds], Matt Brown getting the fall [at 174] and Dylan Alton having a big win [at 157] in basically his second dual meet back against a kid who was unde- feated on the year," Sanderson said. "So we had every chance to win [the dual], even some of the [losses] with the excep- tion of 125. [Jordan Conaway] wasn't re- ally on his game, and we were a little outmatched at 141, but outside of those two matches we had a chance to win those. So there's a lot of positives to take away from that and it's something that as a staff we have to focus on those and stay optimistic and help these guys believe that they can win – win as individuals and win as a team. That's our job as a staff." His team has an opportunity to get back on the winning track this weekend when it travels to Rutgers for a 7 p.m. match Friday before returning home to wrestle Purdue Sunday at 1 p.m. Penn State will be favored to win both of those contests, but over the next month, it enters the roughest stretch of the dual meet schedule. Matches against Minnesota, Michigan, Iowa and Okla- homa State – all of which rank among the nation's top 15 teams – loom. Back-to- back wins this weekend vs. the Scarlet Knights and Boilermakers could serve as a springboard. "We knew when the season started that we're going to have to improve each week, and I think we've been doing that for the most part," Sanderson said. "We've got some big dual meets coming up, and I think we have a chance to win those dual meets, but it's going to be like the match we just had. We're going to have win the close matches." ANDREW ALTON NOTE With Dylan making a strong return to the lineup recently, finishing fourth at the Southern Scuffle and jumping out to a 2-0 dual meet record, focus has natu- rally shi:ed to brother Andrew and when he could possibly rejoin the starting lineup. Andrew, who, like Dylan, underwent off-season shoulder surgery, suffered another injury – unrelated to his shoul- der – this summer and recovery from that continues to hold him out of action. He was cleared in December to resume drilling, but it's still unclear when or even if he'll make a return to competition this season. "The sooner the better," Sanderson said. "He's in the room wrestling now [on his own], but I can't say when [he'll re- turn to the lineup]. But the clock is tick- ing." Sanderson added that Alton still must certify his weight, which is something that could be accomplished this week. And while the coaching staff is hoping to have the fi:h-year senior return to the lineup in the regular season, it's not a ne- cessity in order for him to compete in the postseason. "Technically he wouldn't have to wres- tle until the Big Ten [tournament]; he just wouldn't qualify for [an automatic NCAA qualifying] spot," Sanderson said. "He basically would have to go earn a spot and if he didn't qualify on his own, he's not going to get a wildcard with that being his first tournament." Since he's medically cleared to work out, Sanderson said the onus is now on Alton to prove that he's in the proper physical condition in order to compete. And that, he added, is simply a waiting game. "I've been around long enough to know that it's not up to me," Sanderson added. "It's not up to anyone else. It's up to An- drew and if he chooses, he could be ready to go. He's coming back from a major surgery, and that was right a:er he came back from another major [shoulder] sur- gery. He's a tough kid from a tough fam- ily." REDSHIRT REPORT The big news of the preseason sur- rounded the redshirts for All-Americans Nico Megaludis and Zain Retherford, but since it was announced that they'd take a season off, the 125-pounder and 141- pounder, respectively, have quietly slipped into the background for now. Asked for a progress report on Mega- ludis and Retherford Tuesday, Sanderson said "they're both doing great." "If I'm talking to anyone on our team and I'm asking who is the great example of commitment and diet and training and just lifestyle, those are the two names that would come up," Sanderson added. Recently, Megaludis has been focused mostly on freestyle competition. He'll compete again Jan. 17 at the 2015 Guelph Open in Ontario, Canada. Retherford, on the other hand, hasn't competed much during his redshirt sea- son a:er overcoming a minor injury ear- lier in the year. That is expected to change at the end of this month. He's aiming to compete in the Dave Schultz Memorial senior freestyle tournament in Colorado Springs, Colo., Jan. 28-31. J A N U A R Y 1 4 , 2 0 1 5 B L U E W H I T E O N L I N E . C O M 10 W R E S T L I N G T I M   O W E N | O W E N . T I M . B W I @ G M A I L . C O M A. ALTON Penn State suffers first loss of season; Andrew Alton working toward return

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