The Penn State wrestling program has been back practicing for the past four or five days, coach Cael Sanderson said, after having to pause team activities due to COVID.
The Nittany Lions had their opening match against Rutgers postponed, but they are set to host Michigan State on Sunday.
“We’ve been in the room for probably four or five days going, outside of the kids who had a positive test, of course, or that were potentially contact traced,” Sanderson said Tuesday morning. “But we’ve had a good number of kids in the room. We were on pause for a short amount of time, and then the kids that we felt, or the medical staff felt, that could get going, they got going up. It was a small group. But we have practice today, we had practice yesterday, we’ve been rolling. So, whoever is available and allowed to get in there and go, they’re going.”
The threshold to have a program go on pause is only 7.5 percent in the Big Ten, and as Sanderson mentioned, “When you have a small roster, it’s not difficult to get to that number.”
The Nittany Lions already have had their season opener postponed, so they’ve had to maintain their mental toughness and workouts to make sure they’re ready to go at any time.
That’s sort of the mindset of wrestlers anyway — to always be ready — but it still can create some obstacles while dealing with a pandemic.
“Mental toughness, I think, it’s just being able to, just the grit and the just the determination of being clear on what you want regardless of what obstacles appear,” Sanderson said. “Because usually obstacles don’t appear in the form that you would expect. I mean, that’s why they are obstacles, right, I guess. So, more than anything, just staying grateful for these opportunities because they’re going to come, and we’ll be ready when the time is here. And it’s here now.”