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Penn State Wrestling

‘I Love This’: Penn State Wrestling Looks Forward to Facing ‘Really Tough’ Nebraska Team

Penn State wrestling fans have grown used to the team’s biggest home dual meet of the season being at the Bryce Jordan Center.

Last year, PSU had two BJC Duals, hosting Iowa and Michigan.

The year before that, it hosted Ohio State, and also hosted OSU in 2020 before the pandemic.

Not only are the BJC duals usually against top-tier opponents, they’re usually held on a Friday night, too. But this year didn’t feature any of that. Due to scheduling conflicts with other events at the arena, Penn State’s best option  wrestled Rutgers on a Monday night. Coach Cael Sanderson’s comments to reporters the next afternoon suggested that he’d like the dual to return to Friday.

“I think Monday night is a really tough sell,” Sanderson said, “especially the toughest time of the year with a snowstorm and the day after the Super Bowl. We’re thankful that the people that showed up did.”

The good news for Penn State wrestling fans is that Rec Hall is beloved, always packed and will host Penn State’s two biggest dual meets of this season.

Penn State’s biggest home dual meet was against Ohio State early this month, and PSU dominated.

Now, No. 4 Nebraska comes in.

To be clear, no team in the country has a realistic shot against Penn State, but Nebraska might be the closest one. Sure, Nebraska did lose to Iowa early in the season, but it’s hard to imagine the Huskers being worse than Iowa was in Carver-Hawkeye Arena last Friday night when Penn State rolled to a 29-6 win. Nebraska has some of the best wrestlers in the country, with the best of them being Ridge Lovett, who ranks No. 1 at 149.

Nebraska was a thorn in Penn State’s side at last year’s Big Ten championships.

PSU’s Beau Bartlett— who is now the No. 1 wrestler at 141– was eliminated by Nebraska’s Brock Hardy, who now ranks No. 7 and is somebody Bartlett will likely wrestle again Sunday.

Former Penn State star Max Dean, who was the national champ at 197 in 2022, lost to Nebraska’s Silas Allred at Big Ten’s.

Allred is still at Nebraska and ranks No. 13. Unfortunately for him, he has to take on No. 1 and three-time national champ Aaron Brooks.

Plenty of Penn State fans saw what Nebraska could do last Friday.

Before PSU-Iowa, Nebraska hosted a top 10 opponent in Michigan. All it did was embarrass UM, 25-7.

With every Penn State meet, the question fans have is “how much will PSU win by?”

But Sanderson wouldn’t have gotten this program to where it is with that mindset.

“Nebraska’s always a really tough team,” Sanderson said. “We’re looking forward to that match, it’s not a surprise or anything looking at them coming into the season and what they’ve done for as long as I’ve been involved in college wrestling.”

This will be the third top-ten opponent Penn State’s had this month.

“I love this,” Bartlett told reporters Tuesday. “We have a lot of these great guys that we’re wrestling against. All of these top teams back to back to back. I think it’s really exciting. We get to make a lot of adjustments, and I’m doing my best to (have) a perfect match.”

Luckily, my best performances are still ahead of me, so I’m excited for that.”

For Sanderson, the key to another win is simple.

“A lot of these Big Ten teams have all been very similar,” Sanderson said. “We just have to go be ourselves and wrestle and score those tough points and win tough matches.”

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