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‘Routine as Usual’: Ahead of Big Stretch, Penn State Wrestling Star Beau Bartlett’s Preparation not Changing

It’s hard to see this as “just another stretch” for Penn State wrestling.

Sure, by the time it’s over, No. 1 Penn State will almost certainly have dual meet wins over No. 7 Ohio State and No. 2 Iowa.

But regardless of how far ahead Penn State is of everybody else in the college wrestling world— think Ricky Bobby in Talladega Nights before Jean Girard came along— the team’s two biggest dual meets of the season are within the next eight days, starting Friday night at 6:30 when Penn State takes on Ohio State at Rec Hall.

Individually, Penn State’s Beau Bartlett will be competing in possibly the two biggest individual matches for both meets.

Friday, the second-ranked wrestler in the 141-pound weight class takes on Ohio State’s Jesse Mendez, ranked No. 3.

The next week, Bartlett’s projected opponent is No. 1 Real Woods of Iowa.

This is a big stretch for Bartlett and Penn State wrestling, but is the team going to do anything drastically differently.

“No,” he told reporters with a laugh Tuesday. “Routine as usual. Keep going.”

Barlett knows that when team’s wrestle Penn State, that’s their biggest opponent of the season, whether it’s Iowa, Ohio State or Clarion.

“I think we’re the team people are coming after. So, I mean, we just have to stay ready. Stay ready for everyone. There’s really no one who will prepare more or prepare less for. There’s no easy matches. We get everyone’s best performance every time. Knowing that, I think the past four weeks, there have been some times I forgot that I’m going to wrestle their best match of the year.”

Case in point, Jan. 19.

Penn State took on Michigan, then ranked No. 11, in Ann Arbor.

As usual, Penn State rolled, pounding Michigan 27-9 and winning eight of 10 matches.

Bartlett won his match, but Michigan’s Sergio Lemley, then ranked No. 25, gave him all he could handle before Bartlett ultimately won, 7-5.

Bartlett didn’t mention that match specifically Tuesday, but it applied to what he said.

“They (opposing wrestlers) have the opportunity to have the highlight of their season,” Bartlett said. “They have a lot of fans and our selling out, whereas I’m just doing another away dual. I think that complacency caused me to wrestle in a way that I don’t want to wrestle. So, it’s just being aware of that. Everyone’s at their best. This is another week where we have an opportunity to wrestle and we’re prepared for everyone else to be ready to wrestle their best.”

Bartlett won’t have any reason to be complacent this week.

Although Mendez is the best opponent Bartlett will face on the season to this point, Bartlett said he isn’t altering his routine for this bout.

“No scouting,” Bartlett said. “I’m not doing any scouting. I really am just doing my own thing. I know he’s really good.”

The two know each other a little bit.

“We were from the same U20 world team a couple years ago, so I know him a little bit,” Bartlett said. “We were in Russia together. That’s pretty cool, and it’s really cool to see guys that come up from the age level world teams move on and continue to find success. That’s really cool, but it doesn’t really change anything. I’m going to get in my routine and do everything the way I want to do it, make sure I’m dialed in, and I’m going to go compete the way I want to compete.”

Bartlett is a wrestling junkie, and most of his preparation for big wrestling matches centers around, well, wrestling. But a more light-hearted part of Bartlett’s routine is to play Super Mario Snash Bros on the Nintendo Switch the night before a match.

Bartlett said the whole team plays it, and he’s quite good, albeit in a slump.

“I’m definitely one of the best players,” Bartlett said.  “I recently lost my title. I’m not the best right now, but I hope to come back. So that helps relax me.”

As Bartlett was talking about Super Smash Bros, he saw teammate Marco Vespa and was sure to shout him out.

“Marco Vespa is the number one Smash Brothers player I know,” Bartlett said with a smile. “That’s the champ.”

“No one can beat me,” Vespa responded.

“Not yet,” Bartlett said. “It’s coming.”

Mendez and Woods are coming, too. If Bartlett can get past those two levels, he’ll be the favorite to reach his ultimate goal: A national title.

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