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Results tagged “Cael Sanderson”

New Nittany Lions Shaping Roster

By Brandon Pelter, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State wrestling head coach Cael Sanderson is always looking for those who give the team the best opportunity to find success and ultimately win a national championship. Last weekend, Sanderson introduced a new wrestler to the lineup.

Nick Lee, a freshman from Evansville, Indiana, made his Penn State dual debut with wins against Sal Profaci of Michigan and then-No. 20 Javier Gasca of Michigan State.

"I thought Nick did great," Sanderson said. "He's just consistent and that's what he does. He just brings a lot of energy with him and enthusiasm which is great for the team."

Lee went 4-1 at the Southern Scuffle just a few weeks ago, with his success as an unattached wrestler propelling him into the starting lineup, a similar path to that of NCAA national champion Mark Hall just a year ago.

"I would say it's a source of motivation that someone has done it before and has been through it before," Lee said. "(Mark) is kind of a source of experience that I can tap a little bit just to help me out."

The true freshman, who was homeschooled in his final year of high school, didn't visit Rec Hall until last year, but says it's an unparalleled experience in college wrestling.

"I never really paid attention to Penn State wrestling before I committed here," Lee said. "But, the first time I came to a dual here it was something else. It was a big surprise to me. I had actually been to a few college duals, but nothing like at Rec Hall. It's really a fantastic atmosphere and is probably the best fans I've ever seen."

While Lee gears up for his first performance in front of a Rec Hall crowd, he's ready to feel the energy that the fans provide, having visualized himself out there on the mat for a while.

"Just a lot of energy," Lee said. "A lot of people that wrestle in Rec Hall will tell you it's a lot of energy. Luckily for us, it's positive energy. Energy is energy I think though, so it'll be a little loud but I'm pretty excited."

The Nittany Lions also recently introduced a new member to the team. Carson Kuhn, a transfer from the now defunct Boise State wrestling program has joined the roster, now looking to compete at 125 pounds.

The journey wasn't easy for Kuhn, who had to graduate from Boise State before applying to a graduate program at Penn State before he could join the squad.  Kuhn, who is in his final year of eligibility has had a tough career spotted with injuries, but is looking forward to facing the top wrestlers in the nation at 125 pounds.

"It'll be exciting," Kuhn said. "I know that I'm at that level, I know I am because I've wrestled at that level for a long time. I wrestled at the U.S. Open a few times, at senior level tournaments, internationally and I've beaten top-ranked opponents before so I know that I'm at that level we just have to get the right training program and the right plan to compete my best."

When first contacted by Sanderson, Kuhn saw the name of his feature head coach at the bottom of the message and thought nothing but one thing - awesome. Kuhn, who is 25-years-old with a wife and baby girl, now enjoys being around all of his younger teammates in the room at Penn State.

"I'm kind of over the nerves of wrestling," Kuhn said. "I've done this for a long time so I'm just kind of excited. Obviously I want to set an example, but there is not much of an example to be set because everyone sets an example here. Everybody's on task and doing great. I am 25, I'm married and I have a baby girl so I'm kind of a little bit older, but it's fun to just jump in with these younger wrestlers."

The Nittany Lions are back in action on Friday night, hosting Purdue in Rec Hall at 7 p.m. before heading to Maryland to round out the weekend with a Sunday outing against the Terps at 4 p.m. Sunday.

"Our focus is on Purdue now," Sanderson said. "Purdue has tough kids, they wrestle hard. I think the last time they were here every match was a dog fight. They were ready to go and motivated so we've got to be ready to compete because they can be hard."

Beitz Thriving on an Opportunity


By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Entering the 2013-14 season after redshirting his first year with the Penn State wrestling team, Zack Beitz was unsure of whether or not he would get a chance to compete in any dual meets for the Nittany Lions.

With the Lions returning eight starters in a loaded lineup, Beitz figured his best chance to compete would be to challenge true freshman Zain Retherford for time at the 141 weight.

"You train for the opportunity (to compete) so you're always hoping for a chance," Beitz said. "I just focused on wrestling my best and controlling what I could."

While Retherford locked down the 141-pound spot, a new opportunity arose for Beitz instead. With Andrew Alton, the team's starter at 149-pound weight, out for the first half of the season following offseason shoulder surgery, head coach Cael Sanderson gave Beitz a chance to battle with sixth-year senior James English for time in the starting lineup as Alton's replacement.

After a tough start, Beitz has responded to the challenge admirably, going 11-7 for the Nittany Lions with a 5-3 record in dual meets despite starting off 0-2.

"I was excited because being a starter is something you train for," Beitz said. "I trained a lot over the summer and I didn't do anything too different, but I worked on fixing the small things."

Beitz's efforts have rewarded him with a No. 15 ranking in the country at 149, something the Mifflintown, Pa. native could not have predicted going into the season.

Coming off of an impressive 4-2 victory over 19th-ranked Caleb Ervin of Illinois, and with a 5-3 win over 18th-ranked Ian Paddock of Ohio State already under his belt from earlier in the season, Beitz has been making a strong case to be Sanderson's permanent starter.

Despite the recent success, Beitz isn't letting the national ranking distract him, instead keeping his focus on the things that he can control, such as continuing to improve his strength and skillset.

"It's a good feeling (being ranked) and it's exciting but I don't like to focus on the rankings," Beitz said. "I just focus on competing and let everything else take care of itself."

One reason Beitz hasn't spent much time focusing on his place in the rankings is the fact that for the majority of the season, he was too busy competing to stay in the lineup to worry about the opinions of anyone on the outside.

Though English was expected to receive the majority of the matches in Alton's absence, Sanderson decided to insert Beitz into the lineup for consecutive matches against Lehigh and Lock Haven, and despite wrestling tough, Beitz dropped both matches by a single point.

Instead of getting down on himself, Beitz refused to let his demeanor waver, something that he attributes to the support of his coaches.

"The coaching staff really helped me (after the first two loses)," Beitz said. "They told me to keep at it, to keep doing the same things that I was doing, and that winning would eventually happen."

Now that the winning has started to come to Beitz, the other person that he attributes his progress to is actually English, the wrestler that he has spent the majority of the season in competition with.

One of the team's co-captains along with senior All-American David Taylor, English has both challenged Beitz to reach his full potential while still offering him support and tips on how to fine-tune his moves.

"(English) is one of the nicest guys and the most experienced," Beitz said. "He's one of the hardest workers and he pushes me in the practice room by always being tough on top and being tough to scramble against."

Beitz has also had the benefit of having his brother Seth Beitz, a redshirt-junior, on the team and always willing to drill with him.

"It's awesome having (Seth) here," Beitz said. "He's always there to encourage me and to make sure I'm doing the right stuff and working on my moves."

Though he finally feels at ease being in the starting lineup, Beitz admitted that it's still surreal to think of himself as a starter on a three-time national championship team.

Easily the most nondescript guy in a lineup featuring ten nationally ranked wrestlers, the redshirt-freshman loves the feeling of being introduced at Rec Hall along with former NCAA Champions Taylor and Ed Ruth.

"It's awesome because those guys are household names," Beitz said. "Being on the same team as them is really cool."

Knowing that Alton was expected to return to the mat eventually, Beitz has taken most of the season one match at a time, not wanting himself to start thinking too far ahead.

Still, now that he is ranked nationally and starting to make his mark on the 149 position, the thoughts of competing in the Big Ten Tournament and the NCAA Tournament have started to creep into Beitz's head.

Nevertheless, the season plays out and how long Beitz remains a starter may still be up in the air, but the question of whether or not he can win for the Nittany Lions has already been answered.

"(Competing in the NCAAs) is the goal and I've been dreaming about it and getting excited abut it," Beitz said. "The more matches I have the more confident I get and the more realistic it seems. I'm working towards it."

Lawson Takes Step Forward in Second Season

Lawson_9612890.jpegBy Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- In the aftermath of the Penn State wrestling team's third consecutive National Championship last March, Jimmy Lawson couldn't help but feel bittersweet about his squad's victory. 

Although he was obviously pleased to be a part of a championship team, the heavyweight felt disappointed in own performance after tallying just one win of his own before bowing out of the tournament.

"I have the day I got eliminated (from the NCAA Tournament) and the exact time marked on my calendar," said Lawson. "I've been looking to do big things this year because we have so many great guys around me so how can I not give it my all."

Lawson has certainly been giving it his all so far this season, racking up a 16-2 record while solidifying himself as the undisputed starter after splitting time with Jon Gingrich last season.

Along with the motivation provided by last year's NCAA tournament, the redshirt-junior has benefited greatly from having spent the entirety of last summer at Penn State working on his technique.

Having transferred to Penn State last fall after spending two years playing football at Monmouth University, Lawson went through some natural growing pains last season as a result of having to adjust to the intensity of Division 1 wrestling on the fly.

"This year there has been a big difference because last year I didn't have a full summer to work out," said Lawson. "This year I had the summer camps plus I got to work one on one with some of the Olympic guys that hung around so that helped a lot."

Not only did the summer allow Lawson to gain more experience as a wrestler, it also allowed him to continue to build his already impressive physique.

Already one of the more fit and athletic heavyweights in the country, the Toms River, N.J. native added about 15 pounds of muscle during the offseason to bulk up to 265 pounds.

Even with the added size, Lawson likes to think of himself as a wrestler that utilizes his speed and quickness instead of just his strength.

"I take pride in being a hustler," said Lawson. "If you look at all the heavyweights that are ranked high they take shots and get guys tired and I take pride in outworking the guy I'm wrestling against."

Lawson's ability to outwork and outhustle his opponents has enabled him to score extremely high for a wrestler in his weight-class, as the heavyweight has already won three matches by major decision this year.

Defeating opponents handily instead of merely squeaking out wins was something that the junior strove to improve on heading into his second season with the Nittany Lions, and so far he has managed to do just that.

"If you want to get better and if you truly want to be great you have to go out there and regardless of whether you win or not you have to try and score points," said Lawson. "Just because you won doesn't mean you can be content."

The fact that Lawson still isn't content with where he is at despite the significant strides he has made is what has endeared him to head coach Cael Sanderson.

As a man who preaches constant improvement to even his most distinguished wrestlers, Sanderson said that he has been very pleased with the confidence and mindset that Lawson has displayed in his second year on the team.

"He's making progress every week and his attitude is better," said Sanderson. "You can see the kind of athlete he is with his power and his strength so the more confidence he gets the better he is going to be."

Currently ranked 12th in the country at heavyweight, Lawson will need to be as confident as ever this upcoming weekend when he takes on eighth ranked Adam Chalfant of Indiana on Friday before facing fourth ranked Mike McMullan of Northwestern on Sunday.

The fact that both wrestlers are ranked higher than him means nothing to Lawson, who is looking forward to continuing to prove he is among the upper echelon in his weight class.

"I don't really look at the rankings because they don't mean much," said Lawson. "All that matters is where you end up at the end of the year."

Lawson knows where he wants to be at the season's end, and that is standing on the podium as an individual NCAA Champion.

Before he can get a chance to redeem himself at the NCAA Championships, Lawson must first prove himself against two of his toughest conference foes, something the former defensive lineman is looking forward to.

"There's no reason for me to approach (this weekend) any differently," said Lawson. "It's definitely a great opportunity to go against two guys that I could see later in the year at the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments."



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