Nittany Lion Wrestlers ranked No. 7 in USA Today/NWCA coaches poll

October 24, 2008

The Penn State Nittany Lion wrestling team, under the guidance of head coach Troy Sunderland, will enter the 2008-09 season ranked No. 7 in the USA Today/NWCA Coaches Pre-Season Poll. Penn State, which finished third at NCAAs last season, is still ranked among the nation's elite despite the loss of two All-Americans to graduation.

Defending national champion Iowa is ranked No. 1, followed by in-state rival Iowa State. Cornell (3), Ohio State (4) and Missouri (5) round out the top five. Nebraska (6), Penn State and Oklahoma State (T7), Illinois (9) and Michigan (10) comprise the rest of the top ten.

With five teams in the top ten, the Big Ten is once again seen as the nation's elite wrestling conference. Northwestern (11), Minnesota (12), Wisconsin (13) and Indiana (16) are also ranked in the top 25, meaning nine of the conference's 11 teams are in the pre-season rankings. The conference's other two teams, Michigan State and Purdue, are receiving votes as well.

With the release of the first Coaches Poll, the strength of Penn State's 2008-09 schedule becomes more evident. The Nittany Lions will face 11 of the country's top 25 teams (according to the poll), not including whomever the squad may face in the National Duals in January.

The Nittany Lions battle No. 1 Iowa in Rec Hall on Feb. 8; No. 3 Cornell in Ithaca on Nov. 21; No. 4 Ohio State in Rec Hall on Feb. 6; No. 10 Michigan in Ann Arbor on Feb. 14; No. 12 Minnesota in Rec Hall on Jan. 30; No. 13 Wisconsin in Rec Hall on Feb. 1; No. 15 Edinboro at the Sprawl and Brawl Duals in Binghamton on Nov. 23; No. 16 Indiana in Bloomington on Jan. 23; No. 21 Penn in Rec Hall on Feb. 20 and No. 25 West Virginia in Rec Hall on Dec. 14.

Penn State also faces three of the eight teams receiving votes: The Lions face Hofstra in Rec Hall on Nov. 16; Purdue in West Lafayette on Jan. 24; and Michigan State in East Lansing on Feb. 13. In all, 14 of Penn State's 17 set dual meet dates (not including the National Duals) are against teams ranked or receiving votes, a stunning figure.

As released by the NWCA earlier this week, six Nittany Lions are ranked individually: All-American Bubba Jenkins (Virginia Beach, Va.) is ranked No. 2 at 149; All-American Dan Vallimont (Lake Hopatcong, N.J.) is ranked No. 3 at 157; All-American Jake Strayer (South Fork, Pa.) is ranked No. 7 at 133; national qualifier Phil Bomberger (Port Royal, Pa.) is ranked No. 15 at 184; Brad Pataky (Clearfield, Pa.) is ranked No. 20 at 125 and David Erwin (Urbana, Ohio) is ranked No. 20 at 174.

The Nittany Lions, carrying the lofty ranking despite losing national champion Phil Davis and fourth-place finisher Mark McKnight, will open up its 2008-09 season by hosting Wrestle-Offs on Nov. 2 at 1 p.m. in Rec Hall. Admission to wrestle-offs is free. The home season opens on Sunday, Nov. 16, with a 1 p.m. dual against Hofstra in Rec Hall. Fans can purchase season tickets by calling 814-863-1000 or 800-NITTANY. Season tickets are $32 for adults and $24 for youth. Single event tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for youth. Penn State students get in FREE with a Penn State ID.

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Last Updated March 19, 2009