While we cover wrestling around these parts, we don't often do previews of meets. Then again, Penn State is no ordinary opponent.
On Friday, Pitt faces a monumental challenge in the Nittany Lions.The meet is so big, in fact, that the Panthers are moving out of the Field House to the Pete for this one.
With good reason, too. The Field House has a capacity of under 7,000 while the Pete holds about 12,500. As of earlier this week, the athletics department had distributed more than 5,000 tickets and you can also expect a decent walk up crowd, too. Last year at Penn State, the event drew close to 16,000 people. While that many won't be in attendance on Friday, it's definitely a big deal and Penn State fans should help make for a big crowd.
Winning the meet won't be any easy task, of course, and the Panthers run the risk of dropping their second straight meet after falling to Lehigh last weekend. The Nittany Lions ranked fifth in the latest NWCA Coaches Poll and will be a stiff challenge. Beating Penn State would have been difficult regardless of the circumstances, but Pitt also goes into the matchup a little banged up. Further complicating matters is that two of Pitt's injuries are to a couple of the best wrestlers on the team.
Tyler Wilps, who apparently had a broken arm, has yet to wrestle this season. The team is also without Edgar Bright, who also hasn't gotten into a match so far. Both are ranked and Wilps, in particular, is arguably the best wrestler on the squad. Redshirt senior Troy Reaghard has done a good job in place of Wilps, going 3-1 at 174 pounds. But Ben Ross and Travis Shaffer haven't been able to fill Bright's shoes so far, and are a combined 0-4.
Ovearll, Penn State boasts an impressive eight wrestlers in the ten weight classes that are ranked in the Top 20. Pitt looks to have an advantage at the 184-pound class with No. 4 ranked Max Thomusseit, but other than that, finding additional clear advantages isn't easy to do. Still, Pitt is ranked No. 12 in the nation themselves and with five of their own wrestlers in InterMat's rankings, the Panthers are hardly a pushover.
Wrestling may not be your thing, but with what should be a great meet, it's a great chance to see Pitt in action.
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