Lions ready for showdown with Iowa | News, Sports, Jobs

UNIVERSITY PARK — If Friday’s wrestling showdown between No. 1 Penn State and No. 2 Iowa were weather-wise, Tuesday would have been the calm before the storm.

A coach and two wrestlers for each team addressed their respective media contingents and no crossword was heard for the opponent.

Speaking at University Park were Associate Head Coach Cody Sanderson, 133-pounder Roman Bravo-Young and 197-pounder Max Dean.

“It’s just a match. These (rankings) don’t mean much.” said Bravo Young. “It’s going to be cool, fun. It’s more for the fans and people are building it online more than it really is. It’s not the main focus; It’s just the next game on the schedule.”

Head coach Tom Brands, 125-pounder Spencer Lee and 285-pounder Tony Cassioppi met the media in Iowa City, Iowa.

“Rankings are largely meaningless” said Lee. “It’s just a number that people put out to try and spice up games. Because at the end of the day, when two people go in the middle of the mat, you’re both 0-0 and the ref blows the whistle, it’s a seven-minute match and it’s a fight.”

Not exactly bulletin board footage ahead of a doubles meeting that most wrestling fans, even those outside of the respective Iowa and Penn State fan bases, have been circling since last fall.

The 8:30 p.m. doubles meet will be televised by Big Ten Network and promises to draw crowds beyond the 16,000 fans who will be crammed into the Bryce Jordan Center.

Neither team had yet announced lineups as of Tuesday, but that didn’t stop some fans spreading a rumor that Iowa would add a backup to the lineup at 125 and Lee would add a weight to wrestle Bravo-Young. RBY admitted to seeing these rumours.

“I get tagged with all that stuff all day. I mean, I don’t really care. If someone wants to wrestle, I will wrestle. It would probably make numbers; a lot of people would see it.” said Bravo Young.

“Or you could wait until after the season and do pay-per-view or something. All I care about is wrestling the best. I have nothing to lose against him. If he wants to wrestle, I will wrestle. I’m always scrap. That would be exciting. It’s something that would wake me up every day.”

Rumors aside, each team expects to send out their best available lineup. The potential matchups, based on each team’s best lineups, offer some enticing pairings (Penn State wrestlers listed first):

≥125: Gary Steen vs. #1 Lee

≥133: #1 Bravo-Young vs. #17 Brody Teske

≥141: #4 Beau Bartlett vs. #2 Real Woods

≥149: #13 Shayne Van Ness vs. #7 Max Murin

≥157: #9 Levi Haines vs. #15 Cobe Siebrecht

≥165: #5 Alex Facundo vs. #13 Patrick Kennedy

≥174: #1 Carter Starocci vs. #16 Nelson Brands

≥184: #1 Aaron Brooks vs. #12 Abe Assad

≥197: #4 Max Dean vs. #7 Jacob Warner

≥285: #2 Greg Kerkvliet vs. #3 Tony Cassioppi

Each of the coaches addressed what is sure to be an electrifying atmosphere.

“I think the environment is great. I mean you get 16,000 people in a 15,900 seat arena. That’s great”, said brands.

Sanderson has memories of fights against Iowa that stretch back to his days as a wrestler in the state of Iowa.

“I don’t know about extra adrenaline, but I would say excitement is the word I would choose. It’s a fun group to wrestle with. Her story is undeniable.” said Sanderson. “They bring a lot, I don’t know if I want to say that attitude, but they like to come with a certain excitement. I think it will just be a great meeting. It will be fun. 16,000 people, our fans, are looking forward to it.”

Brands said he knows his boys know what the rankings are but like Lee he said once the whistle blows these are just numbers.

“You speak of qualities. You know the rankings. You know what’s at stake. The environment is an opportunity. It’s a fun environment. That’s what you want” said brands.

“Competitors thrive in situations like this. The other thing is how much do you crave a challenge? Then, with that challenge in front of you, how much do you yearn to succeed? Do you want it to go your way? These are opportunities.”

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