Wrestlers on their own at PSU

Thomas Gallick

Coach Jim Andrassy generally wants each and every member of his team shouting encouragement whenever a teammate is on the mat, but this weekend he has different advice for the wrestlers.

Look out for No. 1.

The Flashes look to bring home as many individual titles as possible Sunday from the Penn State Open. The tournament is the largest open wrestling tournament in the country, with more than 600 wrestlers already entered.

“At a tournament like this I tell the guys to worry about themselves because it’s so large,” Andrassy said. “There can be up to 10 mats going at a time, and it’s hard to follow your team and take care of yourself.”

Andrassy said he is especially excited to see senior Kurt Gross and junior Obie Simpson for the first time this year, as they wrestle unattached to the team due to ineligibility. Gross, who earned NCAA tournament bids his sophomore and junior years, is academically ineligible, and Simpson needs to wait for his eligibility after transferring from North Carolina State.

Andrassy said Gross and Simpson will be eligible to start for the team by Dec. 29, when the program competes in the Southern Scuffle tournament at Greensboro, N.C.

The team enters the Penn State open after racking up two consecutive top-five team finishes to start the season. The Flashes finished third at the season opening Oklahoma Gold Invitational, and came in fourth at the Body Bar Tournament.

The wrestlers have not competed since Thanksgiving break, but assistant coach Josh Moore said the break was more of a benefit than a problem for the team.

“It’s always good to give the guys a three to four day break to get them rested and healthy,” Moore said.

Moore said he definitely thinks the team has accomplished its goals so far, but needs to keep improving throughout the season.

“We have more guys ranked nationally than ever before and more guys healthy than ever before, but we’re not happy with where we are,” Moore said. “We always want to be better.”

Four Flashes, freshman Nicholas Bedelyon and juniors Eric Chine, Danny Mitcheff and Jermail Porter, have all been ranked in the top 20 in their weight classes this year.

Andrassy said this accurately reflects the amount of talent on this year’s wrestling squad.

“The rankings just show we have a pretty good group of kids focused on accomplishing team goals and their own individual goals.”

Moore said he thinks upperclassmen Chine and Porter will step up and lead the team at this event.

The team will begin wrestling at the Penn State Open at 8:30 a.m. Sunday.

Contact wrestling reporter Thomas Gallick at [email protected]