By Bob Bonett
In what is being coined as the biggest match in Hofstra wrestling history, the Hofstra Pride will welcome the seventh-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions to the Mack Sports Complex on Dec. 10.
Just a few weeks removed from the program's best win in its history, the Pride look to continue their ascent up the wrestling polls, potentially moving higher than fifth in the nation with a victory over Penn State.
Penn State, sitting at 3-0 with three impressive victories to date, will be wrestling for the same respect as Hofstra, as the two top ten teams look to garner some first place votes in the upcoming poll.
For Hofstra coach Tom Shifflet, the expectations for Hofstra are greater than they have ever been.
"Honestly, we are going in with confidence," Shifflet said. "We want to win the match against Penn State, and we expect to win the match."
This match will be no easy test for the Pride, though.
Despite Hofstra's recent phenomenal victory over top ranked Minnesota, Shifflet and his wrestlers acknowledge Penn State's status as one of the best program's in the country, and surely do not think this will be any easy victory.
"There will be a lot of close, important matches, just as the situation was against Minnesota," Shifflet said. "Penn State is a deep, talented team, and is coming here looking to win."
With a victory over the Nittany Lions, it is almost certain that there will be utterances across campus deeming this Hofstra wrestling team the best of all time. Already in control of one first place vote in the recent wrestling poll, continued success against top ten talent will enable Hofstra to continue its case for being one of the best programs in the country, despite its relative anonymity in comparison with other top five teams.
Regardless of pre-match expectations and predictions, though, the nation will be looking at Hofstra as the underdog at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, a role that Hofstra is certainly able and willing to fulfill.
The Pride feel like the best squad in the nation, though, despite what the country may think, as they look to make a statement on their home turf this week.
And with a win, perhaps the Hofstra wrestlers will walk off the mat on Sunday at the top of the sport, able to call the rest of the wrestling nation the new underdogs.