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Kiski's McCutcheon more than comfortable with Penn State

| Sunday, July 15, 2012, 12:51 a.m.
(Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review)
Kiski Area's Matt McCutcheon is declared the winner over McDowell's Khlique Harris in their 182-pound championship bout during the PIAA Class AAA Individual Wrestling Championships at the Giant Center in Hershey, Pa on March 10, 2012. McCutcheon became his school's first state champion with his 2-1 tiebreaker decision. (Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review)
(Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review)
Kiski Area's Matt McCutcheon waits to receive his gold medal from head coach Chuck Tursky after his victory over McDowell's Khlique Harris in their 182-lb championship bout during the PIAA Class AAA Individual Wrestling Championships at the Giant Center in Hershey, Pa on March 10, 2012. (Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review)

All his life, Matt McCutcheon has looked up to Penn State. Assorted blue-and-white memorabilia in his room validates that devotion.

And despite the seemingly endless swarm of scandal and shame that has rocked Happy Valley in the past nine months, McCutcheon remains loyal to the school and its powerhouse wrestling program, which landed the incoming Kiski Area senior as part of its 2013 recruiting class.

The wrestler with the fastest pin in school history — five seconds — didn't waste any time making his college decision. He gave Penn State a verbal commitment Friday, just hours after the school offered a scholarship. Other offers came from Pitt, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Penn.

“I know I made the right choice,” said McCutcheon, the Valley News Dispatch Wrestler of the Year. “I am proud to say I'll be a Nittany Lion. I love Penn State. I have Penn State stuff all over my room, bed covers and all. I couldn't be joining a better group of guys. Nothing that's happened in the past up there will change that.”

Having won back-to-back national championships, the Nittany Lions grapplers have been a bright spot in an otherwise dark time for the school.

McCutcheon had an historic junior season, becoming Kiski Area's first PIAA wrestling champion while going 41-1 with 31 pins. He won the 182-pound title in Hershey and is 120-12 in his career with a school-record 74 pins (and counting).

“Matt always wanted to go to Penn State,” Kiski Area wrestling coach Chuck Tursky said. “They've got the best wrestling program anywhere. It's quite an honor for Matt to get an offer from them.”

Penn State coach Cael Sanderson took notice of McCutcheon's success.

“(The coaches) came to my house and talked with me and my parents,” McCutcheon said. “It really seemed like a good fit for me. I will have some great practice partners. There are three national champions around my weight. The head coach is a four-time NCAA champion.”

Tursky wasn't surprised McCutcheon committed early. The way he sees situations with McCutcheon, there is no maybe — it's go full-speed or don't go at all.

“When he sets his sights on something, he goes after it,” Tursky said. “He believes he can obtain it. Last year, he was under a tremendous amount of pressure in the state tournament, but he wound up pulling it off.”

McCutcheon said he likely will redshirt his first year before competing for a spot at 184 pounds. He joins another recent recruit from the WPIAL in Derry's Jimmy Gulibon. Current PSU wrestlers with WPIAL ties include junior Frank Martellotti (Shady Side Academy) and sophomore Nico Megaludis (Franklin Regional).

Bill Beckner Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-224-2696 or bbeckner@tribweb.com.

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