STATE COLLEGE - During the past five years, Seth and Zack Beitz have individually made their way to Happy Valley in quest of a lifetime goal. They wanted to be part of one of the top Division I wrestling teams in the country with eventually hopes of finding themselves in the starting lineup.
Up to this point in their careers, neither of the Beitz brothers has been able to break through the wealth of talent that the Nittany Lions have in their den. However, both Seth and Zack agree on one thing - if they had to do it over again, they would both make the same decision to become a Nittany Lion wrestler.
"It has been such a blessing for me just to be at Penn State," said Seth, a walk-on whose best high school finish was state runner-up. "Being with these guys and coaches in a great atmosphere. I couldn't have asked for anything more and I wouldn't want to be anywhere else."
"By far I think coming here was the best move for me to make to wrestle and get an education," Zack said. "I would definitely make it (the same decision) again and again. The atmosphere is perfect. You couldn't ask for anything more than to come into a wrestling room like this because everyone is willing to work with you to help you improve. On the academic side, Penn State is one of the best academic institutions in the country with great networking so I wouldn't ever second guess my coming here at all."
Unable to make the starting lineup thus far, both Seth and Zack have still managed to get on the mats many times in open tournaments. Although that isn't the same as being with their teammates in a dual meet situation, both former Juniata High School standouts said they have no problems with motivation when it comes time to wrestle.
"Everyone wants to wrestle out there (in Rec Hall), but we have a great fan base here and we still have fans shadowing Penn State wrestling when we go to the open tournaments," Seth said. "You still have that opportunity to look up in the stands and see some Penn State fans in the crowd. Even at the small tournaments, you still have those fans to cheer you on."
As for wrestling in the open tournaments, Zack feels the difference isn't that much of a motivational situation, but it is a different atmosphere.
"It is a little bit different," he said. "But after you get into the swing of things, your body gets used to it and you just get ready to go every match."
Seth, a junior, has posted a 34-11 record in two years of open tournament wrestling. Zack was 24-9 last year, his red shirt season and will wrestle as a freshman this year.
With both Andrew and Dylan Alton on the sideline still recouping from shoulder surgery, the door might have opened for Seth, who has become the bigger of the two.
"My plan right now is to get in a wrestle off at 157," he said. "Even though the Altons aren't going to be in there for a while, everyone else in those weight classes (149 and 157) is tough so it is still going to be a battle to earn the spot."
Listed as a 141-pounder, Zack realizes that he is among a lot of other talented wrestlers so the climb the ladder to a possible starting position is going be somewhat of an uphill battle. But his resume indicates taking it easy is not part of the program - he climbed the medal stand at Hershey four times as a high school wrestler, winning a title as a senior.
"141 is a deep weight class," said Zack. "But that is what makes it good because it is going to be a lot of fun just to be able to compete with everyone."
While some athletes have problems mixing athletics with academics, neither Seth nor Zack have experienced those difficulties.
"My academics are going real good," said Seth, who's majoring in Recreation, Parks and Tourism Management. "This is actually my last semester of classes and then next semester I am just going to be doing an internship.
As for his academic progress, Zack - an Energy, Business and Finance major - indicated that for him, it is not a problem to mix the classroom with the wrestling room.
"Classes are going well and I am really enjoying it," he said. "School is definitely important to me so I make sure that I get all of my work done."
As for unofficial bouts with his brother, Seth admitted that he and Zack go after each other from time to time.
"Sometimes it is just in the living room," he said with a smile. "We go after each other pretty good at times, but we don't let it get out of control."