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Who Were the Winningest Penn State Teams in 2017-18?

by on June 07, 2018 9:40 PM

Let’s start at the very beginning with wrestling.

It’s a very good place to start.

We set out to determine the win-loss record of every Penn State sports team in 2017-18, and gather them in one place.

Mission accomplished (see the chart below). 

It’s no surprise that Cael Sanderson’s wrestlers head the list. Again.

Sanderson’s Nittany Lions were unblemished in 14 dual meets, then won their third consecutive NCAA championship and seventh in the last eight years to earn honors as Penn State’s top team of the past sports season.

Russ Rose’s volleyball team had the top regular-season mark among Penn State’s women teams, going 19-1 in the Big Ten — a winning percentage of .950 — and 33-2 overall.

After wrestling and women’s volleyball, by winning percentage the Top 5 winningest teams in conference play in 2017-2018 were football (7-2, .778), field hockey (6-2, .750) and men’s volleyball (10-4, .714). Only three other Penn State teams had win-loss conference records of at least .500 last season — women’s soccer (6-2-3, .681), women’s lacrosse (3-3, .500) and men’s basketball (9-9, .500).

For overall wins, Rose’s squad led the way with 33, followed by Pat Chamber’s men’s hoopsters (26 on their way to an NIT title…and folks wanted to fire this guy?) and Guy Gadowsky’s men’s ice hockey squad (18).

For overall winning percentage, Sanderson (1.000) and Rose (.943) were followed by James Franklin in football (.846) and Char Morett-Curtiss in field hockey (.800). That's a good group of coaches right there.

The biggest losers were baseball, with an overall 15-34 record, and softball, with a 9-41 record.


In the chart below, we ranked each team based on its conference record — mostly the Big Ten, although the women’s ice hockey team plays in the CHA and the men’s volleyball team competes in the EIVA. Conference games count most, in my book.

We didn’t include any regular-season win-loss records for golf, cross country or track; they compete largely invitationals, tournament and large meets. And in the final postseason column, we should note that the NCAA outdoor track and field championships are ongoing in Eugene, Ore., where Penn State is still competing. Otherwise, the results are final.

Important to note here, too, that in the most recent Learfield Directors’ Cup standings, a barometer of an athletic program’s overall prowess, Penn State is ranked third in the nation. Penn State fields 31 varsity teams, making it one of the largest broad-based programs in the country.

The overall records of the Penn State men’s and women’s team are very similar:

The Penn State women had a combined 55-59-11 record (.484) in league play, while the men were 58-65-5 (.473). Counting both conference and non-conference play, the women had a combined mark of 151-117-15 (.560), while the men were 164-123-7 (.570).

As a program, Penn State was 315-240-22 in head-to-head games and matches in 2017-18 — a winning percentage of .565.

Here’s a complete look at each team’s record:

Mike Poorman has covered Penn State football since 1979, and for since the 2009 season. His column appears on Mondays and Fridays. Follow him on Twitter at His views and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Penn State University.
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