Defying Expectations

Dec. 14, 2003

Being a wrestler isn't unusual, and neither is being an artist. But trust Penn State grappler and art major, Pat Cummins, when he says that friends, fans, and teammates find the athlete-artist combination somewhat bewildering.

"Yeah, people sometimes give me a funny look when they find out that I'm an art major because they really don't expect it," says the 6-1, 260 lbs. Cummins. "But I think it's a good balance for me."

But the starting heavyweight on the Nittany Lion squad doesn't let the expectations derail him from his love of art. He specializes in ceramics, doing, "a little bit of everything," including sculpting and pottery. After graduation, Pat hopes to possibly pursue a career teaching art, which would also allow him time to sell some of his pieces.

Pat, a fifth year senior, further defied the expectations of others last year when he had a breakout junior season. After recording a 6-6 record as a sophomore, and a 19-11 mark (mostly competing in open tournaments) as a reshirt freshman, Pat went 38-9 for the Lions and found himself ranked the No. 5 heavyweight in the country mid-way through the season. He went on to an impressive performance at the NCAA championships in March, which included wins over the No. 4, 6, and 10 seeds, on his way to finishing fourth and earning All-America honors.

In action

His success during the 2002-03 season opened doors for Pat over the summer. He was selected to participate on the All-American European tour team, which competed in several eastern European countries in July.

"The best part of the trip was getting to meet and talk to guys from the other teams, even though some of them didn't speak English."

Pat also traveled to Colorado Springs and the Olympic Training Center to help his former coach, and Penn State star, Kerry McCoy, train for the World Championships.

Pat attributes much of his success to the influence of his older brother, and Nittany Lion wrestling alumn, Ryan, who just completed his eligibility in the spring of 2003.

"Without him being here, I don't know how I'd be doing," Pat explains. "His awesome work ethic. I don't think he ever missed practice, even going to every double. He just worked so hard. With a few more chances, he could have been really good."

Pat caught on to Ryan's routine pretty quickly. The aspiring artist has put on 30 pounds since arriving in Happy Valley in 1999, and has worked his way to being a favorite for the 2004 national heavyweight championship.

The lessons he learned from Ryan, are the same ones Pat hopes to pass along to younger brother A.J., who joined the team in January after transferring from West Chester. During the spring semester, when all three Cummins' were on campus, the brothers shared a house, and, according to Pat, got along pretty well.

"Once A.J. came up, it was pretty neat. It was cool because all three of us hadn't been together in a while."

So far in the young 2003-04 season, Cummins has claimed two tournament titles in two chances at the East Stroudsburg Open and Mat-Town USA Invite in November. He's currently ranked No. 2 in the nation by W.I.N. Magazine.

"My goal is to keep winning, and win a national title," he declares.

For once, those people who used to give him funny looks should know exactly what to expect of Pat Cummins.