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Four Lions Head to All-Star Classic

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By Kelsey Detweiler, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The 2012 Penn State wrestling season kicked off on Thursday night in Rec Hall with the highly anticipated Intrasquad Dual that featured 24 of the 37 athletes on the Nittany Lion roster this season.

The in-house dual introduced a few new faces and welcomed back a handful of veteran faces as well. However, four of the most notable returning wrestlers did not participate in the midweek event. Senior Quentin Wright, junior David Taylor and sophomores Dylan Alton and Nico Megaludis sat this one out because they are preparing for another dual that is just two days away.

The group of Lions will travel and compete in the 47th Annual NWCA All-Star Classic at Bender Arena at American University on Saturday afternoon. The event is being presented by the United States Marine Corps.

The All-Star Classic is sold out for the first time since 2001 when the event was first instituted as an NWCA event. Many wrestling fans believe that the highly touted match between individual reigning national champions David Taylor and Kyle Dake, which will take place at the 165 spot, is a big reason for the increased anticipation.

Taylor took the national crown at 165 for the Lions last season, while Dake won the title at 157 for Cornell. Dake moved up a weight class this season and will be competing against the same pool of wrestlers as Taylor all season.

"He tweeted at me and told me that he wanted the red singlet, and I told him I wanted the blue singlet," said Taylor. "It's probably the biggest match of my college career and it will probably happen a couple of times this year so it's just always exciting to see those challenges."

Taylor said that he has been preparing all summer just as he would for the start of any other season, and that he's ready to go now than ever.

"I have the opportunity to wrestle one of the best guys in the country and that's all you can ask for as an athlete," said Taylor. "I'm ready to compete."

Twenty wrestlers were invited to participate in the All-Star dual of 10 bouts, and 11 of those participants are athletes out of the Big Ten conference. Both Megaludis and Alton will face familiar conference opponents at their respected weight classes.

Megaludis was the NCAA runner-up at 125 last season and is up against All-American Jesse Delgado of Illinois at 125. The Nittany Lion said that he hopes to continue to wrestle hard and establish his own standard early.

"Hopefully I can just set the pace and the tone and set it so that he doesn't want to wrestle me again, that's obviously the plan," said Megaludis. "My style is not going to change so hopefully I'll just let him know that I'm there."

Alton will face Jason Welch of Northwestern at 157. The senior Wildcat won this event last year and is looking to do the same. Alton earned his first All-America honors last season and finished in third place at the 2012 NCAA Championships.

Alton said that he's hoping his success during the postseason last year will continue over into the start of this season.

"I've just been training hard and I'm just going to wrestle like I wrestled at the NCAAs," said Alton. "I think I'm pretty good right now as far as conditioning is concerned so I'm just going out there right now and having fun and taking it to him."

The lone senior Lion headed to Washington D.C. for the dual has moved up a weight class this season as well. Wright will compete in the 197-pound bout for the event, and said that he will use his season-debut as the first building block to the rest of his schedule.

"Anytime you're wrestling different opponents and people you haven't seen before you always have a little of the unknown," said Wright. "Moving up a weight class, it's a good starting point to go out for the rest of the season and really gauge the things that you need to work on."

Wright said that he is flattered to have been invited to the event made up of just a hand full of elite wrestlers. He said he thinks that it is "cool" that his peers labeled him as an all-star, but that he's been called that since he was kid.

"My mom calls me a star too so that's just as important," said Wright. "She says everybody is special."

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