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2016 Big Ten Champions - Lions Win Fifth Conference Title

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VIDEO: Cael Sanderson Big Ten Championship Remarks

Big Ten Championships Session I Roundup | Big Ten Championships Session II Roundup


IOWA CITY, Iowa - Headlined by three individual champions, the top-ranked Nittany Lion wrestling team claimed its fifth Big Ten title with a dominant weekend performance inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Penn State earned Big Ten crowns from Zain Retherford (149), Bo Nickal (174) and Morgan McIntosh (197) en route to a commanding 23.5-point victory over host Iowa and the program's fifth conference title in the past six seasons 
on Sunday evening.

The Nittany Lions were a force during the two-day tournament in Iowa City, scoring six pins, two technical falls and eight major decisions on the way to 28 combined victories during the three sessions of action. Penn State tallied 23.0 bonus points at the Big Ten Championships and will take a great deal of momentum into the national tournament.

"I think, overall, we wrestled pretty darn well," said Big Ten Coach of the Year Cael Sanderson. "We lost a couple tight matches in the finals, but both lost to national champions. Our guys wrestled well. Three champions, and we have eight through (to nationals). We would have liked to have had 10, but you have to show up and earn your way...This was a great atmosphere. It doesn't get much better than wrestling the Big Ten Championships at Iowa."

Final Team Standings
1. Penn State - 150.5
2. Iowa - 127.0
3. Ohio State - 126.0
4. Nebraska - 117.0
5. Rutgers - 106.5

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Third-seeded Nico Megaludis finished second at 125 pounds following a sudden victory setback to No. 1 Nathan Tomasello from Ohio State in Penn State's first of a program-record six appearances in the Big Ten finals. Megaludis advanced to the final bout following a 4-3 victory in the first tiebreaker against Iowa's Thomas Gilman on Saturday evening.

He again found himself in a tight battle on Sunday. Takedowns were tough to come by in the title tilt. The two wrestlers each scored an escape point before the bout headed into overtime tied at 1-1. Tomasello scored the match's only takedown in a scramble on the edge of the mat for a 3-1 victory. Megaludis, who is 27-3 on the season, is a two-time Big Ten runner-up.

Junior Jimmy Gulibon earned his first trip to the Big Ten finals with a thrilling 3-2 win over top-seeded Micah Jordan and a 6-5 decision against fifth-seed Javier Gasca III on Saturday. Gulibon faced off with third-seeded Anthony Ashnault in the final match at 141 pounds. Ashnault used a big second period to power past Gulibon by a count of 9-0, but the weekend was a huge boost for the Lion veteran as he preps for the national tournament.

However, with the Lions needing a boost in the finals on Sunday afternoon, top-seeded and undefeated Zain Retherford took the mat against No. 2-seeded Brandon Sorensen in the final at 149 pounds. At the time, it was a pivotal bout in the team scoring with Iowa inching closer to Penn State, and the near-capacity crowd in Carver-Hawkeye knew it.

So did Retherford. The redshirt sophomore took a commanding 2-0 lead after a first-period takedown and powerful ride out. He notched an escape early in the second for a 3-0 edge heading into the third. Retherford never relinquished control of the match on the way to a 4-0 victory on the way to his first Big Ten championship.

"I just think our team is having a lot of fun being out there and competing," said Retherford. "The depth is awesome. The guys like to compete hard, and we are having a lot of fun this time of year. That is for sure...I've never done it before, so it was awesome today."

In a rematch of two of the sport's most decorated wrestlers, No. 1 Jason Nolf battled No. 2 Isaiah Martinez in the 157-pound final. Nolf pinned Martinez during the dual season, but the fans had this bout circled for the month of March.

The duo did not disappoint and put on a great show on Sunday evening. Nolf moved in on Martinez's legs on several occasions, but Martinez held him off. The match entered sudden victory knotted at 1-1. The bout entered a second sudden victory period tied at 2-2. Martinez earned a tiebreaker victory by virtue of 22 seconds of riding time in the second tiebreaker, claiming the Big Ten crown on criteria.

The Lions were far from done in the finals, though. Redshirt freshman Bo Nickal rolled past Zach Brunson of Illinois by a score of 18-9 in the 174-pound final. Nickal wasted little time taking command of the match, scoring two quick takedowns in the first period. The Texas native never looked back from there, completing a dominant run in his first appearance at the Big Ten Championships. In three matches, Nickal had two majors and a pin.

"This was an awesome experience," said Nickal. "The fans were great. Wrestling is my favorite thing to do, so I just went out there and had a good time. As a team, you have to go our there and compete, and we did that this weekend.

Senior Morgan McIntosh put an exclamation point on Penn State's title-winning day in Iowa by winning his second-straight Big Ten Championship at 197 pounds. A first-period takedown ignited the California native to a 3-2 decision against Iowa's Nathan Burak.

"It feels good to be a part of a team like this during my senior season," said McIntosh. "This is what I came here to do. I wish I could have scored a few more points and make it a little more exciting for the fans. But it feels good to get the win, regardless of how the match went. And to lock up that team victory, it was exciting."

With three individual champs on Sunday, the Nittany Lions now have 38 Big Ten titles among 23 different wrestlers in program history. McIntosh became Penn State's ninth wrestler to earn at least two Big Ten championships. As a team, the Lions finished just a half-point off of their all-time high score at the Big Ten Championships.

In all, nine Nittany Lions placed at the Big Ten Championships. In addition to the six Lions who placed in the top two, Conaway (133) finished fourth, McCutcheon (184) took fifth and Morelli (165) finished eighth. By virtue of their finishing spot, Megaludis, Conaway, Gulibon, Retherford, Nolf, Nickal, McCutcheon and McIntosh all qualified for the NCAA Championships, which begin on March 17 in Madison Square Garden.

"We had guys step up big time for us on the back side of the bracket, and they got some huge points for our team score," said Nickal. "I'm really proud of the team, and I'm excited to compete with this group of guys at the NCAAs in two weeks."

Focus now shifts towards the biggest wrestling weekend of the year, as the Nittany Lions will be seeking their fifth national title in six seasons.


Breaking Down the Nittany Lions

125: #3 Nico Megaludis (27-3) - 3-1 - Finished Second

133: #3 Jordan Conaway (26-5) - 4-2 - Finished Fourth

141: #8 Jimmy Gulibon (12-9) - 2-1 - Finished Second

149: #1 Zain Retherford (29-0) - 4-0 - Big Ten Champion

157: #1 Jason Nolf (29-1) - 3-1 - Finished Second

165: #7 Geno Morelli (19-10) - 2-3 - Finished Eighth

174: #1 Bo Nickal (29-1) - 3-0 - Big Ten Champion

184: #2 Matt McCutcheon (16-6) - 2-2 - Finished Fifth

197: #1 Morgan McIntosh (28-0) - 4-0 - Big Ten Champion

285: #8 Nick Nevills (6-3) - 1-2



Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

2016 Big Ten Championships Session II Roundup

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Session I Roundup - Video and Story

IOWA CITY, Iowa - The top-ranked Nittany Lion wrestling team flexed its muscle on Saturday evening with stellar performance in the second session of the Big Ten Championships inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Penn State will have six wrestlers competing in title matches on Sunday afternoon (4 p.m. on BTN) following a 6-1 effort in the semifinals. Nico Megaludis (125), Jimmy Gulibon (141), Zain Retherford (149), Jason Nolf (157), Bo Nickal (174) and Morgan McIntosh (197) will represent the Blue and White in the Big Ten finals.

In addition to the six Big Ten finalists, Jordan Conaway (133) and Matt McCutcheon (184) will compete in the consolation semifinals, while Geno Morelli (165) will battle in the seventh-place match.

Headlined by six pins, two technical falls and seven major decisions, the Nittany Lions tallied a 23-6 combined record during the two sessions on Saturday. Penn State notched 22.0 bonus points and will take a 27-point lead over Iowa in the team race into the final day of the tournament.

In the team race, the Nittany Lions will have six wrestlers in the finals, while second-place Iowa will have four and third-place Ohio State will have three.

Session II Standings - (Wrestlers Left in Finals/Consolation Draw)
1. Penn State - 133.0 (6 in finals, 3 in consolation)
2. Iowa - 106.0 (4 in finals, 5 in consolation)
3. Ohio State - 100.0 (3 in finals, 7 in consolation)
4. Nebraska - 98.5 (1 in finals, 9 in consolation)
5. Rutgers - 91.5 (1 in finals, 9 in consolation)

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Saturday night's impressive outing began in dramatic fashion when Nico Megaludis outlasted second-seeded and unbeaten Thomas Gilman from Iowa in the 125-pound semifinal matchup between the Lions and Hawkeyes in front of a boisterous Iowa crowd. Megaludis and Gilman entered the sudden victory period knotted at 1-1 after a tightly-contested seven minutes of wrestling. Megaludis advanced to the Big Ten title tilt with a clutch takedown in the first tiebreaker, clinching a 4-3 victory.

"He hung on a lot and really tried to slow things down," said Megaludis. "He was holding in tight on the tie-ups so it was harder to shoot. But I just waited for him to get tired and tried to hand-fight really hard."

Gulibon saved his best wrestling of the season for the time when it matters most, and he will represent the Nittany Lions in the 141-pound Big Ten title match. Gulibon trailed Michigan State's Javier Gasca III by a score of 4-2 following the first period.

Entering the third period down by a score of 5-2, the junior roared back with four unanswered tallies to win a thriller by a score of 6-5. Gulibon's third period included an escape and takedown. He rode out Gasca to accumulate 1:33 in riding time, which proved to be the clinching point.

From there, the combination of Retherford, Nolf and Nickal put on a show in Penn State's next three semifinal matches. Retherford tallied his second first-period takedown of the day with a fall at the 2:46 mark against Michigan's Alex Pantaleo. Nolf then rolled over Iowa's Edwin Cooper, Jr. in a 21-3 technical fall. The redshirt freshman's day included a pin and two techs. Nickal then capped off the string of mid-weight semifinal matches with a pin at the 2:28 mark.

"Coming in to this arena, the crowd gets into it, so that makes it fun to be out there," said Nolf. "I think it just comes down to the pace. I'm not afraid to go out there and shoot to score. Some people shoot just to make sure they don't get called for stalling. I shoot to get the leg and get a takedown."

"it was a great experience today," said Nickal. "Usually, the team with the most bonus points ends up with the team victory. That's something that all of us stress. We all go out there looking to win and do the best we can to help the team (score) as much as possible."

McIntosh became the sixth Nittany Lion to earn a spot in the finals with an 8-2 win over Nebraska's Aaron Studebaker. The California native will be searching for his second-straight 197-pound Big Ten crown on Sunday.

Sunday's action at the Big Ten Championships begins with the consolation semifinals at 1 p.m. ET. The championship finals will begin at 4 p.m. The finals will air live on BTN.

"Overall, our team is wrestling pretty darn good, but we have a lot of big matches left," said head coach Cael Sanderson.


Breaking Down the Nittany Lions

125: #3 Nico Megaludis (27-2) - 3-0 - Championship Match
Up Next:
Megaludis will meet top-seeded Nathan Tomasello from Ohio State in the title match.

133: #3 Jordan Conaway (25-4) - 3-1 - Consolation Semifinals
Up Next:
Conaway will wrestle Nebraska's Eric Montoya in the consolation semifinals.

141: #8 Jimmy Gulibon (12-8) - 2-0 - Championship Match
Up Next:
Gulibon will wrestle third-seeded Anthony Ashnault from Rutgers in the title match

149: #1 Zain Retherford (28-0) - 3-0 - Championship Match
Up Next:
Retherford will wrestle second-seeded Brandon Sorenson from Iowa in the title match.

157: #1 Jason Nolf (29-0) - 3-0 - Championship Match
Up Next:
Nolf will meet second-seeded Isaiah Martinez in the title match.

165: #7 Geno Morelli (18-9) - 2-2 - Seventh Place Match
Up Next:
Morelli will wrestle Iowa's Patrick Rhoads in the seventh-place match.

174: #1 Bo Nickal (28-1) - 2-0 - Championship Match
Up Next:
Nickal will wrestle third-seeded Zach Brunson from Illinois in the title match.

184: #2 Matt McCutcheon (15-5) - 1-1 - Consolation Semifinals
Up Next:
McCutcheon will meet Nick Gravina from Rutgers in the consolation semifinals.

197: #1 Morgan McIntosh (27-0) - 3-0 - Championship Match
Up Next:
McIntosh will wrestle third-seeded Nathan Burak from Iowa in the title match.

285: #8 Nick Nevills (6-3) - 1-2 - Tournament Complete



Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

2016 Big Ten Championships Session I Roundup

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IOWA CITY, Iowa - The top-ranked Nittany Lion wrestling team will have seven competitors in the Big Ten semifinals following a strong first session at the Big Ten Wrestling Championships inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Saturday.

Headlined by four pins and a technical fall, the Nittany Lions tallied a 14-3 overall mark in the first session of the tournament. Penn State pocketed 15.5 bonus points thanks to the four pins, technical fall and six major decisions.

Nico Megaludis (125), Jimmy Gulibon (141), Zain Retherford (149), Jason Nolf (157), Bo Nickal (174), Matt McCutcheon (184) and Morgan McIntosh (197) will represent the Nittany Lions in the semifinals on Saturday evening. The second session of the day begins at 7 p.m. ET with a round of consolation matches before the semifinals. Jordan Conaway (133), Geno Morelli (165) and Nick Nevills (285) will be take the mat first in the second round of the consolation draw.

In the team race, the Nittany Lions head into the evening with a four-point lead over Iowa. The Nittany Lions and Hawkeyes will have seven in the semifinals, while third-place Nebraska will have six in the semis.

Session I Standings - (Wrestlers Left in Semifinals/Consolation Draw)
1. Penn State - 74.0 (7 in semifinals, 3 in consolation)
2. Iowa - 68.0 (7 in semifinals, 3 in consolation)
3. Nebraska - 63.0 (6 in semifinals, 4 in consolation)
4. Ohio State - 43.5 (5 in semifinals, 5 in consolation)
5. Illinois - 41.5 (4 in semifinals, 6 in consolation)
5. Michigan - 41.5 (4 in semifinals, 6 in consolation)

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Penn State opened the morning with six victories in seven matches during the first round of the bracket. With the six wins, that sent nine Nittany Lions to the quarterfinals.

Megaludis kicked things off in quarterfinal action with a 10-2 major decision against sixth-seeded Johnny Jimenez at 125 pounds. The Nittany Lion senior used a takedown and four near-fall points in the first period en route to his second major of the day.

At 141, Gulibon became Penn State's second semifinalist with a dramatic 3-2 win in the second tiebreaker against top-seeded Micah Jordan from Ohio State. Gulibon and Jordan entered the first sudden victory period knotted at 1-1. Both wrestlers earned an escape point in the initial tiebreaker before Gulibon secured the decisive tally in the second tiebreaker.

"I felt really good throughout the whole match," said Gulibon. "At the end, I took that one nice shot in overtime. I thought it was two. I had the leg hooked and arms wrapped around both legs, but then I completely forgot about that stayed focus for the rest of the match."

Retherford followed Megaludis and Gulibon into the semifinals with a dominant 14-4 major decision over Minnesota's Jake Short. Retherford went 2-0 in the first session with a pin and a major.

"It's been good so far. I'm two matches in, and I'm feeling good," said Retherford. "...This tournament is a lot of fun. It's fun that it's in Iowa and Carver-Hawkeye. It's a lot of fun, and you just have to embrace it this time of year."

Immediately after Retherford's match, Nolf trotted onto the same mat and marched his way into the semifinals with a 20-5 (6:51) technical fall victory against Minnesota's Brandon Kingsley. The redshirt freshman was dominant in his first day at the Big Ten Championships, scoring a pin and a technical fall.

After earning a bye in the first round, Bo Nickal used a 10-point first period to scored a 15-3 major against Phil Bakuckas from Rutgers. McCutcheon then followed suit with a hard fought 6-2 win over Illinois' Jeff Koepke.

No one was more dominant than McIntosh during the first session. The senior wrestled a grand total of 3:07 in two matches on Saturday. McIntosh pinned Indiana's Jake Masengale (1:27) in the first round and Michigan State's Jacob Cooper (1:40) in the quarterfinals to make it seven Lions in the semifinals.

"It felt really good in the first match. The team is doing great," McCutcheon said. "It's exciting, and I just want to keep going now. It was a tough match against a very good opponent, and now we just need to all focus on the next one."

The semifinal round is always entertaining at the Big Ten Championships. The Nittany Lions will face Iowa wrestlers in three of their seven semifinal bouts. Action continues on Saturday night in Carver-Hawkeye Arena with the semifinals and wrestlebacks taking place beginning at 6 p.m. CT. The BTN will again stream Session II.


Breaking Down the Nittany Lions

125: #3 Nico Megaludis (26-2) - 2-0 - Tournament Semifinals
Up Next:
Megaludis will second-seeded Thomas Gilman from Iowa in the semifinals on Saturday night.

133: #3 Jordan Conaway (23-4) - 1-1 - Wrestleback Second Round
Up Next:
Conaway will wrestle against Indiana's Alonzo Shepherd in the second round of wrestlebacks.

141: #8 Jimmy Gulibon (11-8) - 1-0 - Tournament Semifinals
Up Next:
Gulibon will wrestle Michigan State's Javier Gasca III in the semifinals.

149: #1 Zain Retherford (27-0) - 2-0 - Tournament Semifinals
Up Next:
Retherford will wrestle against fifth-seeded Alec Pantaleo from Michigan in the semifinals.

157: #1 Jason Nolf (28-0) - 2-0 - Tournament Semifinals
Up Next:
Nolf will meet Iowa's Edwin Cooper, Jr. in the tournament semifinals.

165: #7 Geno Morelli (17-8) - 1-1 - Wrestleback Second Round
Up Next:
Morelli will wrestling against Bryce Martin from Indiana in the second round of wrestlebacks.

174: #1 Bo Nickal (27-1) - 1-0 - Tournament Semifinals
Up Next:
Nickal will wrestle fourth-seeded Myles Martin from Ohio State in the semifinals.

184: #2 Matt McCutcheon (15-4) - 1-0 - Tournament Semifinals
Up Next:
McCutcheon will wrestle Iowa's Sammy Brooks in the semifinals.

197: #1 Morgan McIntosh (26-0) - 2-0 - Tournament Semifinals
Up Next:
McIntosh will wrestle Nebraska's Aaron Studebaker in the semifinals.

285: #8 Nick Nevills (6-2) - 1-1 - Wrestleback Second Round

Up Next: Nevills will wrestle Brooks Black from Illinois in the second round of wrestlebacks.



Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Experience and Youth Lead the Way to the Postseason

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By Ryan Hickey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Heading into the Big Ten Championships this weekend, the Nittany Lions will rely on both their oldest and youngest wrestlers as the program seeks its fifth conference championship under head coach Cael Sanderson.

Having one more go-around, Nico Megaludis is excited that he still has one final chance to go out and win the 125 title. Coming so close in his last Big Ten Championships appearance where the senior finished runner-up, Megaludis doesn't think about that match too much and instead looks to the future and what he can control.

"I don't dwell on that. It's a new year, and obviously I want to win, so being in the past doesn't affect my wanting to win it any more or less," said Megaludis.

Megaludis compares wrestling in the toughest conference in the country to being in a high school state championship match week in and week out because of the level of competition that the Big Ten produces at each school. Having to constantly be at your best every week is something that Megaludis relishes in because he knows that experience is the biggest thing that prepares him for the postseason.

The conference tournament also provides an opportunity for wrestlers to see each other again and become familiar with each other's styles. With this knowledge, some wrestlers could come up with different game plans on attacking their opponent, which is something that Megaludis doesn't mess too much with.

"I just keep my own strategy," said Megaludis. "I mean, there's no reason to really change anything. You have to be smart if they have something crazy, but you just have to wrestle your own style."

For Bo Nickal, the regular season also allowed the freshman to become familiar with his competition, as he has already wrestled six of the 14 grapplers in the 174 bracket. Having a sense of knowing what to expect doesn't change the approach or mindset of the Allen, Texas, native, who keeps the same approach every time.

"No. Just stay the same strategy, just one match at a time and wrestle everybody the same, so it doesn't really matter if I wrestle him one time or one thousand times," said Nickal.

With the sensational performances of Jason Nolf and Nickal this season, Megaludis doesn't feel the need to provide advice for these freshmen about what to expect in the postseason because of the confidence they already carry with them.

"They are as experienced as you can get. They know what to do," said Megaludis. "We all just know what to do and it's pretty cool that you know that the [freshmen] know that they are the best."

With guys like Megaludis and Morgan McIntosh getting ready for their final Big Tens appearance, Nickal he is excited to get after his first Big Ten Championships appearance and is ready to compete. Having a full season of dual matches under his belt, Nickal's preparation for this upcoming weekend won't include much feedback from the dual season and instead, the freshman is just trying to focus on himself and how can get better.

The biggest lesson that McIntosh has learned throughout his years at the tournament is managing your body. The senior says each guy has to know they are going to feel tired and have to deal with little injuries throughout the weekend.

"It's important to know how your body's going to feel and you are going to be tired and you are going to get little injuries that you have to deal with and I guess that's one thing that I would want these guys to know that you are going to be hurting and it's going to feel like a little bit of a grind because the Big Ten Tournament is a tough tournament and you're going to wrestle tough guys. Every match is going to be a good match," said McIntosh.  

Confidence has been a big key for this group throughout the year, which has led to the whole team being loose. Staying relaxed has also allowed this team not to get fatigued at this point in the season, which is something that McIntosh credits to his coaching staff as well for keeping the whole team fresh all year.

"Yea I think we have a lot of confidence and we're just really enjoying the year. We try to have fun and just enjoy the whole process," said McIntosh. "Our coaches have a good system of peaking us for this time of the year and we are ready to go and we are excited and still having fun and we are not worn out at all."

Even though the outside pressure certainly ramps up during this time of the year, McIntosh and his teammates take each match with the same mindset. Facing big crowds before and constantly being the hunted throughout the season has helped this team not feel the pressure and instead, treat the Big Tens like just another match.  

"I think on a match-by-match basis, we shouldn't take it any differently," said McIntosh. "The atmosphere is definitely different and you have all of those different sections of the Big Ten teams cheering and getting loud and it's exciting, but we've had crowds like that and bigger at the Bryce Jordan Center, so I think we are used to an intensity level like that. We shouldn't be wrestling any differently because it's the Big Tens.

Being able to close out his career as a Big Ten champion one more time is the biggest goal for the senior. Winning his second would be pretty special.

"It would mean a lot," said McIntosh. "It's what I've wanted to do and just have fun with it and enjoy every last little bit of time I have left here."


VIDEO: Big Ten Championships Preview with Cael Sanderson (3/1/16)

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The top-ranked Nittany Lion wrestling team has reached the best month in the sport.

The Big Ten and NCAA wrestling champions will be decided in the next three weeks. First, the 14 wrestling teams representing the Big Ten will congregate in Iowa City on Saturday for the 2016 Big Ten Championships. The two-day tournament will crown the 10 individual Big Ten champs and the team champ in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Action begins on Saturday at 10 a.m. CT on Saturday. Penn State finished its regular season with a 16-0 record in duals and will head into the postseason with three wrestlers earning a No. 1 pre-seed for the Big Ten Championships. Penn State and Iowa shared the Big Ten regular season crown, with both teams finishing at 9-0 in conference duals.

GoPSUsports.com will be on-site in Iowa City throughout the weekend. Stay tuned for extensive written, video and photo coverage from the 2016 Big Ten Championships.

Leading up to Penn State's trip to Iowa, GoPSUsports.com spent time with head coach Cael Sanderson.



Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Nittany Lions Capture National Dual Meet Title

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By Ryan Hickey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With a palpable buzz in Rec Hall in anticipation of the top two teams squaring off, top-ranked Penn State continued to roll as they downed the Cowboys of Oklahoma State to capture the first ever NWCA National Dual Championship Series title.

With the main focus from day one being Big Tens and Nationals, it is easy to put a match like this on the backburner and focus on the postseason that's just two short weeks away. For Sanderson, the match was big for two reasons. Winning every match is always the goal, but even more importantly, the sixth-year coach believes his guys are wrestling at their best.

"This is a big deal to us. We want to win the dual championship, but it's more about getting ready as we are moving forward getting into Big Tens and Nationals," said Sanderson. "I think our guys are where we want them to be at this point."

Earning the national dual championship is something Sanderson is proud of when you look at the season his team had, going undefeated in the dual meet schedule for the first time since 1972. The 9-0 Big Ten record is also the second time in Penn State history that the team has not lost or tied a conference match.

"I think these guys had such a great year dual meet wise, dual meet after dual meet," said Sanderson. "You want to go out there and finish strong and if you don't finish strong, I think that's no fun, but they did a good job. I think they have to be happy moving forward."

The coaching staff was confident coming into the season of the talent that was on this roster. Receiving a boost with the return of Nico Megaludis and Zain Retherford along with the success from a couple of freshmen were the biggest keys to the unblemished record. The biggest takeaway in going undefeated for the first time in Sanderson's tenure was that the team kept grinding towards the end of the season when the schedule ramped up.

"I think we were confident with the team we had coming in. It seems like the last eight weeks, it was just tough team, tough team, tough team," said Sanderson. "It takes a lot of strength and character to continue to step up and wrestle well and not have a bad match here or a bad match there, so that's a real testament to these guys up here and the rest of the team."

Bonus points, just as they have all season long, played another big role in helping the Nittany Lions notch their 16th victory of the season. Tallying three pins on the afternoon allowed the Blue and White to make up for the fact that they allowed a technical fall as well as giving up six points due to an injury default.

"I think pins are huge in a big dual meet like that. Bonus points are huge, but more than that, I always say it's more about the attitude," said Sanderson. "If you are wrestling with some fire in your bones, bonus points will come and I think our guys are wrestling with some fire and they enjoy what they are doing out there and the result is going to be bonus points."

Starting off the bout for the very last time at Rec Hall was Nico Megaludis, who was able to close out his wrestling career at Rec Hall the same way he started it five years ago.

"I mean I don't like to show emotion, but I guess I did a little bit. It was my last match and it's pretty cool," said Megaludis. "I haven't been the biggest pinner in the world, and my first match here, it was against Bloomsburg my freshman year, I pinned the kid and then go out like this, that's kind of special."

The pin was just the redshirt senior's 17th career fall and his sixth in dual meets at Rec Hall. The pin came at such a rare time, it caught teammate Jordan Conaway off guard, who was forced to rush to get ready to wrestle.

"I was getting ready, but still had my clothes on and everything and everyone was going nuts and [Nico] somehow pinned him, so I had to hurry up and get ready to go," said Conaway.

Like all new events, there are always things that can be changed and ideas to make the championship the best it can be. Sanderson likes the idea of a dual championship meet and thinks the format of just one match compared to a tournament is better because it isn't as taxing on the grapplers by the time the postseason comes around. One thing this dual series does do is that it allows teams that don't usually matchup to get a chance to wrestle each other, which provides the extra excitement for the fans.

For Morgan McIntosh, it was special to be able to win the first ever dual meet national championship at Rec Hall in front of the Nittany Lion faithful, but the senior, like the rest of the team, realizes that this was not the ultimate goal and still have their eyes set on the big prize.

"It's exciting, but nothing like winning a team national title," said McIntosh. "It's exciting and we are happy and we are wrestled hard today and we wrestled to win and we are happy to get that win, but I think it doesn't really compare to the team tournament."


VIDEO: Wrestling Highlights and Interviews vs. Oklahoma State (2/20/16)

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Behind three pins, the top-ranked Nittany Lion wrestling team (16-0, 9-0 Big Ten) won the NWCA Dual Championship series title with a 29-18 victory over No. 2 Oklahoma State (13-3) inside sold out Rec Hall on Sunday afternoon.

The Nittany Lions claimed victories in six of the 10 bouts, including four wins featuring bonus points. Penn State tallied three pins - Nico Megaludis, Jason Nolf and Morgan McIntosh, and one technical fall - Bo Nickal en route to the dual national title.

With the dual season now complete, the Nittany Lions scored an undefeated season (no losses and no ties) for the first time since the 1971-72 season. Now, the team shifts focus towards the Big Ten Championships in Iowa City (March 5-6). Take a look at highlights from Sunday's win and hear from the Nittany Lions in the post-match press conference.





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Lions Set to Host Oklahoma State For Dual Championship

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11703891.jpegBy Ryan Hickey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - No. 1 Penn State and No. 2 Oklahoma State will square off this Sunday to determine who is the best dual meet team in the country in the first-ever NWCA Dual Meet Championship Series.

The first dual meet series pits the top eight Big Ten teams against the eight highest ranked conference winners. The winner of Sunday's dual match will be deemed as the 2016 NWCA Dual Meet Champion, as the Nittany Lions and the Cowboys are the highest ranked teams.


For the 21st time, the Nittany Lions and Cowboys will meet on the mat. While Oklahoma State owns a 13-6-1 edge in the series, the two have split the last two meetings, with Oklahoma State winning a tight match last season 21-18. Being unsure of who head coach Cael Sanderson's squad would be wrestling until Monday, Sanderson knew that whoever the opponent was, the team had to wrestle their best they have all season.

"They are all great times whether it's Oklahoma State or North Carolina State or Missouri," said Sanderson. "They are all great teams and we have to wrestle and be at our best regardless of who it is."

Having a chance to avenge their loss from last season, Sanderson is excited for this opportunity and is also thankful to be in this position where his team has a chance to be named the best dual team in the country.

"Oklahoma State has a great team. We wrestled them the last two years and we split with them. It's a very good team," said Sanderson. "We are excited for the opportunity obviously and grateful for the opportunity. Our guys really had a great year and they earned the opportunity to wrestle in the national championship dual, so that's the first of its kind so that's exciting and something that we are looking forward too."

Having a postseason dual like this has also brought up many other discussion questions, including the one of having a Big Ten dual championship. Splitting the regular season Big Ten championship with Iowa, the talk of having a regular season championship has been thrown around. Sanderson believes wrestling should model the conference split like football does, with an east and west division and having the winner of each wrestle for the title of Big Ten dual champion.

"Obviously, we need to a legitimate Big Ten champion and I don't think anybody wants to share a championship, but it's easier said than done," said Sanderson. "We meet every year and we talk about the same things every year as the coaches in the Big Ten."

The biggest risk in doing this is just extending what is an already long season. With wrestling being a different sport than football in regards to wrestlers trying to manage their weight, Sanderson believes this idea is easier said than done.

"The season is already long enough and when you start adding more and more dates, that's kind of the issue. You don't want a championship season to be two months long either," said Sanderson. "You don't want a Big Ten championship, then the dual championship, then the other Big Ten championship, at least that's my opinion. It's easier said than done when you're just adding more and more competitions."

Another tricky situation about having the dual championship is how close the match falls to Big Tens and Nationals. It is tough to move it up earlier because then you start to eliminate non-conference matches in November and December, which is something that Sanderson does not want to give up as his teams have wrestled some of the best teams outside of the Big Ten in the country. While the goal is to win the dual meet championship this weekend, Sanderson also has his sights set on the overall goal of the program, which is to be wrestling their best at Big Tens and Nationals.

"The main goal is a Big Ten championship for us and the national championship," said Sanderson. "This week is a real tough training week for us and next week is a real tough training week for us as we are getting ready for the Big Ten's and Nationals, but we want to be at our best and we want to finish this season strong with the dual meet championship and we have an excellent team coming in that's hungry and wants the same thing we want."

Oklahoma State enters Sunday with nine potential wrestlers ranked in the top 20. The Cowboys have two grapplers ranked No. 1 in their respective weight classes, led by two-time national champion Alex Dieringer at 165 and All-American Dean Heil at 141. With the rotation of Shakur Rasheed and Geno Morelli at 165, Sanderson has a big decision to make not just for Sunday, but for the rest of the season as well. 

"Dieringer is pretty good and two-time national champion, so it's a challenge for anybody that wrestles him," said Sanderson. "We are still playing with that weight class, but we are getting close, but it could be something we decide a week before the conference meet."

The biggest key for the Nittany Lions is confidence. Sanderson preaches to his team that you have to build confidence first before anything else and if you wait for confidence to come to you, you will get in trouble on the mat. If his team can go out and wrestle with confidence throughout the postseason, the sixth year coach is confident in the results that should come.

"Well if you go out and wrestle and do what you do everyday, it can build your confidence," said Sanderson. "You don't have to wait for everything to clear out and you just do what you know is right, and confidence comes. My encouragement would be just do what you know is right, do the right thing, wrestle the way you know and hustle and attitude and effort and confidence comes after that." 

VIDEO: This Week In Penn State Wrestling - Nick Nevills (2/16/16)

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The No. 1-ranked Nittany Lion wrestling team (15-0, 9-0 Big Ten) will host No. 2 Oklahoma State (12-2) in the 2016 NWCA Dual Meet Championship Series title event on Sunday at 5 p.m. inside Rec Hall (BTN).

GoPSUsports.com caught up with freshman Nick Nevills this week to talk about his first two matches for the Nittany Lions. Nevills went 1-1 over the weekend and is now ranked No. 16 at 285 pounds.






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Seniors Spark Big Ten-Clinching Win Over Spartans

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11691469.jpeg

By Ryan Hickey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For the final time in their regular season dual meet careers, Nico Megaludis, Jordan Conaway and Morgan McIntosh took to the Rec Hall mat in their blue and white Penn State singlets on Saturday.

For head coach Cael Sanderson, this group has meant a lot, as the trio has combined for 297 wins, seven All-American laurels and three national championships.

"They are all special in their own way, but I mean they are all just very consistent and quality all the way around. Guys that obviously we are going to miss," said Sanderson. "They've continued to get better and have continued just to do great things. They've had a lot of success in their careers as a team and as individuals."


Megaludis started the festivities off strong, tallying six takedowns in his 17-5 major decision over Mitch Rogaliner. The redshirt senior has set the tone for the Nittany Lions this season, which is something that Megaludis has done so well throughout his entire career.

"Nico, we talk about Nico all the time. From the first match to the last match, he's the same," said Sanderson. "He's going full speed ahead and has been a tremendous leadoff guy for us. All three, especially Nico, is a 3.5 plus student and going to be very successful in life."

Following the major decision, Conaway brought the capacity crowd to arguably the loudest it would be all night, pinning Garth Yenter at the 5:59 mark. The pin was just the second this season for the senior and the fifth of his Nittany Lion career. While Conaway is not a pinner, Sanderson isn't surprised by the outcome because the Abbottstown, Pa., native is peaking at the right time.

"I don't know if I was surprised. He's wrestling really well right now and he doesn't get a lot of pins, but we like him to get more, especially in this last month," said Sanderson.

For Sanderson, Conaway has been one of his favorite guys to coach because of the attitude the senior approaches every match with. Calling him a gamer, Sanderson says how Conaway doesn't get frustrated when a match doesn't go to plan and instead of panicking, he just keeps wrestling his style.

"If he gives up a takedown, he doesn't get frustrated and he just keeps wrestling. If things don't go perfectly as planned, he doesn't get frustrated and he just keeps wrestling," said Sanderson. "Those are the guys that are obviously the most fun to coach. Just a big heart and he's meant a lot to the program, but it's nice to see that big pin."

When looking at the past four years, Sanderson raves about Conaway's character and even went as far as saying if he had a daughter, she would want him to date a person like Conaway.

"Conaway is just a great kid. If you have a daughter, you want her to date him," said Sanderson. "He's just a great kid and works hard everyday and has had a lot of success and we are glad he came to Penn State."

The Nittany Lions hit their groove after the Conaway pin, as Zain Retherford tallied a 24-9 technical fall and Jason Nolf put the match away with a first period pin, his second in two days. McIntosh brought the sold out Rec Hall crowd to their feet one more time, pinning Jacob Cooper at 4:22. For McIntosh, the pin was extra special because he finally nailed a half, something that he's been working a lot on in practice.

"A half was always one of my favorite moves growing up, but I never really narrowed it down and got it to the point where I could do it to anyone, but it's something I've been working on and coach Cael has a great half series and he's been working with me on it," said McIntosh. "I'm just looking forward to Big Ten's and Nationals, where I can use those turns there and score bonus points for the team."

For the Santa Ana, Calif., native, one of the biggest things he will miss about wrestling for Penn State is the fan support the team receives every match. The most impressive part of the fan base for McIntosh is how far they travel to watch the Nittany Lions wrestle, which he attests is due to the style of wrestling the coaches preach to the team. 

"It's pretty cool. I don't think I could say enough about the fan base that we have. Growing up in California, we have great high school wrestling out there but no big programs like this, so I was never able to go to a big match like we have here and see the type of fan base that throughout our programs like this," said McIntosh.

For Sanderson, having McIntosh on the team has meant a lot to him, realizing the senior traveled across the country to wrestle for his squad.

"Morgan, he came all the way from California to wrestle at Penn State and was all the way across the country from his family and that means a lot to us," said Sanderson.

With the Big Ten Championships and Nationals just a few weeks away, McIntosh has his eye on the true prize and is happy to be on a team as talented as this one for his last go around. Being on a rebuilding team last season, the drive is even higher to win a national championship with this team this season.

"I am very grateful to be on a team like this for my senior year and I think we are going to win the title and I think everybody on the team is on the same page and they think so too," said McIntosh. "It's pretty cool to know that it's not over this year and it's going to get better and better after I leave. It's going to be fun to watch in these next couple of years."


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