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
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
"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."