Three Repeat Champions Lead Nittany Lion Wrestlers to Second Straight Big Ten Title
March 4, 2012
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -
The Penn State Nittany Lion wrestling team was simply dominating on Sunday, crowning three repeat champions in a perfect title match run and rolling to the team's second straight Big Ten Championship. Penn State was nearly perfect throughout the Sunday session and ran away from both Minnesota and Iowa in the team title race. Penn State has also qualified nine wrestlers for NCAAs with a tenth alive for an at-large bid.
For Penn State, the Big Ten finals were a major victory. Three Nittany Lions repeated as Big Ten champions with each posting bonus point victories. Three-time All-American Frank Molinaro (Barnegat, N.J.) became a two-time Big Ten champion at 149 with a tech fall over Minnesota's Dylan Ness, All-American David Taylor (St. Paris, Ohio) majored Iowa's Mike Evans at 165 and All-American Ed Ruth (Harrisburg, Pa.) majored Minnesota's Logan Storley at 174.
The morning began with the consolation quarterfinals and seventh place bouts, with seven Lions looking for very important team points. True freshman Nico Megaludis (Murrysville, Pa.) opened up Penn State's day and was upset by fifth-seed Levi Mele of Northwestern, getting pinned in sudden victory at the 7:35 mark. Red-shirt Dylan Alton (Mill Hall, Pa.) was up next for Penn State in conso semis at 157. Alton worked his way to a hard-fought 3-2 win over No. 18 Josh Demas of Ohio State to move into the third place bout later in the day.
Two-time All-American Quentin Wright (Wingate, Pa.) picked up important bonus points with a 9-0 major over Michigan State's Ian Hinton in the conso semis at 184. True freshman Morgan McIntosh (Santa Ana, Calif.) mounted a serious comeback against top-seed Sonny Yohn of Minnesota at 197 in the conso semis before dropping a tough 4-2 decision. Senior Cameron Wade (Twinsburg, Ohio) picked up more bonus points by pinning Indiana's Adam Chalfant in the conso semis at 285 at the 2:09 mark.
Two Nittany Lions wrestled for seventh place. Sophomore Frank Martellotti (Pittsburgh, Pa.) took on No. 18 Ridge Kiley of Nebraska for seventh at 133 with an automatic bid to NCAAs on the line. Martellotti locked up Penn State's nine automatic bid by riding out Kiley in the third and using the riding time point for a 4-3 win. The victory allowed Martellotti to place above seed in seventh. Junior Bryan Pearsall (Lititz, Pa.) closed out a very strong tournament with an 8-2 win over Purdue's Brandon Nelson for seventh at 141. Pearsall, who went 3-2 with a pin and a major, finished above seed in seventh and is 15-12 on the year. The junior is on the board to be considered for an at-large bid. The full field and brackets, including the at-large qualifiers, will be announced on Wednesday, March 7, at 6 p.m. on NCAA.com.
The afternoon's championship session featured the fifth, third and finals bouts at each weight. Megaludis posted a solid 4-1 win over Purdue's Camden Eppert and took fifth place. Molinaro was up next with his championship finals bout at 149 against No. 9 Dylan Ness of Minnesota. The Nittany Lion senior, still undefeated on the year and now a two-time Big Ten Champion, used a takedown, a reversal and four near falls to roll to a 15-0 technical fall at the 4:90 mark. Molinaro's dominating performance in a 3-0 weekend included a pin and two technical falls.
After Molinaro's fireworks, Alton stepped onto the mat at 157 to take on No. 9 Anthony Jones of Michigan State for fifth place. Alton posted a 2-1 tiebreaker win for a solid third place finish. Taylor was next for Penn State and last year's 157-pound Big Ten champion and the Lion sophomore made it two in a row with a dominating 11-2 major decision over No. 6 Mike Evans of Iowa in the 165-pound final. Taylor broke open a close match in the second period with a reversal and then added two takedowns and a near fall to post the 11-2 win (getting riding time).
Ruth then made it a perfect day for Penn State in the finals, posting a superb 13-2 major over No. 6 Logan Storley in the 174-pound title tilt. Ruth was in control from the start, leading 4-1 after one period and moving out to an 8-2 lead with a reversal and takedown in the second. Two two-point turns and nearly 5:00 riding time in the third pushed Ruth on to the 13-2 major decision.
Penn State continued to roll after its finalists were done. Wright posted an 8-7 win over Dallago of Illinois to finish third at 184 and McIntosh received a forfeit win in the fifth-place bout at 197, picking up two more bonus points in the process. Senior Wade closed out Penn State's championship run with a solid 4-3 win over No. 12 Mike McMullan of Northwestern to take third at 285.
Penn State won the team title going away, tallying 149.0 points to second place Minnesota's 134.0. Iowa was in third with 126.0. Penn State dominated the team awards as well. Not only did Penn State follow up its 2012 Big Ten regular season co-title, it won its second straight tournament crown. Nittany Lion head coach was named 2012 Big Ten Coach of the Year, earning his second straight nod. Taylor was named 2012 Big Ten Wrestler of the Year, earning his second straight Wrestler of the Year award. Molinaro was named 2012 Big Ten Championships Co-Outstanding Wrestler with Michigan's Kellen Russell. Ohio State's Logan Stieber was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year.
The Nittany Lions were superb on the day, going 13-2 overall and picking up nine more bonus points. The superb Sunday allowed Penn State to post an outstanding 31-11 overall record with 17.0 bonus points. Penn State ends the day with 10 place winners: Three champions (Molinaro, Taylor and Ruth); three third place finishers (Alton, Wright and Wade); two fifth place finishers (Megaludis and McIntosh) and three seventh place finishers (Martellotti and Pearsall).
Penn State's nine national qualifiers, and perhaps ten depending on an at-large bid for Pearsall, now head to St. Louis, Mo., for the 2012 NCAA Wrestling Championships on March 15-17. The three-day event takes place in the Scottrade Center and beings on Thursday, March 15, at 11 a.m. Central/12 p.m. Eastern. The Nittany Lions are the defending NCAA Champions.
The full season slate of live dual meet and tournament action will air locally on WRSC AM (1390 AM) with Friday evening duals being simulcast on WRSC FM (103.1 FM). Lock Haven's WBPZ (1230 AM) will also carry the entire season live, WIEZ (670 AM) in Huntingdon/Lewistown carries all Sunday events. The regular season schedule of radio broadcasts will be streamed live at www.GoPSUsports.com as part of Penn State's All-Access package. Fans are encouraged to follow Penn State wrestling via twitter at www.twitter.com/pennstatepat and on Penn State Wrestling's facebook page at www.facebook.com/pennstatewrestling. The 2011-12 Penn State Wrestling season is presented by The Family Clothesline.
Megaludis dropped a hard-fought 6-2 decision to second-ranked Zach Sanders of Minnesota in the semifinals and will take part in the consolation semifinals tomorrow morning. Megaludis is an NCAA qualifier.
In Sunday's consolation semi's, Megaludis met No. 10 Levi Mele of Northwestern. Megaludis got a late stall point to tie Mele up 3-3 in that bout but then was taken down and pinned at the 7:35 mark. The loss sent him to the fifth place bout where he met Purdue's Camden Eppert. Megaludis notched the bout's only takedown and rolled to a 4-1 win to take fifth place.
In the first round of consolations, Martellotti hammered Indiana's Joe Duca, posting an 8-2 decision courtesy of four takedowns. The win moved him into the consolation quarterfinals where he met No. 7 Chris Dardanes of Minnesota, the 4th-seed. Martellotti dropped a tough 6-2 decision to Dardanes.
Martellotti took on No. 18 Ridge Kiley of Nebraska for seventh place and a shot an automatic NCAA bid. Martellotti notched a first period takedown and overcame a locked hands call by riding Kiley out for the entire third period to earn the 4-3 win and an automatic trip to NCAAs, giving Penn State nine automatic qualifiers.
In the first round of consolations, Pearsall hammered 7th-seed Matt Ortega of Indiana. Pearsall gave up only two escapes on his way to a dominating 13-2 major decision. The win pushed him into the consolation quarterfinals where he met No. 9 Jake Sueflohn of Nebraska, the 5th-seed. Pearsall dropped a 5-2 decision to Sueflohn in the consolation quarterfinals.
Pearsall took on Purdue's Brandon Nelson for seventh place. The Nittany Lion junior continued an impressive tournament with a solid 8-2 win, placing above seed at seventh and keeping his hopes of an NCAA at-large bid alive. Pearsall will now await word of an at-large bid, which will come out when the bracket is announced on Wednesday night at 6 p.m. live on NCAA.com.
Top seed Frank Molinaro opened up defense of his Big Ten title with a swift and decisive pin of 8th-seeded Kaleb Friedley of Northwestern. Molinaro took Friedley down early, worked a tilt and then got the pin at the 2:18 mark. The win moved him into the semifinals.
Molinaro met No. 12 Ivan Lopouchanski of Purdue in the semis, the 4th-seed. The Lion senior had no trouble with the Boilermaker, rolling to a 15-0 technical fall at the 6:07 mark.
The three-time All-American took on No. 9 Dylan Ness of Minnesota in the championship finals. Molinaro notched an early first period takedown and turned Ness for three first period back points. Leading by five, Molinaro chose down to start the second, quickly reversed Ness and added two more near fall points for a 9-0 lead at the 1:30 mark. After that, the Lion senior turned Ness twice for three point near falls and posted a dominating 15-0 technical fall at the 4:90 mark, earning his second straight Big Ten title and picking up bonus points for the team race in the process.
Alton met Iowa's Derek St. John in the semifinals. St. John, an All-American last year, was the 6th-seed. St. John and Alton battled through an even 7:00, heading to sudden victory tied at 1-1. St. John countered a late Alton shot, forced a scramble and won the bout with a takedown with under :10 left, securing the 3-1 (sv) win. The loss moved Alton, an NCAA qualifier, in the consolation semifinals.
He took on No. 18 Josh Demas of Ohio State in the conso semis and worked a first period takedown to a hard-fought 3-2 win. The victory pushed him into the third place about against Michigan State senior Anthony Jones, who was ranked No. 9 nationally. Alton used a ride out in his tiebreaker session to post an important 2-1 win and take third place at 157, picking up one more team point in the process.
In the semis, Taylor took on No. 12 Conrad Polz of Illinois. Polz was the 5th-seed. Taylor posted his third bonus point victory, notching a convincing 12-0 major decision to move into the finals.
Taylor battled No. 6 Mike Evans of Iowa in the finals. The undefeated sophomore took a 2-0 lead into the second period thanks to an early takedown. After choosing down to start the second, Taylor reversed Evans and rode a strong 4-0 lead into the third period. In the third period, Taylor rolled over the Hawkeye, picking up a takedown and then, with just seconds left, another takedown and two near fall points. The late flurry and a riding time point gave Taylor a sizzling 11-2 major and earned Penn State another bonus point as well while winning his second straight conference title.
Ruth took on No. 10 Nick Heflin of Ohio State in the semis, the 5th-seed. The All-American posted his second major decision of the tournament by downing Heflin 15-7 to move into the championship finals.
The sophomore All-American met No. 6 Logan Storley of Minnesota in the finals. Ruth completely dominated Storley, using two first period takedowns to open up a 4-1 lead. A reversal and a third takedown in the second period allowed the Nittany Lion sophomore to lead 8-2 heading into the third period. Storley chose down to start the third and Ruth turned the Gopher twice for near falls and, with 4:54 riding time, posted an outstanding 13-2 major to win his second straight Big Ten title.
Wright battled No. 7 Josh Ihnen of Nebraska in the semis. Ihnen was the 3rd-seed. Wright could not muster a takedown and dropped a tough 3-1 decision.
The two-time All-American met Ian Hinton of Michigan State in the consolation semis. Wright picked up a huge bonus point with a 9-0 major over Hinton and moved into the third place match against Illinois' Tony Dallago. In the third place meeting, Wright battled Dallago in another tight one, this time coming away with a hard fought and important 8-7 victory to take third place.
McIntosh got a rematch against No. 3 Matt Powless of Indiana in the semis. McIntosh lost a close bout to Powless, the No. 2 seed, in the Southern Scuffle when a late takedown for McIntosh was reversed after the bout ended. Once again, a late score cost McIntosh as this time the Hoosier dove for a last second takedown to steal a 7-6 decision with just :03 left on the clock. McIntosh, a qualifier, will wrestle in the consolation semifinals.
A match-up with top-seed and 7th-ranked Sonny Yohn was McIntosh's first action in the consolation semis. McIntosh mounted a late comeback against Yohn but dropped a tough 4-2 decision and moved into the fifth place bout against Purdue's A.J. Kissel. Kissel was injured late in his prior match and took a medical forfeit, giving McIntosh two bonus points for the forfeit and earning the true freshman the fifth place finish.