Nittany Lion Wrestlers Claim 2011 Big Ten Championship
March 6, 2011
EVANSTON, Ill. - The Penn State Nittany Lion wrestling team was nearly perfect on day two of the 2011 Big Ten Wrestling Championships, going 5-0 in the championship finals and winning the school's first ever Big Ten wrestling championship. Five wins in the finals and key bonus points in consolations helped spark Penn State to a one-point victory over runner-up Iowa.
Sophomore Andrew Long (Creston, Iowa), junior Frank Molinaro (Barnegat, N.J.), freshman David Taylor (St. Paris, Ohio), freshman Ed Ruth (Harrisburg, Pa.) and sophomore Quentin Wright (Wingate, Pa.) each claimed Big Ten crowns at their weights while senior Brad Pataky (Clearfield, Pa.), freshman Andrew Alton (Mill Hall, Pa.), freshman James Vollrath (Richboro, Pa.) and junior Cameron Wade (Twinsburg, Ohio) each picked up key points and bonus points in consolation action to help Penn State claim the crown.
Penn State won the title with 139.0 points while Iowa was in second with 138.0. Penn State crowned five champions while the Hawkeyes crowned two. Minnesota was third with 109.5 while Wisconsin was a close fourth with 103.5.
Head coach Cael Sanderson was named the 2011 Big Ten Coach of the Year after leading Penn State to the first title in school history. Sanderson's squad went 17-1-1 in dual meets and tied a school record with six Big Ten dual wins (going 6-1-1). Taylor was named both Big Ten Wrestler of the Year and Big Ten Freshman of the Year for his undefeated run through the regular season and Big Tens. Wright capped off a stunning Big Ten tourney title performance by being named the 2011 Big Ten Wrestling Championship's Outstanding Wrestler.
Long became Penn State's first Big Ten Champion of the day, using a four-point flurry in sudden victory to down 2nd-seed Tyler Graff of Wisconsin 7-3. Long went 4-0 during the tournament to claim the Big Ten 133-pound crown. Long entered the tournament as the top seed and won four straight to win the title. He heads to NCAAs with a 15-1 mark. Two-time All-American Molinaro followed that win up with a 3-0 win over Michigan's Eric Grajales in the finals at 149 to earn his first Big Ten crown. Molinaro went 3-0 during the tournament and heads to nationals with a 28-2 record. Red-shirt freshman Taylor put on another show in the finals at 157. Taylor took 2nd-seed Derek St. John of Iowa down once in each period and tacked on two escapes to roll to an 8-3 win and become the 2011 Big Ten Champion. Taylor went 3-0 at the tournament and remains undefeated with decision, only the second decision of his campaign. No wrestler has come any closer than five points of Taylor all season long and his 32 bonus point wins on the year are tied for first all-time on PSU's single season list.
Red-shirt freshman Ruth used a second period flurry to break a scoreless tie and roll to victory at 174. Ruth chose down to start the second stanza, quickly reversed 2nd seed Nick Heflin of Ohio State and then turned him to his back for three near fall points. Ruth then added another takedown and the riding time point to post the 8-5 win and become the 2011 Big Ten Champion. Ruth went 3-0 over the tournament and carries a stellar 32-1 record into the NCAA Championships. Sophomore All-American Wright completed a stunning Big Ten tourney run, downing Steinhaus 4-3 in the finals. Wright used a second period reversal and two escapes to hold on for the hard-fought win. Wright went 4-0 during the tournament and heads to the NCAA Championships at the 2011 Big Ten Champion. Wright's win gave Penn State a slim three-point lead heading into the last two weight classes.
In consolation action, senior Brad Pataky (Clearfield, Pa.) notched an important 16-1 technical fall over Michigan State's Eric Olanowski to take seventh place at 125. Red-shirt freshman James Vollrath (Richboro, Pa.) picked up huge bonus points for Penn State, pinning 8th seed Kevin Bialko of Northwestern in just 0:59 to finish in seventh place at 165. Pataky and Vollrath will now await word from the NCAA selection committee to see if they will receive at-large bids to the 2011 NCAA Wrestling Championships.
True freshman Andrew Alton (Mill Hall, Pa.) placed fifth at 141. Alton, the 5th-seed, gave up a third period takedown to 2nd seed Montell Marion of Iowa in the consolation semifinals. He then downed Northwestern's Kaleb Friedley 6-4 to take the five-spot. Junior Cameron Wade (Twinsburg, Ohio) was upset 4-3 by 6th-seed Eric Bugenhagen in the consolation semifinals but rebounded in a huge way in the fifth place bout. Wade dominated 5th-seed Ben Apland of Michigan, posting a 9-0 major and picking up what would end up being the deciding point in the team race with the major's bonus point. Wade placed fifth with the win and clinched the team title.
Penn State becomes the first team in the Eastern Time Zone since Michigan in 1973 to win the Big Ten Wrestling Championship. Penn State went 28-10 during in the tournament, including a 9-2 Sunday. The Nittany Lions had 15.5 bonus points thanks to five tech falls, four majors and two pins. Penn State's five Big Ten Champions is the most in school history. It tops the old record of three set in 1993 and 1994. The Nittany Lions' 139.0 points also sets a school record for team points.
Penn State now heads to the 2011 NCAA Championships on March 17-19 in Philadelphia, Pa. The seeds, wild cards and brackets for the tournament will be announced on Wednesday, March 9, at 6 p.m. live at www.NCAA.com. The three-day event will crown the nation's top wrestling team and is already sold out, setting an all-time attendance record before it begins. All Penn State events will once again air live on Forever Broadcasting's WRSC (1390 AM) and WSQV (92.1 FM). All radio broadcasts are streamed live at GoPSUsports.com as part of the All-Access package. The 2010-11 Penn State Wrestling season is presented by The Family Clothesline.
Pataky met Ohio State's Bo Touris in the second round of consolations and picked up more bonus points, posting a 17-2 technical fall over the Buckeye at the 4:57 mark. Pataky then met Wisconsin's Tom Kelliher in the third round of consolations. Kelliher was the 8th-seed. Pataky led 2-1 with just seconds left but Kelliher worked his way out of a scramble for a last second takedown and a 3-2 win. The loss sent Pataky into the seventh place bout.
In the seventh place bout, Pataky picked up huge bonus points for Penn State, tech falling MSU's Olanowski again, this time by a 16-1 (4:59) score. Pataky went 3-2 during the tourney and will now await an at-large bid during Wednesday night's selection show.
Long met 4th-seed B.J. Futrell of Illinois in the semifinals and came back from an early 2-0 deficit to roll to a roll to a convincing 7-2 win and move into the championships finals.
Long met 2nd-seed Tyler Graff of Wisconsin in the finals. Graff took control early with a first period takedown to lead 2-1 after one period. Long chose down to start the second and escaped but the duo could not tack on any more points, sending action into the third period tied 2-2. Graff chose down and escaped to a 3-2 lead, but Long's offensive pressure forced Graff into a stall warning and then Graff fled the mat with just :02 left, giving Long a point and the 3-3 tie. Long then dominated the sudden victory period, taking Graff down at the :18 mark and turning him for two back points for the 7-3 win and the 2011 Big Ten 133-pound title.
Alton took on 7th-seed Jake Fleckenstein of Purdue in the third round of consolations after getting a second round bye. The Nittany Lion made short work of the Boilermaker, knocking off a 17-2 tech fall at the 4:32 mark.
Alton met 2nd-seed Montell Marion of Iowa in the consolation semifinals and gave up a third period takedown on the edge of the mat to fall 3-2. The loss moved Alton into the fifth place match where he posted a 6-4 dec. over Northwestern's Kaleb Friedley, the 6th seed, to take fifth.
Molinaro took on 4th-seed Eric Terrazas of Illinois in the semifinals and downed the Illini grappler in a 4-0 decision. Molinaro moved into the championship finals
Molinaro met 6th-seed Eric Grajales of Michigan. The Lion junior took Grajales down midway through the first period and then rode the Wolverine out to take the early lead. Molinaro then notched his escape in the second period and then controlled the tempo for the third period to post the 3-0 win and win his first Big Ten title. Molinaro went 3-0 during the tournament to become the 2011 Big Ten 144-pound champion.
Taylor then met 5th-seed Paul Young of Indiana in the semifinals and hammered the Hoosier grappler for the third time this year. Taylor finished just one point shy of a tech fall, posting an 18-4 major and moving into the championship finals.
Taylor took on 2nd-seed Derek St. John of Iowa in the finals. Taylor dominated St. John, notching a takedown in each period to post the convincing 8-3 win. Taylor remains undefeated with the regular decision, only the second decision of his superb freshman campaign. No wrestler has come any closer than five points of Taylor all season long. His 32 bonus point wins on the year are tied for first all-time on PSU's single season list.
The Penn State freshman then met 7th-seed Ryan LeBlanc of Indiana in the consolation second round and worked his way to a thrilling 3-3 (TB3, RT crit) win, using :15 of tie-breaker riding time to move into the third round of consolations. Vollrath took 6th-seed Dan Yates of Michigan to extra time as well but gave up a last second takedown in a 3-1 (SV) loss. Vollrath, unseeded, then shifted to the seventh place bout.
Looking to keep Penn State in the team title race, Vollrath pinned 8th-seed Kevin Bialka of Northwestern in just 0:59 to place seventh. Vollrath went 2-2 during the tournament and will await an at-large selection during Wednesday night's selection show.
The top-seed Ruth then took on 5th-seed Ethan Lofthouse of Iowa in the semifinals and used riding time to squeak out a 3-2 win at 174 and move into the finals.
Ruth met 2nd-seed Nick Heflin of Ohio State in the finals. The Lion freshman broke open a scoreless tie in the second period with an early flurry. Ruth chose down to start the middle stanza, quickly reversed the Buckeye grappler and then took him to his back for three near fall points. Ruth added another takedown and the riding time point to roll to an 8-5 win and become the 2011 Big Ten Champion at 174.
Wright ten battled 5th-seed Tony Dallago of Illinois in the semifinals. Wright got taken down seconds into the bout but quickly reversed Dallago and then rolled to a convincing 8-5 win. The 2009 All-American at 174 moved into the championship finals with the win.
Wright met 2nd-seed Kevin Steinhaus of Minnesota in the championship finals. The 2009 All-American (at 174) proceeded to complete a stunning Big Ten tourney run, downing Steinhaus 4-3 in the finals. Wright used a second period reversal and two escapes to hold on for the hard-fought win. Wright went 4-0 during the tournament and heads to the NCAA Championships at the 2011 Big Ten Champion.
Ruggear moved into the consolations where he dropped a tough 4-0 decision to Michigan State's Tyler Dickenson, ending his tourney run at 0-2. Ruggear ends the Big Ten tournament with a 15-14 overall record.
The top-seeded Nittany Lion was Penn State's lone loss in the semis, however, as 4th-seed Tony Nelson of Minnesota handed the big man a 3-0 defeat. Wade then dropped a 4-3 decision to 6th-seed Eric Bugenhagen in the consolation semifinals. Wade rebounded in a huge way in the fifth place bout. Wade dominated 5th-seed Ben Apland of Michigan, posting a 9-0 major and picking up what would end up being the deciding point in the team race with the major's bonus point. Wade placed fifth with the win and clinched the team title.