BLOG: Megaludis Takes Down Delgado as Nittany Lions Topple Illini
Jan. 26, 2014
By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Nico Megaludis had worked toward this moment since last March, and on Friday night at Rec Hall, it had finally arrived. There was no way he was going to let it slip away.
Deadlocked at 4-4 with just under a minute remaining in the third period against Illinois's Jesse Delgado, the wrestler that had defeated him in last year's NCAA Championship, Megaludis was determined not to finish with the same result as the last time the two had met.
"He took what I wanted (last year) and there's not a day that passes that I don't think about that," Megaludis said. "I've been waiting 10 months for this."
With Delgado doing everything in his power to keep the two-time All-American in his grasp, Megaludis managed to shake free for an escape that proved to be the difference in a dramatic 5-4 win that highlighted the Nittany Lions' 31-3 victory.
Easily the most anticipated match of the night, the 6,480 fans that packed Rec Hall were already buzzing the moment the two 125-pounders stepped on the mat to kick the meet off.
With both wrestlers spending the majority of the first period grappling from their feet, neither competitor was able to finish off a shot in the first three minutes, as the second period started with the score at 0-0.
"He was backing up and trying to get me to reach," Megaludis said. "I just had to stay low and be smart and even though I wanted to get my hands on him I needed to be smart about it."
It was then that things began to get exciting. Starting the period in the bottom position, Megaludis quickly slipped out of Delgado's hold before completing the reversal to give him a 2-0 lead.
Delgado battled back with an escape, before attempting to put Megaludis into a cradle, the very same move that the Illinois junior used in the third period of last year's NCAA final to defeat the Murrysville, Pa. native.
Afterward, Megaludis admitted that Delgado's cradle attempt brought back feelings of déjà vu as it was happening.
"When I felt it, I'm not going to lie, I almost had a flashback," Megaludis said. "I remembered what he did (the first time) and I was aware of it."
Not wanting to fall for the same move twice, Megaludis not only spun free of Delgado, he completed a shot of his own, scoring a takedown and expanding his lead to 4-1, before an official review awarded Delgado an escape to make the score 4-2.
Although Delgado managed to pull off a reversal of his own at the start of the third period to tie the score, Megaludis refused to relent, eventually scoring the escape with 55 seconds remaining and keeping his opponent at bay the rest of the way to secure the win.
Not only did the exhilarating win send the Rec Hall faithful into an uproar, it set the tone for the rest of the dual, as the Nittany Lions claimed 9-of-10 bouts in their only Friday night contest of the season.
"This was our first Friday night (at home) and there was a different energy which was fun," head coach Cael Sanderson said. "Nico got things rolling there."
For Megaludis, the key to winning was making sure to continue to wrestle his style at all times, and not to let Delgado dictate the match.
Although the reigning NCAA Champ wrestles with a more frenetic and tricky style than most, Megaludis knew that he couldn't afford to be passive and avoid taking chances if he wanted to win.
"Most guys aren't going to attack him but I am," Megaludis said. "I'm not going to take away my offense just because he's dangerous and also has a good offense but he's pretty funky."
Even though he had waited so long for a rematch against Delgado, Megaludis wasted little time celebrating in the aftermath of his victory.
As far as Megaludis is concerned, Delgado still has the one accomplishment that he desires, and that is an NCAA Championship.
Though he'll have to settle with his impressive dual meet victory for now, Megaludis already has his sights set on March, and if the second ranked 125-pounder in the country continues to wrestle at his current pace, there isn't anyone that he believes can stop him from achieving his goal.
"(Delgado) has what I want and I want to take it," Megaludis said. "It's going to be more satisfying when I do it. Bigger things are yet to come."