2012 NCAA and Big Ten Champions Hand Out Post-Season Hardware at Season-Ending Banquet
April 15, 2012
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State Wrestling Club held its annual awards banquet on Sunday at the Penn Stater. Over 10 team and academic awards are presented each year at the event and this year's banquet featured a celebration of Penn State's back-to-back title runs as both Big Ten and NCAA National Champions.
Two-time All-American Ed Ruth (Harrisburg, Pa.) was honored as the William N. Neidig Outstanding Wrestler of the Year. Ruth, a sophomore, posted an undefeated 2011-12 season, going 32-0 with 10 pins, seven technical falls and nine majors. He won his second straight Big Ten title at Purdue in early March and then rolled to the NCAA crown with a dominating 13-2 major decision over Stanford's Nick Amuchastegui. He was recently honored by Intermat as the media outlet's National Wrestler of the Year.
Two-time All-American David Taylor (St. Paris, Ohio) took home four team awards. Taylor won the Charles M. Spiedel Award for the most takedowns over the course of the entire season (not just duals). He also claimed the Joe Scalzo Award for most team points (for the year) and the Bill Koll Award for most pins. Taylor was also honored with the Most Bonus Points Scored award. Taylor, a sophomore, was also undefeated on the year. He went 32-0 and rolled to his second straight Big Ten crown at Purdue as well as the NCAA Championship at 165. He ended the year with 15 pins, nine tech falls and six majors. Taylor set an NCAA record for points in the finals with a 22-7 technical fall over Lehigh's Brandon Hatchett. Taylor was named Big Ten Wrestler of the Year, NCAA Championship Outstanding Wrestler, won the NCAA's season-long Most Dominant Wrestler Award and claimed the Gorriaran Award at the NCAA Championships in St. Louis. He closed out his season by winning the Hodge Trophy, college wrestling's version of the Heisman Trophy.
Four-time All-American Frank Molinaro (Barnegat, N.J.) closed out a stellar Penn State career by earning the team's Total Commitment Award. Molinaro blazed his way through an undefeated senior campaign with a 33-0 record, including 11 majors, seven tech falls and four pins. He won his second straight Big Ten 149-pound title in Purdue and then followed that up by claiming the NCAA title in St. Louis with a decisive 4-1 win over Minnesota's Dylan Ness. Molinaro earned 2012 Big Ten Championship Most Outstanding Wrestler honors in Purdue. He leaves Penn State as the school's fifth four-time All-American with a 121-29 career record.
Junior 141-pounder Bryan Pearsall (Lititz, Pa.) was honored with the Kaye Vinson Most Improved Wrestler Award. Pearsall went 15-12 during the campaign, with six pins, a tech fall and three majors. He posted a 7-5 dual meet record and had 14 dual bonus points.
Senior Clay Steadman (McKean, Pa.) took home two honors as well. Steadman won the team's Community Service Award as well as the squad's Leadership Award. Steadman missed the final two years of his collegiate career as injuries kept him off the mat. He collected 13 wins, including seven dual meet victories, as a freshman and sophomore at 197.
In addition to the team's athletic performance awards, five Academic Excellence Awards were handed out, given to the top wrestler in terms of grade point average for first- through fifth-year wrestlers.
Freshman All-American Nico Megaludis (Murrysville, Pa.) won the First Year honor with a 3.78 GPA. Megaludis advanced to the national finals at 125 as a true freshman and ended his first year of collegiate action with a 28-8 overall record and as a freshman All-American. Red-shirt freshman Matt Brown (West Valley City, Utah) won the Second Year honor with a perfect 4.0 GPA. Brown, who wrestled behind national champion Ruth all year at 174, saw plenty of action for Penn State, going 27-2 overall, including a 5-0 mark in dual meets. Brown had multiple wins over ranked wrestlers, including up two weights at 197.
Taylor won the Third Year award with a 3.52 GPA while red-shirt junior James English (York, Pa.) won the Fourth Year honor. English, who missed the entire season with an injury, had a 3.51 GPA. Steadman capped off the awards with the Fifth Year award courtesy a 3.63 GPA.
Senior affiliate club members shared the Carl A. Winterburn Award given to the managers who exhibits enthusiasm, leadership and year-round support to the program. Sharing the honor this year were Samantha Gundaker (Wyndmoor, Pa.) and Kirsten Valania (Newark, Del.). Two other very important awards were given as well. Mr. Norm Palovcsik received the Outstanding Alumnus Award and Sam Condo received the Edward Sulkowski Award, given each year for dedication and hard work on behalf of the Penn State wrestling program.
The Nittany Lions ended the year as two-time reigning NCAA and Big Ten Champions. Penn State posted a 13-1 overall dual meet record and were the 2012 Big Ten Co-Regular Season Champions with a 7-1 conference mark. The full season slate of live dual meet and tournament action aired locally WRSC AM (1390 AM) with Friday evening duals simulcast on WRSC FM (103.1 FM). Lock Haven's WBPZ (1230 AM) also carried the entire season live, WIEZ (670 AM) in Huntingdon/Lewistown carried all Sunday events. The regular season schedule of radio broadcasts was 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 was presented by The Family Clothesline.