CHAMPAIGN, IL - The Penn State Nittany Lion wrestlers, ranked No. 1 throughout the year on Intermat's national TPI ranking, lived up to that billing once again, winning their third straight Big Ten Championship. Head coach Cael Sanderson has now won three Big Ten crowns in his four years as mentor at Penn State. The Nittany Lions won with 151.0 points, Minnesota was second at 139.0 and Iowa third with 133.5.
Penn State went a perfect 4-0 in the finals and claimed half the post-season hardware as well. Junior Ed Ruth (Harrisburg, Pa.) was named 2013 Big Ten Wrestlers of the Year and Sanderson won his third straight Big Ten Coach of the Year (sharing this year's honor with Minnesota's J Robinson). In addition, to a third straight title and a bevy of conference laurels, all ten Nittany Lions will make their way to the NCAA Championships on March 21-23 in Des Moines, Iowa, as Penn State looks to win its third straight NCAA crown.
Junior David Taylor (St. Paris, Ohio) was Penn State's first finalist. Taylor, ranked No. 2 nationally at 165 and the top seed, took on second seed Conrad Polz of Indiana in the finals. As the Illini played defense, and was for three stall calls, Taylor notched two takedowns, a reversal and over 3:00 in riding time to roll to a 9-1 major, picking up key bonus points and becoming Penn State's third three-time Big Ten Champion. Taylor went 3-0 on the day and heads to Des Moines to defend his national title with a 26-1 overall record.
Sophomore Matt Brown (West Valley City, Utah), ranked No. 7 nationally at 174 and the fifth seed, battled No. 3 Mike Evans of Iowa in the finals. After Evans, the No. 2 seed was given an early lead on a penalty point due to a pulled sock, Brown went on a rampage. The Nittany Lion sophomore escaped to start the second period and then bulled through a high double, taking Evans to his back to take a commanding 6-1 lead off the five point move. He tallied 2:29 in riding time after riding Evans out for most of the third period and rolled to the 7-3 win, becoming a Big Ten Champion in his first trip to the conference tournament. Brown went 4-0 over the course of the weekend and heads to NCAAs with a 25-4 record.
Junior Ed Ruth (Harrisburg, Pa.), ranked No. 1 nationally at 184 and the top seed, looking for this third straight Big Ten championship, Ruth met Minnesota's Kevin Steinhaus, ranked No. 5 nationally and the No. 2 seed, in the finals. Ruth took care of the Gopher and nearly clinched the team title with a 5-3 win, using takedowns in the first and third periods to roll to victory. Ruth, like Taylor, becomes a three-time Big Ten Champion, Penn State's fourth. Ruth went 3-0 at the tourney and heads to the NCAA Champion looking for a second straight national title with a perfect 28-0 record.
Senior Quentin Wright (Wingate, Pa.), ranked No. 2 nationally at 197 and the top seed, k Wright took on second-seed Scott Schiller of Minnesota in the finals. Never threatened, Wright rolled his way to a 5-3 win over Schiller, using second and third period takedowns for the margin. Wright's win gives him his second Big Ten title and clinched the team title for Penn State. Wright went 3-0 for his second title, clinching the team title for Penn State in the process. Wright heads to Des Moines looking to become a four-time All-American and two-time NCAA Champion with a perfect 27-0 record.
All-American Nico Megaludis (Murrysville, Pa.), ranked No. 3 at 125, was outstanding today, rebounding from a loss in the semifinals last night. Megaludis downed No. 13 Nikko Triggas of Ohio State 4-1 in the conso semis and then rolled past No. 16 Sean Boyle of Michigan, 4-1, with over 3:00 in riding time. The burst gives Megaludis a third place finish after going 3-1. Sophomore Andrew Alton (Mill Hall, Pa.), ranked No. 13 at 149 and the sixth seed, went 1-1 in conso action. Alton picked up a 13-4 major over Michigan State's Dan Osterman in the conso semis. He then broke out to a 5-0 lead on No. 10 Ivan Loupochanski, the tournament's No. 2 seed. But in the second period, the Boilermaker grappler countered an Alton throw and pinned the Nittany Lion at the 4:06 mark. Alton's outstanding run to fourth place as the No. 6 seed came on a 4-2 mark and earned him a trip to NCAAs.
Red-shirt freshman Jordan Conaway (Abbottstown, Pa.), ranked No. 12 nationally at 133, dropped his consolation semifinal bout to sixth-ranked Chris Dardanes of Minnesota but rebounded for a resounding 4-1 win over 11th-ranked Daryl Thomas of Illinois. The win gave Conaway fifth place and a trip to NCAAs as a freshman. Conaway went 2-2 in his first Big Ten Championship. Senior Bryan Pearsall (Lititz, Pa.), having earned his first trip to the NCAA Championships, ended the Big Ten tournament with an outstanding win in the fifth place bout. After dropping his conso semifinal bout to No. 7 Nick Dardanes of Minnesota, Pearsall used a takedown in extra time to post the 4-2 (sv) win over Northwestern's Pat Greco. Pearsall went 4-2 to take fifth and earned his first trip to NCAAs.
All-American Dylan Alton (Mill Hall, Pa.), ranked No. 5 nationally at 157, went 0-2 in consolation action and took sixth with a 3-3 record. Alton was beaten by No. 2 Derek St. John of Iowa and Minnesota's Danny Zilverberg in the fifth place bout. Alton had already secured a trip to NCAAs. Sophomore Jimmy Lawson (Tom's River, N.J.) took fifth seed Mike McClure of Michigan State into sudden victory before giving up a takedown and fall at the 6:36 mark. Lawson's eighth place finish moves him on to nationals as one of Penn State's ten-man contingent having gone 2-3.
Penn State closed out the tournament with a 20-9 record with all ten wrestlers placing in the top eight. Penn State stacked up 20.5 bonus points off of five pins, three tech falls and six majors. Taylor and Ruth become Penn State's third and fourth three-time Big Ten Champions as well. Kerry McCoy won three titles from 1994-97 and Sanshiro Abe won three from 1993-96. In addition to Ruth's Wrestler of the Year and Sanderson's Coach of the Year awards, all four champions (Taylor, Brown, Ruth and Wright) were named First Team All-Big Ten honorees. Wisconsin heavyweight Connor Medberry was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year and Illinois' Jesse Delgado was the tournament's Outstanding Wrestler to round out post-season honors.
Nittany Lions will next head to Des
Moines, Iowa, for the
2013 NCAA Wrestling Championships on March 21-23 in the Wells Fargo Arena. Penn State
will be looking to win its third straight NCAA title.