ST. LOUIS, Mo. - The Penn State Nittany Lion wrestling team will have five wrestlers in the national semifinals after a superb quarterfinal showing at the 2012 NCAA Wrestling Championships. The Nittany Lions went 5-2, including two pins and a major, to race out to a large lead in the team race.
Entering today's action with a slim 5.5 point lead over Minnesota, the Nittany Lions' barrage of wins and bonus points has the team with a 17.0 point lead over second-place Cornell entering tonight's session. Penn State is in first place with 78.5 while Cornell is in second with 61.5. Iowa is in third with 58.5 while Minnesota is in fourth with 56.0 and Oklahoma State fifth with 50.0.
True freshman Nico Megaludis (Murrysville, Pa.) was first up for Penn State in the quarters, taking on No. 2 Zach Sanders of Minnesota. Megaludis, the No. 10 seed, sent the Scottrade Center into an early frenzy by rolling to a 7-4 win over the three-time Gopher All-American. Megaludis used three takedowns, two in the third period, to become a true freshman All-American. He is Penn State's first true freshman All-American since Quentin Wright turned the trick in 2009.
Senior Frank Molinaro (Barnegat, N.J.), the top seed at 149, became Penn State's fifth four-time All-American. Molinaro broke open a close bout against No. 8 Eric Grajales with a takedown and two near fall points in the second period. He added two more takedowns, an escape and the riding time point to roll to a 10-2 major decision, picking up key bonus points in the process. Molinaro joins Nittany Lion greats Greg Elinsky, Jim Martin, Sanshiro Abe and Phil Davis as four-time All-Americans.
Red-shirt freshman Dylan Alton (Mill Hall, Pa.) took on No. 2 Derek St. John of Iowa at 157 in the quarters. Alton, the No. 7 seed, nearly pulled off Penn State's second upset in the quarters, taking St. John to sudden victory. But St. John countered a solid Alton high single and rolled through for his own takedown and a 3-1 (sv) win. The loss drops Alton into the consolation fourth round tonight, still one win from All-America status.
All-American David Taylor (St. Paris, Ohio), the top seed at 165, ripped off his third straight pin of the tournament, this time decking No. 8 Robert Kokesh of Nebraska in only :29. Taylor used a low single leg to put Kokesh to the mat then finished off a cradle for the fall in just :29. Taylor, now a two-time All-American, rolls into the semifinals this evening.
All-American Ed Ruth (Harrisburg, Pa.), the top seed at 174, rolled through No. 9 Nick Heflin of Ohio State in his quarterfinal match-up. The Lion sophomore became a two-time All-American with an 11-4 decision over Heflin, including 2:45 in riding time. Ruth's win moves him into the national semifinals tonight.
Two-time All-American Quentin Wright (Wingate, Pa.), the No. 6 seed at 184, battled No. 3 Ben Bennett of Central Michigan in the quarterfinals. Wright, the defending national champion, sent the Nittany Lion faithful to their feet once again by stunning No. 3 Ben Bennett of Central Michigan with a standing cradle. Wright caught the third seed with the move early and then used nearly 1:30 to finish it off and get the pin at the 2:35 mark. The Nittany Lion junior becomes Penn State's 20th three-time All-American with the win. He sets up a rematch of last year's national title bout (won by Wright) against No. 2 Robert Hamlin of Lehigh in the semifinals tonight.
Senior Cameron Wade (Twinsburg, Ohio), the No. 6 seed at 285, met No. 3 Clayton Jack of Oregon State in Penn State's final quarterfinal match-up. Wade suffered a 7-0 setback to Jack and fell into the consolation fourth round tonight, just one win shy of All-America status.
In consolation action, sophomore Frank Martellotti (Pittsburgh, Pa.) dropped a tough 19-9 major decision to No. 6 Devin Carter of Virginia Tech. Martellotti went 1-2 in his first trip to NCAAs. True freshman Morgan McIntosh (Santa Ana, Calif.) met Ohio State's Andrew Campolattano once again and, after beating the Buckeye twice during the regular season, dropped a tough 8-3 decision. The loss ends the true freshman's season with a 1-2 showing in his first NCAA tournament.
The Nittany Lions' 5-2 quarterfinal mark with five bonus points was tempered by two losses in consolation action. Still, Penn State heads into session three with a superb 21-6 overall record. In addition to the stellar won/loss mark, Penn State has collected 19.5 bonus points off six pins, six majors and a tech fall.
The national semifinals take place, along with more consolation action, tonight at 6 p.m. CENTRAL/7 p.m. EASTERN, and will be broadcast live on ESPNU. The three day then continues all day Saturday, culminating with the national finals on Saturday evening at 6:30 p.m. CENTRAL/7:30 p.m. EASTERN.
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.
2012 NCAA WRESTLING CHAMPIONSHIPS - Top 10 Team Standings Session 3
Friday, March 16, 2012 - Scottrade Center - St. Louis, Mo.
1: PENN STATE - 78.5
2: Cornell - 61.5
3: Iowa - 58.5
4: Minnesota - 56.0
5: Oklahoma State - 50.0