Quarterfinals help Penn State's case
Nittany Lions get surprise semifinalist in Megaludis at 125
ST. LOUIS – Plenty of NCAA Championships have been determined on March Friday mornings. That may be the case in 2012.
Penn State pushed five into Friday night's semifinals and led by 18.5 points after the quarterfinal round. Iowa, Minnesota and Oklahoma State were all within 10 points of second-place Cornell after a wild first session on Thursday. Wrestling in the wrestlebacks continue, but Penn State will lead going into the fourth session. By how much remains to be seen.
A look at the quarterfinal round:
As if Penn State needed a boost, rookie 125-pounder Nico Megaludis (29-7) upset three-time All-American Zach Sanders of Minnesota 5-4 to start the round. Dramatics came in the Jesse Delgado-Nic Bedelyon bout where Bedelyon, a senior for Kent State, appeared to win the match in the first overtime when the official signaled “2.” But the side official overruled the call and the two continued to wrestle. Another wild scramble in the second overtime saw Bedelyon (34-4), a former All-American, receive a takedown and back points, again after the two officials had a short caucus.
“That’s two guys who can really scramble,” Kent State assistant coach Josh Moore said. “You don’t see that second official overrule like that very often and [Nic], being a fifth-year senior, came back and found a way to win that match. [Delgado] is the only guy to beat [Iowa's McDonough] McDonough this year so people are probably going to call it an upset.”
McDonough (36-1) rolled, as did Cornell’s Frank Perelli (35-5). McDonough and Bedelyon meet in one semi with Megaludis and Perelli in the other.
It was a case of 'whatever you can do, I can do better.' Illinois’ Bernard Futrell had a quick pin, followed by Iowa’s Tony Ramos. Defending champion Jordan Oliver of Oklahoma State went a little further, needing 2:34. The only match that didn’t end by fall was freshman Logan Stieber’s 7-4 win against Minnesota freshman Chris Dardanes.
Oliver (29-1) gets Futrell (32-6) Friday night. Both have three pins in the tournament. Stieber (33-2) gets Ramos (33-3), the only wrestler to beat Oliver this year. Stieber has two wins against Ramos.
Plenty of star power at 133 pounds.
The defending champion, Kellen Russell of Michigan moved to 33-1 with a solid win against Minnesota’s Nick Dardanes. The best match came between Iowa’s Montell Marion and Cal Poly’s Boris Novachkov, finalists from the last two seasons. Marion (32-3) scored a third period takedown and edged into the semifinals on a riding time point 7-6. Oklahoma’s Kendric Maple (33-1) continued to impress, hammering Virginia Tech’s Zach Neibert.
“Everybody is nervous coming into this thing,” admitted Maple, a redshirt last year. “But the coaches have done such a great job of preparing me. I expected to be [in the semifinals]. It’s really going to be fun.”
Ohio State’s Hunter Stieber (30-4) joined his brother in the final, beating Oregon State’s Michael Mangrum 6-5. Stieber faces Russell and Marion goes against Maple.
Minnesota freshman Dylan Ness watched his brother win a national title two seasons ago. He took a step toward joining him Friday morning with a third-period ride-out to beat second-seeded Jamal Parks 3-2. During the regular season, Ness (25-8) tossed Park to his back for a 5-0 lead only to see the Cowboy senior storm back to win 11-8. It was Parks’ first loss in 33 matches this year.
“I wrestled really well this time,” Ness said. “Parks is really quick, a good technical wrestler. The last couple of times he’s been able to get to my legs. I knew I could ride him, but I’m not surprised he chose down because he’s gotten away the last couple of times really quick. I had to stop his first motion and was able to do that. The score was tied [to start the third period] and that was the plan.”
Ness has a 4-2 win, an 11-7 victory and now a 3-2 decision heading into the semifinals.
Top-seeded Frank Molinaro (33-0) moved on with an easy win, as did Pittsburgh’s Tyler Nauman (32-5). Unseeded Justin Accordino (28-11) kept his tournament going with a win against Oklahoma’s Nick Lester, another unseeded wrestler. Molinaro meets Accordino in the semifinals with Nauman and Ness in the other half.
Cornell’s Kyle Dake (35-0) had his third consecutive fall. Iowa’s Derek St. John (22-2) beat Penn State’s Dylan Alton in overtime with Northwestern’s Jason Welch (28-1) and American’s Ganbayar Sanjaa (27-3) also winning quarterfinal matches. Dake gets Sanjaa and Welch meets St. John.
“The last two years I’ve kind of been the young gun,” said Dake, a champion at 141 and 149 puonds the last two years, respecitvely. “Nobody expects me to go out and score a bunch of bonus points, but I’ve gone out early and looked for it this week. It’s about winning at this point, getting to the top of the podium.”
|DIVISION I CHAMPIONSHIP|
Brackets | Scores | Round-by-Round | Recap
Brackets | Scores | Round-by-Round | Recap
Brackets | Scores | Round-by-Round | Recap
|Feature: In a word -- outstanding|
|Preview: Breaking down the race|
Penn State’s David Taylor (32-0) had a third consecutive first-period pin, locking up a cradle and finishing Nebraska’s Robert Kokesh in less than a minute. Of Taylor’s 68 career wins, 62 include bonus points. Clarion’s Bekzod Abdurakhmonov (36-4) beat Hofstra’s Paul Gillespie in the other quarter in Taylor’s half.
The bottom half saw a pair of lower-seeded wrestlers advance. Lehigh’s Brandon Hatchett (23-3), a No. 11 seed, beat third-seeded Andrew Sorenson of Iowa State, with seventh-seeded Josh Asper of Maryland moving to 31-1 with a victory against second-seeded Shane Onufer of Wyoming. The loss was Onufer’s second in 36 matches this season.
Asper and Hatchett meet in the semis with Abdurakmonov, whose older brother lost in the NCAA semifinals back in 2006, getting a shot at Taylor.
Second-seeded Chris Perry of Oklahoma State won a nail-biter in overtime. The Oklahoma State sophomore trailed in the third after a Jordan Blanton reversal but found a way to get into overtime where Blanton was hit for stalling twice in the 30-second tiebreaker. Perry (31-0) then rode out the next 30-second session for the victory. Chris’s older brother, Mark, a two-time NCAA champion for Iowa, is an assistant coach for the Illini and worked the corner against his younger brothere.
Minnesota freshman Logan Storley (28-6) scored a late takedown to beat Iowa’s Luke Lofthouse with Penn State’s top-seeded Ed Ruth (31-0) rolling by Ohio State’s Nick Heflin. Last season’s runner-up, Stanford’s Nick Amuchastegui (25-0) had little trouble. The two-time All-American meets Perry with Ruth and Storley in the other half.
The first No. 1 seed to lose this week is Wyoming’s Joe LeBlanc (34-2), who fell to Appalachian State’s Austin Trotman (38-4) 12-9. He will meet Cornell’s Steve Bosak (33-4) in the semifinals after Bosak edged Minnesota’s Kevin Steinhaus in the quarters. Steinhaus nearly scored a late reversal but the Cornell All-American held on to win 2-1. Penn State’s pin parade continued with Quentin Wright (31-3) flattening Central Michigan’s Ben Bennett. Lehigh’s Robert Hamlin (34-1), who lost to Wright in last year’s final, beat Nebraska’s Josh Ihnen in the other quarterfinal. Hamlin and Wright meet in the semifinals with Trotman in Bosak in the other half.
Edinboro’s Chris Honeycutt (41-1) broke open a tight match with a pair of third period takedowns to beat Minnesota’s Sonny Yohn. Honeycutt faces Pittsburgh’s Matthew Wilps (35-3) in the semifinals. Wilps gave Honeycutt his only loss this season in the EWL final. Wilps pinned Missouri’s Brent Haynes in his quarterfinal bout. Cornell’s Cam Simaz (31-1) easily advanced while Oklahoma State’s Cayle Byers (28-3) beat Nebraska’s James Nakashima with a riding time point. Byers, a senior transfer from George Mason, faces Simaz.
Lehigh’s Zach Rey (27-2) won another close match, getting by Iowa’s Bobby Telford 2-0. American’s Ryan Flores (24-0) had his fourth consecutive fall, pinning The Citadel’s Andrew Delaney. Rey beat Flores in the 2011 NCAA final. Flores beat Rey in the EIWA final for the second consecutive year and is the top seed. The two face off in the semifinals.
The other half saw Minnesota’s Tony Nelson (32-2) pin Northwestern’s Michael McMullen and Oregon State’s Clayton Jack (40-1) advance. The top four seeds will wrestle for a spot in the final.