Finals matchups set
Penn St. pads team lead, but individual storylines abound
DES MOINES, Iowa -– Penn State and Oklahoma State continued to go toe-to-toe on Friday night. The Nittany Lions pushed five to the finals -– Nico Megaludis, David Taylor, Matt Brown, Ed Ruth, and Quentin Wright –- and hold a 20 ½ point lead entering Saturday.
Oklahoma State is in second with 94 points with two in the finals. Minnesota, trying to work all the way back from a tough Friday morning, are third with 86 points.
Illinois’ Jesse Delgado (25-3) had little trouble with Cornell’s Nahshon Garrett, who beat defending champion Matt McDonough in the quarterfinals. Delgado, seventh as a freshman, won 10-5. The other semifinal needed extra time with top-seeded Alan Waters of Missouri and Penn State’s Nico Megaludis, the runner-up as a freshman last March. The two wrestled 11 minutes with the Megaludis (28-3) winning on riding time in the second tiebreaker. It was Waters’ first loss in 33 matches.
Logan Stieber, the defending champion, wasted no time, taking down Edinboro’s A.J.Schopp in the opening 20 seconds. With a takedown at the final buzzer it was 18-2 with 4:02 of riding time for Stieber (25-0).
Iowa’s Tony Ramos (31-1) will get his wish, another shot at Stieber, who beat the Hawkeye in overtime at the Big Ten Championships. Ramos trailed Wisconsin’s Tyler Graff until a late stalling point tied the bout. After an overtime and one set of tiebreakers, Ramos exploded for a takedown much to the delight of the pro-Iowa crowd.
Edinboro’s Mitchell Port (34-3) made sure Tom and Terry Brands were safe for another by beating Ohio State’s Hunter Stieber, 7-6, on a riding time point. It was Stieber’s first loss of the season in 35 matches.
Oklahoma’s Kendric Maple (29-0) was not challenged, beating The Citadel’s Ugi Khishignyam.
Oklahoma State senior Jordan Oliver (37-0) built a 10-3 lead after three minutes and went on to a 14-3 major decision. Oliver, an Easton, Pa., native, had physical issues late in the match, taking an extended injury timeout.
Boise State’s Jason Chamberlain moved to 30-1 with a win against Missouri’s unseeded Drake Houdeshelt. The Nos. 1 and 2 seeds will meet Saturday night.
Old rivals Oklahoma State and Iowa faced off with Hawkeye junior Derek St. John and Cowboy redshirt-freshman Alex Dieringer. The two had a very tentative seven minutes and wrestled for another two, trading escapes. Another minute of overtime saw St. John (30-2) finally advance with a 3-2 victory.
Another unseeded wrestler, Northern Iowa’s David Bonin, met the top seed, Northwestern’s Jason Welch, in the other semifinal. Bonin’s run ended with a 7-1 loss to the Big Ten champion.
Three of the four semifinalists had already competed on the big stage. The fourth, Virginia Tech’s Peter Yates brought a 33-1 record.
The dilemma always with Cornell’s Kyle Dake is that choice of positions in the second or third periods. Trailing 1-0, Oklahoma State’s Tyler Caldwell, a 2011 finalist, chose down. Dake rode out the full two minutes and will take his 76-match winning streak into his fourth NCAA final.
Penn State’s David Taylor will roll into Saturday night’s finals with a 30-1 record. He recorded his fourth fall of the tournament, pinning Yates while leading 7-1.
One of the most anticipated matches in NCAA history –- Dake and Taylor -– will take place at around 9 p.m. (CST).
Oklahoma State’s Chris Perry continued to live dangerously. After beating Ohio State’s Nick Heflin in overtime in the quarterfinals, Perry junior went to another extra session with Nebraska’s Robert Kokesh. Early in the first overtime, Perry (34-2), third a year ago, countered a bad Kokesh shot for a takedown to win 4-2.
Penn State’s Matt Brown (29-4) scored in the opening seconds and held on to beat Minnesota’s Logan Storley 3-2. Perry will try and join older brother Mark in winning a title for the Perry clan.
Penn State’s Ed Ruth showed he was human, getting a challenge from 2012 NCAA champion Steve Bozak of Cornell. In the end, however, it was still Ruth (32-0) with a 4-1 decision.
The bottom half of the bracket saw Lehigh’s Robert Hamlin (26-3) get by Central Michigan’s Ben Bennett, 3-2.
Kent State’s unbeaten Dustin Kilgore was tied with Oregon State’s Taylor Meeks midway through the third, but a reversal and riding time point gave the 2011 champion a 8-5 decision.
Penn State’s Quentin Wright, a champion two seasons ago, was hanging on for dear life in the closing seconds with Pittsburgh’s Matt Wilps trying to stack the Nittany Lion senior for a pin. But new life, and two tiebreakers later, Wright (31-0) won by the narrowest of margins – three seconds of riding time.
Oklahoma State senior Alan Gelogaev scored two first-period takedowns and looked to be in position to advance to the finals, but a late error, and a slip, gave Minnesota’s Tony Nelson a 5-4 decision and second consecutive trip to the big stage. Nelson improved to 32-1.
Northwestern’s Michael McMullan (22-3) scored an overtime takedown to beat top-seeded Dom Bradley of Missouri in the other half of the bracket. Nelson edged McMullan, a sophomore, in the Big Ten finals.