Penn State relies on power of the pin
Notes: Iowa State bounces back from Thursday disappointment
DES MOINES, Iowa –- There might be a name change in order for Penn State -– at least as far as wrestling goes.
P-I-N State, rather than P-E-N-N State?
The Nittany Lions, the champions for the past two years, thanks in part to a propensity for the pin, bolted into the lead after the quarterfinal round. Junior David Taylor needed all of 24 seconds in his quarterfinal bout. Senior Quentin Wright, after two tough wins on Thursday, pinned Minnesota’s Scott Schiller with a headlock at the 2:48 mark to give PSU 75 points and a 9 ½ point lead on Oklahoma State entering the wonderful world of wrestlebacks Friday evening.
PSU does not just pin in the championship bracket; Jordan Conaway, a 133-pounder, flattened Michigan’s Rossi Bruno not long after Wright’s show. It pushed the advantage to 77 ½ to 65 ½ entering tonight’s wrestling where Oklahoma State and Penn State each have five competing in the semifinals.
“I don’t look at scores, but I know every team point counts,” said Taylor, who has not wrestled past the first period in three matches.
And when they are not scoring pins, the Nittany Lions are adding major decisions and technical falls.
Matt Brown, in his first year as a starter, has fit right in. Brown, a sophomore 174-pounder, picked up his second major decision of the week, beating Iowa State’s Tanner Weatherman on Friday afternoon.
“I got a major for the team so that is good,” said Brown (28-4). “I just wanted to get bonus points for the team; they’re important.”
Ed Ruth had pins in both matches on Thursday; the 2012 NCAA champion, now a winner of 66 consecutive matches, had an 11-1 major decision in the quarterfinals.
Oklahoma State decided, however, that the Nittany Lions needed some company. The lead changed hands between OSU and PSU nine times over the course of Friday’s first session.
Jordan Oliver (36-0) picked up his third consecutive major decision at 149 pounds. Oliver, a four-time All-American, faces fifth-seeded Steve Santos of Columbia, who has quietly put together a 29-1 campaign. OSU freshman Alex Dieringer (33-2) got by Boise State’s Georgi Ivanov in the 157-pound quarters. Tyler Caldwell, a two-time All-American, grinded by Michigan rookie Taylor Massa to move into the 165-pound semifinals. Chris Perry (33-2), third a year ago, beat Ohio State’s Nick Heflin in overtime at 174 pounds, and Alan Gelogaev (27-3) beat Boise State’s J.T. Felix to move into the final four at 285 pounds.
The Cowboys could have really made things interesting had 197-pounder Blake Rosholt found a way to beat Pittsburgh’s Matt Wilps. But the Panther hurt Cowboy hopes and helped his fellow Pennsylvanians with a 7-1 decision.
In the rear-view mirror is Minnesota and the rest of the pack. The Gophers pushed just two to the semifinals -– Logan Storley at 174 and Tony Nelson at 285. But J Robinson’s group did not quit, winning nine wrestleback matches. Entering tonight’s action, UM has more wrestlers alive than anybody – nine. Yet, the Gophers have miles to go, and needs a lot of help, to get back in the race.
Iowa, in fourth, 10 ½ points behind the Gophers, pushed just two to the semifinals -– Tony Ramos and Derek St. John. Two-time NCAA champion Matt McDonough suffered his second loss in NCAA tournament competition, losing to Cornell freshman Nahshon Garrett (41-4). McDonough beat Garrett at the National Duals last month.
Garrett joins a pair of Cornell veterans in the semifinals. Dake moved his win streak to 75 with a dominating 13-0 win over Virginia’s Nick Sulzer in the quarterfinals. Dake will face off with Caldwell tonight, a two-time All-American who lost in the NCAA finals in 2011.
Steve Bozak, the champion at 184 in 2012, gets another shot at Ruth, who beat the State College product in the Southern Scuffle finals in January.
Missouri continued its strong week, advancing two to the semifinals –- Alan Waters at 125 and Dom Bradley at 285.
Those still slugging it out in the wrestlebacks must win one match Friday night to finish in the top eight and earn All-America status. A win in the semifinals means a chance to compete on the big stage Saturday night. Fourteen of the 40 semifinalists have already wrestled in the finals.
At 165 and 184 pounds, three have seen the big lights.
Can’t blame him
Penn State’s David Taylor has 98 career victories and two losses, one of them coming to Cornell’s Kyle Dake earlier this season. The two are on a collision course for Saturday night’s finals.
“There’s not a single part of me that’s not thinking about the big one,” admitted Taylor after the quarterfinals. “But every part of me has to fight it and make sure I’m focused for these matches because in this tournament anything can happen at any time.”
Break up those Cyclones
Iowa State fans got a lift on Friday from Matt Moreno, Kyven Gadson, and Matt Gibson. All three lost in Thursday night’s second round, but bounced back with two wins on Friday. Gadson (26-3) beat Bloomsburg’s Richard Perry on a riding-time point to stay in the tournament, while Moreno (29-8) picked up two pins and Gibson (21-10) won his fourth match in five bouts.
Unseeded and unknown … no more
Missouri’s Drake Houdeshelt and Northern Iowa’s David Bonin are the only remaining unseeded wrestlers in the championship bracket. Houdeshelt, a sophomore 149-pounder, beat unseeded David Tao of American in the quarterfinals and meets Boise State’s Jason Chamberlain tonight. Bonin, a Louisiana native, advanced to the 157-pound semifinals with a 3-0 win.
The last unseeded champion? Wyoming head coach Mark Branch was champion in 1994.
Still in line
No brothers have won titles in the same year since 1992 –- Tom and Terry Brands for Iowa. Ohio State’s Logan and Hunter Stieber kept their hopes alive on Friday, Logan continuing to roll at 133 pounds, and Hunter dodging a major bullet at 141 pounds against Franklin & Marshall’s Richard Durso.
The duo will have to beat a pair of Fighting Scots -– A.J.Schopp and Mitchell Port, 133 and 141 pounds, respectively, take a combined 65-6 record into the semifinals. Schopp gets Logan Stieber; Port faces Hunter Stieber.