Strong session boosts Oklahoma State to within 3 of Penn State headed into finals
DES MOINES, Iowa - One of the biggest sports clichés out there is "expect the unexpected."
And it's quite often used in wrestling.
Penn State, winners of the last two NCAA team titles, looked like they were cruising to another after pushing five to tonight's finals. Oklahoma State apparently did not get the memo.
The Cowboys trailed by 20 ½ points when wrestling started on Saturday at the 83rd NCAA Wrestling Championships. When competition begins on the big stage tonight, PSU will hold a three-point lead.
The 34-time NCAA champion opened the day with three wins in four matches to draw within 9 ½ points.
"We looked at the score this morning and made them aware that there was an opportunity," said OSU head coach John Smith, whose squad won 7 of 9 matches in the session. "We had to win matches and beat people who might be seeded ahead of us. It was going to take the kind of effort we got.
"We knew coming in that it was going to take guys like Alex Dieringer and Jon Morrison having some success for us to compete."
Heavyweight Alan Gelogaev, coming off a gut-wrenching loss in Friday night's semifinals, scored a last-second takedown to beat Pittsburgh's Zac Thomuseitt, 4-3, in the wrestleback semifinals. Redshirt-freshman Alex Dieringer picked up a big major decision at 157, and Tyler Caldwell grinded out another win at 165 pounds.
In the medal matches, the orange and black continued its push.
Jon Morrison rallied to beat Minnesota's Chris Dardanes in the fifth-place match at 133 pounds. It drew the Cowboys to within eight points. Dieringer flattened Northern Iowa's David Bonin for third. And a weight later it was Caldwell winning his second straight match of the day to bring the team totals to 114 ½ to 100 ½.
"We can still win this thing," said Dieringer, who finishes 35-3. "We have a lot of guys who can score points on this team. We came here to win, not finish second."
Blake Rosholt took the mat for the seventh-place match at 197 pounds. His older brother Jake was part of a Cowboy championship team in 2003. But Wyoming's Alfonso Hernandez temporarily stopped the OSU train with a 7-4 victory.
Gelogaev had one last chance to deliver a body blow to the Nittany Lions. And the Russian delivered, scoring a late takedown to beat Missouri's Dom Bradley.
All Penn State could do was sit and watch. Friday night, PSU head coach Cael Sanderson knew a third straight title was not in the books.
The first finals bout tonight features Oklahoma State's Chris Perry and Penn State's Matt Brown. With a Cowboy victory, the lead at the national tournament will belong to someone besides the blue and white.
The scenario is as follows:
Penn State has five in the finals; Oklahoma State has two.
Nico Megaludis faces Illinois' Jesse Delgado in the 125-pound final. He is an underdog.
David Taylor meets Kyle Dake in case you had not heard.
Brown and Perry at 174.
Ed Ruth will be favored against Lehigh's Robert Hamlin at 184.
Quentin Wright, unbeaten, meets Kent State's unbeaten Dustin Kilgore of Kent State.
The Cowboys also have 149-pound senior Jordan Oliver going against Boise State's Jason Chamberlain.
Each victory tonight is worth four points, plus an bonus points for a major decision, technical fall, or pin.
In a matter of hours, Wells Fargo Arena went from the Penn State and Kyle Dake Show to what might just be a spectacular finish.
285-pound flying squirrel
United States Olympian Ellis Coleman received national attention for his unorthodox "Flying Squirrel." The athletic Coleman, a 132-pounder, looks the part. On Saturday morning, Central Michigan heavyweight Jarod Trice tried the same move late against Missouri's Dom Bradley. It did not work, but brought plenty of oohs and aahs from the Wells Fargo Arena crowd.
Cornell's Nahshon Garrett upset Iowa's Matt McDonough on Friday morning in the 125-pound quarterfinals. After losing to Illinois' Jesse Delgado in the semifinals, the Big Red rookie beat Virginia Tech's Jarrod Garnett and top-seeded Alan Waters of Missouri for third place. He finishes 43-5. "Once I lost I had nothing else to lose," said Garrett. "The rollercoaster for me started way before this tournament. The whole season I kept wondering if I was good enough, can I do this? It stings losing to (Jesse) Delgado, but it is what it is. I am not going to sulk over it. Next year is a new year." Garrett is one of just three freshman All-Americans, joining Oklahoma State's Alex Dieringer, who was third at 157 pounds, and The Citadel's Ugi Kishignyam, who was fourth at 141 pounds.
Cornell's Steve Bozak and Central Michigan's Ben Bennett met for third at 184 pounds with Bozak, a three-time All-American and champion in 2012, beating the Chippewa, 1-0. Bennett is the first four-time All-American in CMU history. Steve Santos' third place finish at 149 pounds gives Columbia its highest NCAA finish in history. He beat Minnesota's Dylan Ness to finish 31-2.
Iowa State finished with three All-Americans and put a good ending to a season that started rocky. Head coach Kevin Jackson's Cyclones totaled 41 ½ points and are tied for tenth with Illinois. Michael Moreno entered unseeded and finished sixth at 165 pounds; Kyven Gadson was sixth at 197 pounds; and Matt Gibson was eighth at 285 pounds. "It was a good feeling for a while," said Moreno, a sophomore. "Our goal was really to come here and finish in the top 10. We didn't have a good day (Saturday) but we showed we can scrap. "After what I went through last year, to come here and take sixth, I guess there is a silver lining." Moreno and Gadson return for the 2013-14 season. Northern Iowa totaled 34 points, putting two on the medal stand - David Bonin and Ryan Loder. Bonin (30-9) was fourth at 157 pounds after entering unseeded. Loder (34-6) was seventh at 184. Iowa, a contender at the start of the week, sits in fourth with 69 points, 30 behind third-place Minnesota. Tony Ramos and Derek St. John will wrestle on the stage tonight. But only two others finished in the top eight; Mike Evans (23-7) was sixth at 174 and Ethan Lofthouse (23-9) was fifth at 184 pounds.