Penn State repeats as Big Ten champ
Nittany Lions grab three repeat titles to run past Minnesota
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Penn State was simply dominating on Sunday, crowning three repeat champions in a perfect title match run and rolling to the team’s second consecutive Big Ten championship. Penn State was nearly perfect throughout the Sunday session and ran away from both Minnesota and Iowa in the team title race.
Penn State qualified nine wrestlers for the NCAA meet with a 10th alive for an at-large bid.
Three Nittany Lions repeated as Big Ten champions with each posting bonus-point victories. Three-time All-American Frank Molinaro became a two-time Big Ten champion at 149 pounds with a tech fall against Minnesota’s Dylan Ness, All-American David Taylor majored Iowa’s Mike Evans at 165 and All-American Ed Ruth majored Minnesota’s Logan Storley at 174.
The morning began with the consolation quarterfinals and seventh-place bouts, with seven Lions looking for important team points. Freshman Nico Megaludis opened up Penn State’s day and was upset by fifth-seed Levi Mele of Northwestern, getting pinned in sudden victory at the 7:35 mark. Freshman Dylan Alton was up next for Penn State in a consolation semifinal at 157 where he worked his way to a hard-fought 3-2 win against No. 18 Josh Demas of Ohio State to move into the third-place bout later in the day.
Two-time All-American Quentin Wright picked up important bonus points with a 9-0 major against Michigan State’s Ian Hinton in the consolation semis at 184. Freshman Morgan McIntosh mounted a serious comeback against top-seed Sonny Yohn of Minnesota at 197 in the consolation semi before dropping a tough 4-2 decision. Senior Cameron Wade picked up more bonus points by pinning Indiana’s Adam Chalfant at heavyweight at the 2:09 mark.
Two Nittany Lions wrestled for seventh place. Sophomore Frank Martellotti took on No. 18 Ridge Kiley of Nebraska for seventh at 133 with an automatic bid to NCAAs on the line. Martellotti locked up Penn State’s ninth automatic bid by riding out Kiley in the third and using the riding time point for a 4-3 win.
Junior Bryan Pearsall closed out a strong tournament with an 8-2 win against Purdue’s Brandon Nelson for seventh at 141. Pearsall, who went 3-2 with a pin and a major, finished above seed in seventh and is 15-12 on the year. The junior is on the board to be considered for an at-large bid.
The afternoon’s championship session featured the fifth, third and final bouts at each weight.
Megaludis posted a solid 4-1 win against Purdue’s Camden Eppert and took fifth place. Molinaro was up next with his championship final bout at 149 against No. 9 Dylan Ness of Minnesota. Molinaro, still undefeated on the year and now a two-time Big Ten Champion, used a takedown, a reversal and four near falls to roll to a 15-0 technical fall at the 4:90 mark. Molinaro’s dominating performance in a 3-0 weekend included a pin and two technical falls.
After Molinaro’s fireworks, Alton stepped onto the mat at 157 to take on No. 9 Anthony Jones of Michigan State for fifth place. Alton posted a 2-1 tiebreaker win for a solid third-place finish. Taylor was next for Penn State and last year’s 157-pound Big Ten champion and the Lion sophomore made it two in a row with a dominating 11-2 major decision against No. 6 Mike Evans of Iowa in the 165-pound final. Taylor broke open a close match in the second period with a reversal and then added two takedowns and a near fall to post the 11-2 win.
Ruth then made it a perfect day for Penn State in the final, posting a superb 13-2 major against No. 6 Logan Storley in the 174-pound title tilt. Ruth was in control from the start, leading 4-1 after one period and moving out to an 8-2 lead with a reversal and takedown in the second. Two two-point turns and nearly 5:00 riding time in the third pushed Ruth on to the 13-2 major decision.
Penn State continued to roll after its finalists were done. Wright posted an 8-7 win against Dallago of Illinois to finish third at 184 and McIntosh received a forfeit win in the fifth-place bout at 197, picking up two more bonus points in the process. Senior Wade closed out Penn State’s championship run with a solid 4-3 win against No. 12 Mike McMullan of Northwestern to take third at 285.
Penn State won the team title going away, tallying 149.0 points to second place Minnesota’s 134.0. Penn State dominated the team awards as well. Nittany Lion head coach was named 2012 Big Ten Coach of the Year, earning his second consecutive nod. Taylor was named 2012 Big Ten Wrestler of the Year, earning his second conseuctive award. Molinaro was named 2012 Big Ten Championships Co-Outstanding Wrestler with Michigan’s Kellen Russell. Ohio State’s Logan Stieber was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year.