A wild weekend of duals saw three of the top five teams in Division I taste defeat. The biggest surprise came inside Fitzgerald Fieldhouse in Pittsburgh where the 13th-ranked Panthers beat No. 5 Oklahoma State 19-18 on criteria.
Both teams won five bouts and the visiting Cowboys, now 4-4 this season, led 18-9 after second-ranked Chris Perry’s back-and-forth, down-to-the-wire overtime tiebreaker win against seventh-ranked Tyler Wilps at 174 pounds. But Pittsburgh, under first-year head coach Jason Peters, rallied with victories by Max Thomusseit (184), Nick Bonaccorsi (197), and fifth-year senior P.J. Tasser at heavyweight.Tasser, a Pittsburgh native, weighs in at barely 215 pounds. He beat the much bigger Austin Marsden in overtime.
“It’s a very big win for this program,” said Peters, who replaced the retired Rande Stottlemyer this season. “It’s big for Tasser, it’s big for everybody because this was a team effort. Any time you beat someone the caliber of Oklahoma State it raises expectations around your program.”
The star of the day may have been freshman Mikey Racciato, a native of Pen Argyl, Pa., who pinned Josh Kindig, a Pennsylvania native, at 149 pounds with a fantastic reversal and pin thanks to yet another version of the “cement-mixer” series made famous in Pennsylvania.
If that’s not enough to get you going, then how about Big Ten rivals Michigan, ranked 19th, and second-ranked Minnesota wrestling to the wire in Ann Arbor, Mich. Two significant results saw Eric Grajales beat second-ranked Nick Dardanes at 149 and freshman Brian Murphy knock off All-American Dylan Ness at 157 pounds; Steven Dutton also beat Gopher backup Josh Shupe 16-3 at 141 pounds. Shupe was filling in for All-American Chris Dardanes. UM rallied to cut the deficit to 16-14 with one match to wrestle when Adam Coon, a freshman, beat two-time NCAA champion Tony Nelson in overtime at heavyweight.
The trifecta was complete when ninth-ranked UNI beat fourth-ranked Oklahoma 19-17 in Norman, Okla. Joey Lazor’s pin at 141 and Ryan Loder’s 13-0 dismantling of Danny Chaid at 197 provided the difference.
Penn State and Iowa avoided the carnage; the Nittany Lions outscoring Indiana and Northwestern 75-14, and the Hawkeyes beating a tough Nebraska squad 22-9 in Lincoln, Neb.
Gary Taylor joined the 400-win club last Friday, watching his Rider Broncs beat Bloomsburg 20-16 in Lawrenceville, N.J. Taylor, a 1976 East Stroudsburg graduate, took over the Rider program in 1978 and has compiled a 400-226-4 dual record. Among active Division I head coaches, only Taylor and Minnesota’s J Robinson have reached 400 wins. Rider has won 13 conference titles and produced 13 All-Americans since Taylor’s arrival.
“I told them not to get caught up in that,” Taylor said. “These wrestlers are fighting for seeding in the conference and national championships. What was important was for them to handle their individual jobs. They wrestled their heart out and ended up winning the match. I'm very proud of them.
“Don't get me wrong, it is nice getting the 400th win. It’s an accomplishment and I’m excited by it. I will probably look back on it more in the future.”
Doug Umbehauer was the program’s last All-American, finishing third at 184 pounds in 2009. Sophomore 125-pounder Rob Deutsch may be Taylor’s best bet this March. Deutsch, ranked 15th, improved to 20-4 with a 7-1 victory against BU’s Sean Boylan.
And then there was … zero
The last of the unbeaten returning NCAA champions, 157-pounder Derek St. John of Iowa, lost to Nebraska’s James Green (22-0) on Saturday night. Green, a two-time All-American, scored two third-period takedowns to win a wild 9-7 match.
As of Jan. 20, Illinois’ Jesse Delgado (125), Ohio State’s Logan Stieber (133), Oklahoma's Kendric Maple (141), St. John, Oklahoma State’s Chris Perry (174), Penn State’s Ed Ruth (184) and Nelson have each lost at least one match this season.
By the numbers
• Division III powerhouse Wartburg continued its Iowa Conference domination with a 36-3 win over seventh-ranked Luther during the weekend. The Knights have won 167 consecutive duals against conference foes and 46 matches in a row overall.
• Lehigh and Navy have wrestled a dual 63 consecutive seasons with last Friday marking the 94th all-time meeting. A 26-6 Mountain Hawk victory evened the series at 47-47.
• Cornell moved its Ivy League dual win streak to 59 on Saturday night with an easy win against Harvard. The Big Red’s last conference loss came during the 2001-02 season.
• Michigan State’s conference struggles continued with a 35-3 loss to Minnesota last Friday. The Spartans are 2-26 against Big Ten opponents since the start of the 2010-11 campaign.