Penn State wrestling’s fourth straight Southern Scuffle victory on Thursday in Chattanooga may have been sullied slightly, as top-ranked Ed Ruth lost for the first time in 84 matches to Cornell’s Gabe Dean (#7) in the finals. It wasn’t even close, as Penn State put up 189 points to Oklahoma State’s 164.5 and Minnesota’s 161 in one of the most competitive tournaments of the year.
Ruth, who had three pins and a tech fall before the finals, lost his first match since freshman season after Dean nailed two takedowns in the finals to win a 7-4 decision. Ruth’s teammates David Taylor and Zain Retherford each won their championship bouts.
Here’s a breakdown of how Penn State’s wrestlers performed:
After a tech fall and a pin in Wednesday’s rounds, Taylor had a major decision in the quarterfinals, which was followed by a pin in the semifinals over No. 9 Zach Toal of Missouri. The championship bout at 165 was a potential NCAA Tournament preview, when Taylor faced No. 2 Tyler Caldwell. Taylor easily continued his undefeated season though with a 9-1 major decision.
Zain Retherford was seeded second in the scuffle, but the freshman was aided in his quest for the title when No. 1 seed Chris Dardanes of Minnesota was upset in the semifinals. Retherford had a two close 2-0 decisions in the quarterfinals and semifinals against No. 11 Zach Horan and No. 7 Chris Metcalfe, respectively, but No. 19 Joe Spisak from Virginia gave him his most difficult task in the tournament. Spisak took down Retherford late in the match to lead 4-3, but a Retherford’s riding time point sent the match into sudden victory. Retherford had the first takedown in sudden victory to win the 141 title.
With three decision wins in day one of the tournament, No. 17 and seventh-seeded Jimmy Gulibon faced his first ranked wrestler of the tournament in the quarterfinals in No. 5 Ryan Mango of Stanford. Gulibon defeated Mango in a 2-1 decision, and he went on to beat No. 10 David Thorn of Minnesota in a 4-3 decision in the semifinals. Gulibon was unable to upset top-ranked Jon Morrison of Oklahoma State in the finals, but he came in second place after dropping a 4-0 decision.
No. 3 Morgan McIntosh, who was also seeded third in the tournament, suffered his first two losses of the season at the scuffle. McIntosh was upset in the quarterfinals by No. 14 J’Den Cox of Missouri in a 2-0 decision. McIntosh won all of his bouts leading into the third place bout, where he faced Cox again. Cox defeated McIntosh in an 8-2 decision, giving McIntosh fourth place.
No. 3 Matt Brown had two falls, a major decision and a forfeit heading into the semifinals, when he defeated No. 5 Logan Storley of Minnesota in a 3-2 decision. Brown faced No. 2 Chris Perry of Oklahoma State in a rematch of last year’s NCAA Championship match. Perry defeated Brown 2-1 in tie breakers in the NCAA Championship, but this match was not as close with Perry winning in a 4-0 decision.
No. 2 Nico Megaludis defeated all of his opponents before the finals, including No. 6 Josh Martinez of Air Force. Megaludis and top-ranked Nahshon Garrett of Cornell for the fourth time in their careers, including in last year’s NCAA Championship match. Megaludis lost to Garrett in their previous two meetings, and he added a third loss in a 6-4 decision at the Scuffle to come in second place.
Penn State’s next match is against Purdue on January 12 at 2 p.m. in Rec Hall.