Penn State Wrestling Hands No. 11 Michigan Its First Loss
Penn State defeated the only other undefeated wrestling team in the Big Ten, No. 11 Michigan on Sunday afternoon in Ann Arbor. While Penn State led only 13-6 at the half, three consecutive tech falls from David Taylor, Matt Brown and Ed Ruth to start the second half put the match out of reach for the Wolverines. The Nittany Lions eventually won 32-9.
Jordan Conaway, No. 16 Jimmy Gulibon and No. 2 Zain Retherford opened the match with three consecutive wins, including Gulibon’s 9-0 major decision win over Rossi Bruno.
Andrew Alton faced No. 7 Eric Grajales. Alton had an early 8-2 lead after three takedowns and two back points in the first period. Grajales escaped to start the second period and took Alton down with 48 seconds left in the period to cut the lead to 8-5. An intense third period started with Grajales taking Alton down twice and adding a stall point. Alton countered with a takedown of his own, but Grajales added another stall point to tie the match at 12. With 10 seconds left, Grajales added a final takedown and with time running out in the match, he pinned Alton at 6:56.
After the first period, No. 4 Dylan Alton and No. 14 Brian Murphy were scoreless. Murphy escaped to start the second period and Alton countered that with an escape of his own to start the third period. Neither added any points after that, so the match went to sudden victory time and eventually tie breakers. Alton started the first tie breaker down and Murphy rode him out. Murphy was down to start the second period, and he reversed Alton, but after a review, the call was reversed. The match went back to sudden victory and ended 20 seconds into the period when Alton had the first take down of the bout on Murphy for a 3-1 decision.
Returning from the break, top-ranked David Taylor took on No. 6 Dan Yates for the second time in his career, after a tech fall last year. After three takedowns and three near fall points in the first period, Taylor had an early 9-2 lead. Yates chose to start down in the second period, and Taylor took advantage of that adding 7 points without letting Yates escape. After Taylor quickly escaped to start the third, the match ended with a 17-2 tech fall at 5:17.
No. 3 Matt Brown had the second consecutive tech fall of the match over Collin Zeerip. An 11-3 first period for Brown came after four takedowns and three back points. Brown reversed Zeerip to start the second period. Brown added two back points before Zeerip escaped. Brown had two more takedowns with less than 15 seconds in the period to lead 19-5. Zeerip escaped to start the third period, but Brown took him down for the 21-6 tech fall at 5:35.
The third tech fall at the five-minute mark came when No. 2 Ed Ruth wrestled No. 20 Domenic Abounader. Three first period takedowns gave Ruth a 6-1 lead. Ruth reversed Abounader to start the second period. Two sets of three back points extended Ruth’s lead to 14-2 before the final period. Abounader started down to start the third period, and Ruth turned him for three back points and a 17-2 tech fall at 5:39.
No. 7 Morgan McIntosh had a 17-7 major decision over Chris Heald. Jon Gingrich and No. 2 Adam Coon were tied after Gingrich escaped to start the second period and Coon was awarded a stalling point, but Coon escaped to start the third period for a 2-1 victory.
The win guarantees Penn State at least a share of the Big Ten regular season title as it improves to 13-0 overall and 7-0 in the conference. The Nittany Lions are back in action against No. 3 Minnesota in Minneapolis on February 9 at 2 p.m. The match will be aired live on Big Ten Network.