While the Bryce Jordan Center was filled to capacity and the THON total was being revealed on the opposite side of campus, the wrestling team was taking care of business at Rec Hall, the previous site of THON, as it took down Clarion, 43-3.
Wrestlers David Taylor and Ed Ruth had their last home dual on Sunday afternoon. Both pinned their opponents, which is nothing unusual for either of them, as 216 of their 258 combined wins came with bonus points.
“In some ways, it’s just a another match, but it’s my last one here,” Taylor said after the match.
It was more than just another match for the spectators who came to see Taylor and Ruth in their last Rec Hall appearance, but they did not get to see them wrestle for long. Taylor pinned his opponent in just 11 seconds, while Ruth’s pin came two matches later at 1:05.
“I’m just like the people in the stands. I just enjoy watching them wrestle,” head coach Cael Sanderson said when asked what he would miss most about the two wrestlers. “That’s why people will be talking about these two forever.”
Ruth and Taylor led the Nittany Lions to three consecutive national championships. Individually, Ruth won three individual NCAA Championships, while Taylor won a title and won the 2012 Dan Hodge Trophy, which is given annually to the best wrestler in the country.
Taylor’s 11 second pin was the second-fastest in school history, which is just one of the many historical feats that the two wrestlers have accomplished during their decorated careers. Taylor and Ruth weren’t the only wrestlers who had an exciting senior day, though. Senior James English “earned the right to start” at 149, according to Sanderson, after winning a wrestle-off this week.
English is in his sixth and final season with Penn State, after earning a medical hardship waiver from the NCAA. English’s last match in Rec Hall resulted in a 7-2 victory over Justin Arthur.
In addition to Taylor and Ruth’s pins, Matt Brown and Morgan McIntosh each had a pin, giving Penn State four consecutive pins in what some call “Murderer’s Row.”
Despite four pins in a row, Cael Sanderson wasn’t overly impressed, as he stressed the importance of bonus points and pins that Penn State will need to succeed in the upcoming Big Ten and NCAA Tournaments.
While the seniors and the four pins stole the show, the match started off with two tech falls. The first was a 21-5 tech fall from Nico Megaludis that came at the end of the second period, which was followed by a first period 15-0 tech fall from Jimmy Gulibon.
The only loss of the afternoon came in the heavyweight match from Jimmy Lawson. Despite a last second comeback, a riding time point in favor of Evan Daley resulted in a 7-6 loss.
Next up for Penn State wrestling is the Big Ten tournament, which will take place on March 8 and 9 in Madison, Wisconsin. The team has won the tournament the past three seasons. Last year, four Nittany Lions won individual titles, including Brown, Ruth, and Taylor.