Led by individual titles from Ed Ruth and David Taylor, Penn State claimed its fourth consecutive wrestling championship last night in Oklahoma City’s Chesapeake Energy Arena, becoming only the third team in history to win four straight titles.
No. 2 Ruth defeated top-seed Jimmy Sheptock of Maryland 7-2 in the finals to become Penn State’s first three-time National Champion. Top-ranked Taylor defeated No. 2 Tyler Caldwell of Oklahoma State with a 6-0 victory in his fourth finals match. Taylor also tied the Penn State record for most all-time career pins with 53 earlier in the tournament.
“Anyone that’s watched David Taylor or Ed Ruth wrestle is an instant wrestling fan,” head coach Cael Sanderson said. “Those guys are fun to watch — they wrestle with fire and passion. You need heroes and guys like that to build the sport. To be able to finish off the way they did has been amazing.”
Despite these dubious t-shirts, Penn State outpaced conference rival Minnesota by 1.5 points, finishing with 105.5. The team also left Oklahoma City with seven All-Americans, the most since 1992.
“[Taylor] put this team on his shoulders several times. All I asked him was to do it was one more time. I know that’s asking a lot, but he did it,” Sanderson said. “Anytime you talk about the greats of wrestling, his name will be mentioned. I’m not a historian but I’d take him over everyone else.”
Taylor became Penn State’s first ever four-time finalist and took on Caldwell just after Penn State clinched its team championship. Takedowns in the first and second period propelled the “Magic Man” to an easy 6-0 win. With the victory, Taylor becomes the sixth two-time NCAA Champion in Penn State history.
“Tonight will be something I remember for a long time,” Taylor said. “Most kids dream about hitting the game winning shot or hitting the game winning touchdown…I dreamt of getting my hand raised and winning a team championship.”
Ruth dominated his match from the start, securing two takedowns in the first period en route to a 7-2 win over Sheptock. Along with Taylor, Ruth became a four-time All-American. Neither teammate ever lost to a Big Ten opponent, in a tournament or dual meet.
“It’s an honor to become Penn State’s first three-time champion,” Ruth said. “Hopefully, somebody else comes along and ties my record [of 136 wins]. It’s a great way to end my career.”
In other results….
- No. 3 seed Nico Megaludis defeated No. 8 seed Cory Clark of Iowa in the consolation semifinals. He defeated No. 16 seed Joey Vance of Virginia Tech in a 6-1 decision to win third place.
- No. 3 seed and true freshman Zain Retherford placed fifth, after losing in the consolation semifinals to top-seed Mitchell Port. Retherford defeated No. 11 seed Joey Lazor of Northern Iowa after a medical forfeit to gain crucial team bonus points.
- Unseeded and sixth-year senior James English worked his way through consolations after a second round loss to earn his first All-American title and win the seventh place bout. English defeated No. 4 seed Kendric Maple of Oklahoma 2-1 in tie breakers.
- No. 5 seed placed fifth after losing to No. 6 seed Logan Storley of Minnesota in sudden victory 3-1. He defeated No. 4 seed Mike Evans 6-3 in the fifth place bout, after he lost to Evans in tie breakers in the quarterfinals.
- After being upset in the second round, Morgan McIntosh wrestled his way through consolation rounds to the consolation quarterfinals. McIntosh faced No. 5 seed Kyven Gadson, where McIntosh dropped a 5-3 decision. McIntosh won his seventh place bout when he defeated No. 11 seed Nathan Burak of Iowa in a 3-1 decision.
- No. 14 seed Jon Gingrich, No. 13 Dylan Alton and unseeded redshirt freshman Jimmy Gulibon did not place at the championships.