Penn State Wrestlers Claim National Title
The Nittany Lion wrestling team claimed the national championship this weekend at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, giving Penn State its first title since 1953.
Head coach Cael Sanderson, the Big Ten Coach of the Year, won his first team title as a wrestler or coach in just his second season at Penn State. The squad earned 107.5 points on the weekend topping second place Cornell with 93.5 and third place Iowa with 86.5.
Penn State sent eight wrestlers to the tournament, and five earned All-America status. Quentin Wright claimed the title at 184 pounds, and was the lone individual champion for the Lions.
Wright came into the tournament as the ninth seed overall after an impressive showing at the Big Ten championships. Fully healed from a mid-season shoulder injury, Wright cruised to five straight wins including a 5-2 decision over Lehigh’s Robert Hamlin to secure his individual crown.
Penn State had two other finalists, Frank Molinaro and David Taylor. In the 149 pound final, Molinaro took on defending national champion Kyle Dake of Cornell. Dake took control from the beginning and never looked back, beating Molinaro in an 8-1 decision. Molinaro finished the season 32-3 and achieved All-American status for the third consecutive season. Taylor, a freshman, took his perfect season at 157 pounds onto the mat against Arizona State’s Bubba Jenkins, who transfered from Penn State shortly after Sanderson’s hire. Though Taylor took an early 1-0 lead, he got caught in a cradle in the second period and was pinned shortly after. He finished the season 38-1.
Andrew Long at 133 and Ed Ruth at 174 both took third place for the Lions. Long was a national runner-up last season at 125 pounds. He finished up his year (20-2) earning All-American status for the second time. Ruth came into the tournament seeded second, but was upset in the quarterfinals by Stanford’s Nick Amuchastegui, who eventually finished second. He avenged the early loss by winning four straight matches on his way to a third place finish. Ruth ended his season 38-2.
Brad Pataky at 125, Andrew Alton at 141, and Cameron Wade at 285 all won matches in the tournament to contribute to the national championship effort, though none reached the medal round. Pataky finished the year 12-7, Alton finished 30-10, and Wade was 30-8.
Behind Coach Sanderson, Penn State won the national title with relative ease. Next season the Lions return nine out of ten starters, eight of whom will be sophomores or juniors. It looks like there is a dynasty in the making in Happy Valley.