Penn State Wrestling Crowns Six Champions
As Rec Hall began emptying out Sunday evening as the 2011 Nittany Lion Open came to a conclusion, Penn State wrestling head coach Cael Sanderson walked around the floor of Rec Hall picking up trash and cleaning up from a long day of wrestling, which was fitting, as Sanderson’s fifth-ranked Nittany Lions cleaned up at their home tournament, crowning six champions and placing eighteen wrestlers total during the daylong event.
“I was happy with how we wrestled as a team today, there were a ton of positives,” Sanderson said.
For all of Penn State’s wrestlers, especially those who have yet to compete in a dual meet, it was a chance to get on the mat for just the third time this season, as Penn State’s trip to the Southern Scuffle in January caused scheduling conflicts that led to just two dual matches thus far.
“I think a lot of our guys were kind of bored with not being able to wrestle live as much as last year, so this was a great opportunity to get our guys on the mat, and there was a lot of great competition here today.”
The stiffest competition may have came in the 165 pound bracket, home to sophomore and number one ranked David Taylor. Taylor pinned his way through to the finals, setting up the marquee match of the day with American’s Steve Fittery, who Taylor beat in the semi-finals of last year’s NCAA tournament en route to the finals where he ultimately lost.
Fittery gained control and lead early, but Taylor quickly used a pair of takedowns to get on top, and never trailed after the first period, leading 8-5 at the end of the second period, and ultimately wining by major decision 14-6 to clinch the championship at 165.
“I want to get better at pinning, and I had four today, so that’s a good start,” Taylor said.
Penn State’s other five champions were Nico Megaludis at 125 pounds, an 11-1 winner over Colin Fought of N.C. State in the championship match, Frank Molinaro at 149 pounds by fall Donnie Vinson of Binghamton, Ed Ruth at 174 pounds, a 7-4 winner over Maryland’s Jimmy Sheptock, 184 pounder Quentin Wright, a tech fall winner over Kent State’s Colton Baxter, and finally, heavyweight Cameron Wade, who also won by fall at the 1:26 mark over Kent State’s Quintas McCorkle.
Molinaro’s fall took all of a minute and twenty-three seconds, after he caught Vinson trying to scramble, and nailed him with a tight banana split for the victory.
“I just caught him, and I thought he was going to get nervous and try and come over top of me, but I locked it in tight and got the pin,” Molinaro said.
“I feel like all the guys are wrestling really well, and I think we’re in good shape heading into Lehigh.”
Dylan Alton and Morgan McIntosh finished as runners-up at 157 pounds and 198, respectively. Alton, while trying to escape, was caught and pinned by 8th ranked James Flemming of Clarion at the 1:58 mark, and McIntosh lost a back and forth match to Maryland’s Christian Boley.
“Morgan just has to stay positive, he did a lot of good things today, and I think he can certainly be a national champion this year,” Sanderson said.
Penn State will be off until traveling to Lehigh for a dual meet next Friday before hosting West Virginia at 2 p.m. at Rec Hall on Sunday.
Penn State placed NUMBER wrestlers, including Jordan Conaway in fourth place at 125, Frank Martelloti in eighth place at 133, Andrew Alton and Seth Beitz in third and fifth place at 149 pounds, respectively, Nick Fischer and James Vollrath in second and third place at 151 pounds, respectively, Matt Brown, fifth place, at 174 pounds, Justin Ortega, eighth place at 198 pounds, and Nick Ruggear and John Gingrich in fourth and fifth place respectively at heavyweight.
Derek Reber was 3-0 in the 133 pound bracket before taking a medical default, which Sanderson said was something the coaching staff has discussed going in as Reber continues to rehab his ankle.
Sam Sherlock suffered an ankle injury as well, taking an injury default after his second loss of the day. Sanderson was unaware of the severity of the injury, but expected Sherlock to be able to wrestle on Friday.