Wrestling Wins Third Consecutive Big Ten Championship
Minnesota may have been the number one seed in this year’s Big Ten wrestling tournament, but Penn State, ranked No. 3, proved that they could be the best, winning their third consecutive Big Ten championship. Penn State was led by Ed Ruth, David Taylor, Quentin Wright, and Matt Brown, all of whom won individual Big Ten titles. All ten Nittany Lions will head to the NCAA Championships in Des Moines, Iowa in two weeks.
Ed Ruth continued his perfect junior season by a 18-3 tech fall at 5:53 in the quarterfinals, a 10-1 major decision in the semifinals, and a 5-3 decision over second seed Kevin Steinhaus of Minnesota in the championship. Ruth won his third consecutive Big Ten individual championship and will compete for his third NCAA individual championship later this March.
David Taylor also won his third consecutive Big Ten championship, and tech falled his first two opponents in leading him into the finals. Taylor added a 9-1 major decision over second seeded Conrad Polz of Illinois. Taylor is looking for his second NCAA individual championship.
Quentin Wright started the quarterfinals off with an impressive pin 1:20 into his first bout with Max Huntley of Michigan. In the semifinals, Wright had an escape point in the second period to earn a 1-0 decision over Andrew Campolattano of Ohio State. In the finals, Wright had a 5-3 decision over second seed Scott Schiller of Minnesota to give Wright his second Big Ten title.
Fifth seed Matt Brown also had a successful weekend. In the quarterfinals, Brown faced fourth seed Nick Heflin of Ohio State who had previously defeated Brown earlier this winter. Brown scored a 7-1 decision over Heflin. In the semifinals, Brown defeated eighth seed Dan Yates of Michigan 5-1. Brown faced second seed and No. 3 in the country Mike Evans of Iowa, another wrestler who had previously defeated Brown in the finals. Evans started the first period with a point due to a penalty from Brown. To a rousing applause from a large Penn State crowd, Brown took down Evans and added back points to lead 6-1. Brown added a riding time point to eventually win his first Big Ten championship 7-4.
After a 4-2 decision in the quarterfinals, second seed Nico Megaludis lost 6-3 in the semifinals to third seed Jesse Delgado of Illinois. Megaludis had a 4-1 decision in consolation semifinals over fifth seed Nikko Triggas of Ohio State to send Megaludis into the third place bout. Megaludis then defeated fourth seed Sean Boyle of Michigan 4-1 to win third place in the Big Ten championship, an improvement over last year’s fifth place in Big Tens. Last year, Megaludis was runner-up at NCAAs, so don’t be surprised if Megaludis makes a run in two weeks.
After a 3-2 decision in the first round, fifth seed Andrew Alton lost in the quarterfinals to fourth seed Jake Sueflohn 10-6. Sueflohn teched Alton earlier this season. After a 16 second pin, a decision over top seed Eric Grajales of Michigan, and a major decision in the consolation semifinals, Alton worked himself into the third place bout, where he faced second seed Ivan Lopouchanski of Purdue, who pinned Alton at 4:06. Alton’s fourth place finish was an improvement over his 2011 fifth place finish.
Jordan Conaway had a difficult start, winning 6-5 in a two-round tie-breaker in the quarterfinals over fifth seed Daryl Thomas of Illinois. Conaway then faced the top seed and top wrestler in the country in the weight class, Logan Steiber of Ohio State. Steiber teched Conaway at 1:28. Conaway lost in the consolation semifinals with a 7-2 decision to sixth seed Chris Dardanes of Minnesota. Conaway faced Thomas again in the fifth place bout, defeating him a bit easier this time, with a 4-1 decision.
Fourth seed Bryan Pearsall teched Tom Kelliher in the first round to face fifth seed Brandon Nelsen of Purdue. Nelsen defeated Pearsall in the quarterfinals in a 2-1 decision. Pearsall won his first two consolation bouts, but fell in the consolation semifinals with a 7-2 decision to second seed Nick Dardanes of Minnesota. Pearsall defeated seventh seed Pat Greco of Northwestern 4-2 in sudden victory to give Pearsall fifth place in his final season as a Nittany Lion.
After a third place finish at Big Tens last year, third seed Andrew Alton lost in the quarterfinals after two rounds of tie breakers to sixth seed Josh Demas of Ohio State, who Alton had defeated earlier this season. After two wins in consolations, top seed Derek St. John pinned Alton at 6:36. Alton lost his fifth place bout to eighth seed Danny Zilverberg of Minnesota to receive sixth place.
Jimmy Lawson, seeded seventh, lost to second seed Mike Mullen of Northwestern 6-4 in the quarterfinals. In consolations, sixth seed Adam Chalfant defeated Lawson 7-4. In the seventh place bout, Lawson was pinned in sudden victory by fifth seed Michael McClure, giving Lawson an eighth place finish.
In only four short years, head coach Cael Sanderson has established a flourishing wrestling program in Happy Valley with studs such as the aforementioned Ed Ruth and David Taylor. Now, they’ll set their sights on Des Moines, Iowa, where the NCAA tournament will take place March 21-23 at Iowa State.