Wrestling Squad Seeks Fourth Consecutive National Title
Penn State wrestling is coming off its third consecutive national championship. With Ed Ruth, David Taylor, Nico Megaludis, and Matt Brown returning, the team could be on its way to a fourth title, but there are still some roster spots to fill before the team opens its season.
While there is no intrasquad dual this season, many wrestlers will travel to the Binghamton Open on November 10 to help determine who will take some of the remaining starting spots.
The offseason was busy for most of the team. Andrew and Dylan Alton both had shoulder surgeries after dealing with injuries throughout last season. Head coach Cael Sanderson said that they are both about a month ahead of schedule but that they will likely not wrestle until December or January. Despite their injuries, Andrew is currently ranked eighth at 149 and Dylan is currently ranked sixth at 157 by InterMat.
While both Alton brothers were suspended for about a month last season, James English and James Vollrath stepped up during their absences. English was granted a sixth season with Penn State wrestling after earning an injury hardship waiver. English competed last season at 149 and placed third in the competitive Southern Scuffle tournament. Vollrath competed at 157 and was the runner-up in the Southern Scuffle tournament.
Megaludis, Ruth and Taylor were all in Russia for the World University Games in July, where Taylor earned a bronze medal. Taylor also participated in Rumble on the Rails, a matchup between the United States, Russia, and Iran in New York City over the summer, where he pinned his Iranian opponent.
Morgan McIntosh, who was High School Wrestler of the Year in 2011, is coming off a red-shirt season. McIntosh will wrestle at 197, filling big shoes as he replaces four-time All-American Quentin Wright. McIntosh wrestled two seasons ago as a true freshman at 197, where he placed fifth at the Big Ten Championships. McIntosh is currently ranked fourth by InterMat in his weight class. McIntosh will face three other wrestlers in the top 10 during the regular season.
Despite being ranked tenth by InterMat and wrestling at the Big Ten championships and NCAA championships, Jimmy Lawson still has not secured his spot in the lineup. Last season, Lawson and Jon Gingrich split time at heavyweight. Sanderson stated that Nick Ruggear will also be competing at heavyweight after suffering an injury last year.
While there isn’t a wrestler set yet at 141, Sanderson believes the team will still be competitive at the weight class. Redshirt freshman Zack Beitz had a 24-9 record in open tournaments last season, while sophomore Michael Waters posted an 8-8 record. The team also has three true freshman on the roster who could compete at 141.
Top-ranked Taylor and third-ranked Brown will compete in the NWCA All-Star Classic this Saturday at George Mason University. Ruth was initially slated to participate in the classic as well but was pulled from the classic due to a coach’s decision made a few weeks ago. Megaludis was also invited to participate but declined for family obligations.
Penn State’s eight home match schedule is highlighted by a dual against Oklahoma State on February 16 as well as a dual in the Bryce Jordan Center on December 8 against Pitt. The Oklahoma State dual’s standing room only tickets sold out within minutes Tuesday morning. Sanderson thinks that the BJC match will be able to sell out the 15,261 seat arena. In 2008, Iowa vs Iowa State at Carver Hawkeye Arena set the national record for largest dual meet crowd of 15,955. Sanderson was the coach of Iowa State at the time.
December is also highlighted by a dual at Boston University on December 6. Boston University will discontinue its wrestling program at the end of this season, and after speaking with Boston University, Sanderson decided to schedule a dual meet with the school hoping it could help efforts in possibly saving the team. Sanderson was also involved in saving Olympic wrestling for the 2020 and 2024 Olympics.
Earlier this year, Sanderson and Iowa wrestling coach Tom Brands organized a non-conference dual meet for the two teams December 21 in Iowa against the second-ranked Hawkeyes. The Southern Scuffle will take place on January 1 and 2 in Chattanooga, Tenn. In an important conference matchup, Penn State heads to third-ranked Minnesota on February 9.
Penn State’s first two duals are away on November 16 and 17 against Rider and Lehigh, respectively. The home opener will take place against Lock Haven on November 24.