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Looking Back at Penn State Wrestling’s Best All-Time Roster

David Taylor and Ed Ruth are wrapping up their careers as Nittany Lions in just a few weeks and will certainly go down as two of the best Penn State wrestlers ever. With the program’s recent success in mind, we decided to look back at the careers of some of the most notable Penn State wrestlers of all time.

The NCAA has made changes to the weight classes since some of these wrestlers competed, so some of the weight classes listed are no longer in use. Here’s our all-time roster (you can, and will, disagree in the comment section below):

Jeff Prescott (118)

Photo: Prescott Wrestling
Photo: Prescott Wrestling

Jeff Prescott is one of five two-time national champions for the Nittany Lions. He wrestled at 118 lbs and won national titles in 1991 and 1992. Prescott was a three-time Eastern Wrestling League (EWL) champion from 1990-1992, EWL Tournament Most Outstanding Wrestler in 1991, and EWL Wrestler of the Year in 1991 and 1992. He was the University National Freestyle Champion in 1990. Prescott coached high school wrestlers for over 10 years in Florida and won the state championship in 2005. He now runs a training center in western New York, near where he grew up.

Jim Martin (118/126)

Photo: Nittany Lion Grappling
Photo: Nittany Lion Grappling

Jim Martin is one of six Nittany Lion wrestlers who have been four-time All-Americans. He won his only title at 125 in 1988 in his junior season and was named EWL Freshman of the Year in 1986 and EWL Wrestler of the Year in 1988. Martin was a two-time EWL champion and has the most victories (155) and dual meet victories (73) in program history. He won 93.4% of his matches and was a U.S. Freestyle Champion in 1985 and was inducted into the EWL Hall of Fame. Martin graduated from the Penn State College of Medicine in 1993 and is now an orthopedic surgeon with his practice Martin & Suhey in State College.

Sanshiro Abe (126)

Photo: Daily Collegian
Photo: Daily Collegian

Sanshiro Abe steadily worked his way to a national title his senior year. A four-time All-American, he placed 4th, 3rd, and 2nd in the years preceding his championship in his senior year in 1996. Abe won Big Ten championships three times, losing his junior season to Jeff McGuiness of Iowa 6-4. His senior year was not only successful in the post-season, but he went a perfect 29-0. Abe was the 1995 Asian Freestyle Champion, and he was on the 1996 Japanese Olympic team. He now coaches Central Catholic High School in Pittsburgh with wrestlers attending Maryland, West Virginia, and Pitt to wrestle collegiately.

Frank Molinaro (141/149)

Photo: Jeff Roberson
Photo: Jeff Roberson

Frank Molinaro was a four-time All-American with the Nittany Lions from 2008-2012. Molinaro won a national title in his senior season in which he went undefeated, which he was named the co-Big Ten Tournament Most Outstanding Wrestler in the same season. He defeated Dylan Ness of Minnesota 4-1 to win in the finals. In the 2011 NCAA Championships, he lost in the finals to Kyle Dake of Cornell. Molinaro won Big Ten titles in 2011 and 2012. He is currently an assistant wrestling coach with Rutgers in his native state of New Jersey.

Greg Elinsky (158/167)

Photo: Nittany Lion Grappling
Photo: Nittany Lion Grappling

Greg Elinsky was a four-time All-American with Penn State, although he never won an individual championship. He was on the team from 1983-1987 and had three top-three finishes. Elinsky was a three-time EWL champion. After graduating from Penn State, he was the 1990 Pan American Freestyle Champion and the 1992 U.S. National Open Freestyle Champion. He was also an alternate for the U.S. National team for the 1992 Olympics. Elinsky was also inducted into the EWL Hall of Fame.

David Taylor (157/165)

Photo: Jeff Roberson
Photo: Jeff Roberson

David Taylor is looking to becoming a four-time All-American, four-time Big Ten champion, and two-time National Champion this season. He is a two-time Big Ten Wrestler of the Year, and nearly all of his career wins have come from off of bonus points. His freshman year he lost to Bubba Jenkins, a former Nittany Lion, who transferred upon Cael Sanderson’s arrival.

In his junior season, he lost to his friend and rival, Kyle Dake. Dake moved up a weight class, after wrestling Taylor at the NWCA All-Star Classic to win four championships at four different weight classes. Taylor’s 11-second pin on Senior Day was the second-fastest in team history. Taylor is four pins away from having the most career pins in team history. He won the Dan Hodge Trophy in 2011, which is awarded to the nation’s most outstanding wrestler.

Andy Matter (167)

Photo: Nittany Grappling
Photo: Nittany Grappling

Andy Matter was a two-time national champion in 1971 and 1972. He was a three-time Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) champion from 1970-1972. Matter places just behind David Taylor and Ed Ruth for overall winning percentage with a 96.7% winning percentage from 1970-1972 with a career record of 59-2. He was inducted into the EIWA Hall of Fame in 1999. Matter’s son Brett won the NCAA tournament in 2000 for Penn to become the fourth father-son pair to win an NCAA wrestling title.

Ed Ruth (174/184)

Photo:  Pat Donghia
Photo: Pat Donghia

While Ed Ruth suffered his first loss since his freshman season this year, he is still on his way to be the first Nittany Lion to win three individual championships at Penn State. Ruth and Taylor are looking to become the first four-time Big Ten champions for the Nittany Lions. In his freshman season, he became injured in the NCAA quarterfinals, but he recovered to place third in the tournament. Ruth’s titles came in 2012 and 2013, and he had major decisions in both final matches. His 84-match win streak was broken after losing in the finals at the Southern Scuffle to freshman Gabe Dean of Cornell, after he had just returned from a one month suspension. More than 75% of his wins have come with bonus points. Ruth was named Penn State Male Athlete of the Year and Big Ten Wrestler of the Year last season.

Quentin Wright (174/184/197)

Photo: Charlie Neibergall
Photo: Charlie Neibergall

Quentin Wright is just one of six Nittany Lion wrestlers to be a four-time All-American. He earned two national titles, one at 184 in 2011 and one at 197 in 2013. He went undefeated in his senior season, winning 32 matches with nearly half of those matches coming with bonus points. Wright also led the team with the most riding time points in duals with 9 riding time points in 13 dual meet matches. Wright was named the Big Ten Tournament Outstanding Wrestler in 2011. Until this season, he had been tied with David Taylor for second-most career falls with 37, but Taylor and Ed Ruth both passed that number this season. Despite the 2013 season being his last collegiately, he currently trains with the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club.

Phil Davis (197)

Photo: Cagepotato
Photo: Cagepotato

A current Mixed Martial Arts fighter, Phil Davis wrestled for the Nittany Lions from 2004-2008. Davis won an individual wrestling title in his senior season. A year after losing in the finals, Davis defeated Central Michigan’s Wynn Michalak 7-2, who had beaten Davis twice previously. Davis was a four-time All-American and two-time Big Ten champion. His record was 116-20 during his four years. He currently fights in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, where he is ranked 4th at light heavyweight (205 lbs.) He has 12 wins, a loss, and a no decision in his MMA career. Davis’ next match is April 26, 2014 against Anthony Johnson at UFC 172.

Kerry McCoy (HWT)

Photo: Daily Collegian
Photo: Daily Collegian

Kerry McCoy was the first Nittany Lion to win the Dan Hodge Trophy, which he achieved in 1997 after his second national championship. His first national championship came in 1994. He was also a three-time Big Ten champion and accumulated a 150-18 record, including an 88-match win streak in his junior and senior seasons. After his senior season, he was named Big Ten Tournament Most Outstanding Wrestler. McCoy is being inducted to the Wrestling Hall of Fame in June, in part to his two olympic appearances, a silver medal at the 2003 World Championships, and his five consecutive U.S. freestyle championships from 2000-2004. He is now the head coach at the University of Maryland.

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About the Author

Katie Blitz

I'm a freshman Public Relations major. I was born in Staten Island, but I prefer to say I'm from New York City. I went to Brooklyn Tech High School, a specialized high school, and I'm very proud of it. I'm a huge sports fan - mostly (and sadly) a New York Jets fan.


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