Wrestling Wins First Ever NWCA Dual Meet Championship
The final wrestling match of the season paired the nation’s two top teams — specifically the best team in the Big Ten and the best non-Big Ten team — against each other for the NWCA Dual Meet title. Penn State and Oklahoma State have both been tough competitors throughout the season, and the hype coming into the match was monumental for wrestling fans.
The Cowboys came in with a 12-2 record with their only losses coming in close matches against Iowa and North Carolina State. The Nittany Lions came in with a perfect 15-0 record with wins against some of the top teams in the nation. With the Big Ten boasting some of the toughest competition in the nation and Penn State having holding an undefeated record, the Nittany Lions weren’t ready to concede victory against another top ranked opponent. Penn State won what was, at times, an emotional battle. Matt McCutcheon went down to an injury after Nolan Boyd from Oklahoma State targeted his left knee repeatedly. The Nittany Lion claimed a 29-18 victory.
How It Happened
Starting at 125, No. 4 Nico Megaludis wrestled top ranked Eddie Klimara to kick off the championship match. Megaludis shocked everybody with a quick second period pin on Klimara. He started off leading 2-0 after one, and after getting Klimara on his back, he never let go and got the pin. At 133, No. 5 Jordan Conaway looked to add to the lead against Gary Wayne Harding. Conaway jumped out to an early 4-1 lead with 1:53 of riding time after one period. He continued to stay all over Harding as he had already racked up 3:36 of riding time after the second period, and remained aggressive into the third frame. Although Harding was able to savage a few points, Conaway won 8-4 with 2:03 of riding time to put Penn State up 9-0 through two matches.
At 141, Jimmy Gulibon took on No. 1 Dean Heil as Gulibon was looking for an upset victory. It was a tight battle the whole way through, as Heil was able to control Gulibon a little too much to capture a 9-5 victory, cutting the Nittany Lions’ lead to 9-3.
At 149, No. 1 Zain Retherford wrestled No. 12 Anthony Collica. The battle between the two was marked by stalemates and relatively slow wrestling. The score remained 2-1 after one period, and it stayed that way until the third when Retherford took a 3-1 lead on an escape. He held on to win 4-1 with 2:35 of riding time, giving the Nittany Lions a 12-3 lead with one match remaining before halftime. At 157, No. 1 Jason Nolf wrestled Ryan Blees. The match was over before it began as Nolf tossed Blees around like a rag doll throughout the entirety. Nolf was looking for at least a technical fall in the match, but he ended up getting a pin in the third period to propel the Nittany Lions to an 18-3 halftime lead.
At 165, Geno Morelli wrestled No. 1 Alex Dieringer. Morelli had faced tough competition all year at 165, and he hoped to translate that experience into this match. It didn’t translate very well as Morelli lost by technical fall 17-2. The loss cut the Penn State lead to 18-8. Looking to add back onto the lead, No. 1 Bo Nickal took the mat against Hestin Lamons. Nickal answered the Cowboys’ technical fall with one of his own after taking down Lamons to give the Nittany Lions a 23-8 lead. At 184, No. 6 Matt McCutcheon looked to seal the victory for Penn State against No. 13 Nolan Boyd. Boyd led attack after blatant attack on the injured knee of McCutcheon. No matter if the attacks were legal or not (Boyd was called for a violation), he won by injury default, cutting the Nittany Lions’ lead to 23-14.
At 197, No. 1 Morgan McIntosh wrestled Andrew Marsden. McIntosh pinned Marsden in the first period to secure Penn State’s victory in the NWCA Dual Meet Championship. At heavyweight, Jan Johnson wrestled Austin Marsden. No. 5 Marsden proved too much for Johnson as Marsden took a big lead in the first period and never let that lead go. He won 18-6, but Penn State won 29-18 to claim the NWCA Dual Meet Championship.
Wrestler Of The Match
Morgan McIntosh | Senior | 197-lb Weight Class
The senior, in his final match at Rec Hall, took the mat after an emotional finish to the McCutcheon-Boyd bout. The fans were fired up and angry at the previous match’s results, and McIntosh answered their cries with a pin in the first period to claim the first ever NWCA Dual Meet Championship for the Nittany Lions.
Penn State moves on to the Big Ten Championships in Iowa City two weeks from now starting on March 5. The Nittany Lions have a definite chance of winning a few weight classes, and have a good shot at being crowned Big Ten Champions once again. If the Lions can pull off the victory, it will be the first Big Ten Title for Penn State wrestling since it won four straight from 2011 to 2014.