Penn State Sends Nine Wrestlers To Big Ten Championships Session 3
Saturday marked the start of the 2016 Big Ten Wrestling Championships in Iowa City, Iowa, and Penn State was out for vengeance after a disappointing finish last year. The Nittany Lions came in with four top-ranked wrestlers and nine of ten wrestlers ranked in the InterMat top 20. Just based off of the standings, the Nittany Lions were primed to win the Big Ten title, but nothing is ever that easy in the Big Ten Championships. With highly ranked wrestlers out of Iowa, Ohio State, and Nebraska, the Nittany Lions had a mountain to climb to win the title this year. The Nittany Lions climbed that mountain in the first two sessions as they sent nine wrestlers onto Session 3 and the finals. Six of those wrestlers, Nico Megaludis, Jimmy Gulibon, Zain Retherford, Jason Nolf, Bo Nickal, and Morgan McIntosh, will wrestle in the finals in their weight class. Geno Morelli will wrestle for seventh place, and Jordan Conaway and Matt McCutcheon will wrestle for at best a third place finish. The current team standings have Penn State in the lead with 133.0 points. Behind them are Iowa with 106.0 points, Ohio State with 100.0 points, and Nebraska with 98.5 points.
How It Happened
The first match for Penn State in Session 1 came when Nico Megaludis wrestled Mitch Rogaliner, the redshirt junior from Michigan State, at 125. Megaludis controlled the pace throughout the match, and he controlled the score at the end as he won a 15-5 major decision to secure his spot in the quarterfinals. At 133, Jordan Conaway had a similarly easy time in his first match as he cruised to a 12-3 major decision to gain a spot in the quarterfinals. Jimmy Gulibon had a bye at 141.
At 149, Zain Retherford only took 2:06 to pin Kyle Langenderfer of Illinois. He continued the early success of the Nittany Lions by also gaining a spot in the quarterfinals. Jason Nolf picked up where he left off at the end of the season as he pinned Doug Welch of Purdue in 2:53. At 165, Geno Morelli, perhaps the biggest wild card of the tournament given that he wrestled some of the top ranked wrestlers in the Big Ten throughout the season and held them close, fought for a 6-2 decision victory over Brandon Krone from Minnesota to earn a spot in the quarterfinals with every other wrestler who had already gone for Penn State. Bo Nickal and Matt McCutcheon both had byes into the quarterfinals.
Morgan McIntosh, in his final Big Ten Wrestling Championship, proved just how much he wanted to get a victory in his last appearance as he got a pin on his opponent, Jake Masengale from Indiana, in only 1:28. In the final preliminary match of the day, Nick Nevills went up at heavyweight against Brock Horwath of Wisconsin. Horwath was not ranked in the tournament, and Nevills was ranked No. 8, but Horwath was still able to beat Nevills in a 4-2 decision victory. Nevills was relegated to the consolation bracket where he wrestled later in Session 1. At the end of the preliminary round, Penn State earned nine of a potential ten spots in the quarterfinals, which put the Nittany Lions in a good position for the Big Ten title.
In the quarterfinals, at 125, Nico Megaludis went up against Johnny Jimenez, who had defeated his previous opponent, Francis Edelen of Illinois, by a 10-2 major decision. Megaludis answered that with a 10-2 major decision of his own over Jimenez, giving Megaludis a spot in the semifinals. Jordan Conaway was not able to defeat Ryan Taylor of Wisconsin at 133, and Conaway was relegated to the consolation bracket to wrestle later that night in Session 2. At 141, Jimmy Gulibon wrestled the No. 1 seed, Micah Jordan from Ohio State. With Gulibon being the only Nittany Lion not ranked in the InterMat top 20, he was one of the wild card guys who really could have propelled Penn State to a championship if everything didn’t go right for the Nittany Lions’ top ranked wrestlers. Gulibon played the card of the dark horse perfectly as he took Jordan into overtime. It took two tiebreakers until Gulibon finally came away with a 3-2 victory, advancing himself into the semifinals.
Zain Retherford went up against Jake Short from Minnesota in his quarterfinal match, and although he didn’t get a pin like he did in his first match, he still made short work of Short in a 14-4 major decision. He joined Megaludis and Gulibon in the semifinals. At 157, Jason Nolf made easy work of Brandon Kingsley of Minnesota, as he won a 21-5 technical fall at 6:22.
Geno Morelli was the next Nittany Lion to go down in the quarterfinals. He lost a hard-fought battle with Bo Jordan from Ohio State, a match that was very reminiscent of the BJC Dual this season against Ohio State where Morelli lost 3-2. Morelli likewise lost 3-2 in this match, which dropped him to the consolation bracket in Session 2. Bo Nickal won a 15-3 major decision at 174 that gave the Nittany Lions a little bit more momentum. Matt McCutcheon added onto that and also cemented his spot in the semifinals with a 6-2 decision victory over Jeff Koepke of Illinois. Morgan McIntosh was the last Nittany Lion to earn a spot in the semifinals as he pinned Jacob Cooper of Michigan State in 1:41.
In the only consolation match of Session 1 for Penn State, Nick Nevills controlled his match against Garret Goldman of Indiana as he won a 9-1 major decision to stay alive in the consolation bracket for Session 2.
At the end of Session 1, none of Penn State’s wrestlers were eliminated, and seven of the possible ten wrestlers advanced to the semifinals.
In the first match of Session 2, Jordan Conaway wrestled Alonzo Shepherd in a consolation match at 133. He was able to ride out Shepherd to an 11-3 major decision. He wrestled again later in Session 2. In the next consolation match, Geno Morelli wrestled Bryce Martin from Indiana at 165. Morelli dominated the entire match in riding time and the score, as he won a 9-3 decision with more than three minutes of riding time. He stayed alive and moved on in the consolation bracket. In the next consolation match, Nick Nevills wrestled Brooks Black from Illinois at heavyweight. Black proved too much for Nevills as Nevills lost a 5-3 decision. The loss ended his Big Ten Tournament and more than likely his season.
In the first semifinal match of the night, Nico Megaludis wrestled Thomas Gilman of Iowa. The two went into overtime in a tightly contested battle. Megaludis came out on top in overtime 4-3 to move onto the championship at 125. In a consolation match at 133, Jordan Conaway defeated Johnny DiJulius to stay alive in the consolation bracket.
At 141, Jimmy Gulibon took on Javier Gasca III from Michigan State in his semifinal match. It was a tight match all the way until the end. Gulibon was down 5-3 in the last 30 seconds until a late take down tied it at five. His riding time advantage gave him the extra point, putting him in the finals. Zain Retherford quickly pinned his opponent in 2:46 to move onto the championship at 149. Jason Nolf didn’t slow down at 157 as he got a technical fall by a score of 21-3 at 6:02, earning him a spot in the finals.
In a consolation match at 165, Geno Morelli didn’t stand a chance against Austin Wilson from Nebraska as Morelli was pinned in only 38 seconds. He will wrestle Sunday for seventh place in hopes of getting an at-large bid for Nationals.
At 174, Bo Nickal added another first period pin to move onto the finals for Penn State, as he pinned Myles Martin from Ohio State in 2:28. In a semifinal match at 184, Matt McCutcheon battled Sammy Brooks from Iowa. McCutcheon was never able to get much momentum in the match, and he lost a 6-1 decision to drop to the consolation bracket. At 197, Morgan McIntosh wrestled Aaron Studebaker for a chance to get to the final. McIntosh earned a trip to his final Big Ten Championship with an 8-2 victory over Studebaker.
At the end of Session 2, Penn State had six wrestlers move into the finals with three others still wrestling in the consolation bracket.
Wrestler Of The Match
Morgan McIntosh | Senior | 197-Pound Weight Class
It’s hard to point to a more dominant wrestler in any weight class in Session 1 other than Morgan McIntosh. He only wrestled for a little more than three minutes in two matches and recorded two pins. He was hungry for one more chance at a Big Ten Title in his senior year, and he wasn’t going to let early opponents slow him down.
Nico Megaludis | Senior | 125-Pound Weight Class
Nico Megaludis earns the honors for wrestler of the match in Session 2 because of his win over No. 2 Thomas Gilman. Gilman was a favorite to make it back to the finals for a rematch with Nathan Tomasello. Instead of a rematch, Megaludis broke that up, and he will face Tomasello in the finals at 125.
Session 3 and the Finals are next for the Nittany Lions. Their performance in these sessions will determine their finish in the Big Ten. Session 3 starts at 1 p.m. on Sunday, and the Finals start at 4 p.m. on Sunday.