UNIVERSITY PARK — Stalling hasn’t helped Nico Megaludis’ opponents this season. It hasn’t frustrated Penn State’s No. 2 ranked 125-pounder, either.
When his foes have backed up, Megaludis has kept coming. When they’ve bellied out on the mat, Megaludis has cut them loose and gone right back on the offensive. Such is the daily approach for a grappler as relentless as Megaludis, who, in his sophomore season as Penn State’s leadoff man, is leading the Nittany Lions in nearly every dual meet statistical category.
“He’s going to use every second to his advantage,” Penn State coach Cael Sanderson said. “It doesn’t get much better than that. He comes out with fire.”
Last March, Megaludis capped a stellar true-freshman season with a runner-up finish in the NCAA Tournament. Then, the Franklin Regional product tallied 57 dual-meet takedowns, second only to Hodge Trophy winner David Taylor who finished with 62.
This season Megaludis leads the No. 1 Nittany Lions (5-0, 2-0) with 28 takedowns. He’s on pace to finish with 78, despite the fact that his opponents have been warned for stalling 12 times and given up six points for delay tactics meant to stifle Megaludis’ offense.
That strategy didn’t help Michigan State’s Brenan Lyon, who was able to stall his way out of giving up a technical fall to Megaludis last Sunday, but still gave up a bonus point in a 19-6 loss by major decision.
“That’s what people do, I guess,” Megaludis said.
“That’s what he wanted, not to get teched. I think almost every match this year, people are backing up. There’s exceptions, but a lot of them are backing up and I have to do a lot of the work it seems like.”
A lot of that work is done inside the Lorenzo Wrestling Complex.
“We’re doing little drills where the guy is almost going live, where he’s just basically stalling, because I’m getting a lot of that,” Megaludis said.
Megaludis grew used to opponents biding their time against him in high school. It’s taken numerous practice sessions to find ways around similar strategies employed by more talented collegiate opponents.
So far, Megaludis has been effective, wrestling like a man on fire to start every dual. His prowess as an early tone-setter is the biggest reason why Sanderson never opts to randomly choose a starting weight if given the opportunity.
“Even if I was in the middle, I’m sure I’d like that. Right now, I like where I’m at, starting off every dual meet,” Megaludis said. “If I can get the reputation of having a non-stop motor and just being relentless, if I can keep on working to achieve that, that’ll be awesome.”
Big, bad Jon
Sophomore heavyweight Jon Gingrich was named the Big Ten Wrestler of the Week after his performance against Michigan State on Sunday.
It was the first time Gingrich, who recently overtook sophomore Jimmy Lawson as Penn State’s starting heavyweight, has been honored with that award.
Gingrich electrified the capacity crowd inside Rec Hall with a powerful takedown and 5-3 win over then-No. 4 Morgan McClure to cap Penn State’s 41-0 win. For his efforts, Gingrich broke into InterMat’s Top 20 individual rankings for the first time, debuting at No. 16. McClure fell to No. 7.
It is the second time a Penn State wrestler has won the award as junior No. 1 184-pounder Ed Ruth garnered the conference honor last week.
Morgan on the mend
It wouldn’t be an unrealistic expectation for Nate Morgan to have the blues.
Instead, the 133-pound sophomore was all smiles at Penn State’s practice on Tuesday. Morgan recently had surgery to repair his right knee he injured against West Virginia on Nov. 18. With a full wrap on his leg and hobbling about on crutches, Morgan smiled when asked how his knee felt.
“It’s feeling better,” he said.
It is the second season-ending injury for Morgan in his career. He was hit by a car on the Penn State campus following his true freshman season. The accident left him with a broken left leg and torn left ACL and forced him to miss the entire 2011-12 season.
Tickets to see the two-time defending Big Ten and national champions have been tough for Penn State wrestling fans to come by for some time now.
Season tickets have sold out well before the season has started each of the past two years and standing-room-only tickets have been gobbled up quickly.
It’ll be tougher for Penn State fans to get to the NCAA Tournament in Des Moines, Iowa, come March as the university was given just over half of the allotment of tickets it requested for the event at the Wells Fargo Center.
“I don’t think anybody probably got what they requested because it’s a smaller venue this year,” Sanderson said.
“We got, I think a little over half of what we requested. We had 800-plus requests that we in turn requested and we got 450 or something like that.”
Last season’s tournament was held at the Scottrade Center, home of the NHL’s St. Louis Blues, which can hold up to 21,151 when configured for wrestling. The Wells Fargo Center’s maximum capacity is 16,980 when set up to host a concert with a central stage. Its minimum capacity is 15,181 when configured to host a hockey game. The arena website does not list a seating capacity for wrestling events and arena representatives could not be reached for an inquiry as to what the capacity will be.