Penn State wrestling: Nittany Lions lead Big Tens, qualify whole team for NCAAs

For the CDTMarch 10, 2013 

— By now, Penn State wrestling fans are used to Cael Sanderson’s Nittany Lions marking famous firsts on the mat.

On Saturday, after the first day of competition at the 2013 Big Ten Wrestling Championships, Penn State did something it hasn’t done since 1997. For the first time in 16 years, the Penn State wrestling team will be sending its entire lineup to the NCAA Championships.

All 10 Nittany Lions earned a trip to the Wells Fargo Center in Des Moines, Iowa, on March 21-23 with their performances at the University of Illinois’ Assembly Hall.

Penn State is well on its way to a third consecutive Big Ten team title, as well. After the first day, the Nittany Lions are in first with 123 points, 10.5 ahead of Minnesota, which is in second with 112.5. Iowa is in third with 109, followed by Ohio State (92) and Illinois (72.5).

Nico Megaludis (125 pounds), Jordan Conaway (133), Bryan Pearsall (141), Andrew Alton (149), Dylan Alton (157), David Taylor (165), Matt Brown (174), Ed Ruth (184), Quentin Wright (197) and Jimmy Lawson (285) will all travel to Des Moines for the NCAA Championships in two weeks

The two-time defending Big Ten and NCAA champion Nittany Lions will have four wrestlers vying for Big Ten championships, when the finals start at 2:30 this afternoon: Taylor, Brown, Ruth and Wright.

Megaludis, Conaway, Pearsall, Andrew Alton and Dylan Alton are all still alive for third-place finishes. Each will wrestle in the consolation semifinals that start at 12:30 today.

Lawson will wrestle for seventh place.

Taylor was Penn State’s first finalist. He blitzed Iowa’s Nick Moore 15-0 in 2:27, in the semifinals. Taylor had a preliminary round bye before rolling up a 20-5 technical fall in 5:45 over Mark Martin of Ohio State in the quarterfinals. Taylor will take on Illinois No. 2 seed Conrad Polz in the finals.

At 174, fifth-seeded Brown posted a 5-1 decision over surprise semifinalist Dan Yates of Michigan. Yates upset No. 1 seed Logan Storley of Minnesota in the quarterfinals. Brown picked up a pair of easy wins to cruise into the semifinals. He started with a fall in 6:15 over Cheney Dale of Indiana. Then, in the quarterfinals, he hit a big five-point throw late in the third period to decision No. 4 seed Nick Heflin of Ohio State, 7-1.

Brown earned a rematch with Iowa No. 2 seed Mike Evans in the finals.

No. 1 seed Ruth breezed into the finals with a bye and a technical fall. He rolled up a 19-3 win in 5:58 over Ohio State No. 8 seed C.J. Magrum in the quarterfinals. Then, against Iowa’s Ethen Lofthouse, the No. 5 seed, in the semifinals, Ruth breezed again, 10-1. He meets No. 2 seed Kevin Steinhaus of Minnesota in the final.

At 197, top-seeded Wright eked out a 1-0 win over Ohio State No. 4 seed Andrew Campolattano in the semifinals after having spent just 1:20 on the mat in a quarterfinal pin of Michigan’s Max Huntley in the quarterfinals. Wright had a bye in the first round. Wright will take on No. 2 seed Scott Schiller of Minnesota in the final.

Megaludis and Conaway both lost in the semifinals.

Megaludis, after a first-round bye, scored a hard-fought 4-2 win over Minnesota No. 7 seed David Thorn. Megaludis, the second seed, was no match for No. 3 seed Jesse Delgado in the semifinals. Delgado scored a convincing 6-3 win. Megaludis meets Ohio State’s Nikko Triggas in a consolation semifinal bout at 12:30 today.

Conaway, seeded fourth at 133, received a bye before taking on Illinois No. 5 seed Daryl Thomas. Conaway earned a 6-5 win in the second tiebreaker period. He escaped from Thomas in his 30-second tiebreaker period and then rode out Thomas to secure the win. No. 1 seed and defending national champion Logan Stieber made quick work of Conaway, pinning him in 1:29 in the semifinals. Conaway will look to bounce back against Minnesota’s Chris Dardanes in the consolation semifinals.

At 141, Pearsall earned his first trip to nationals with a rollicking 19-11 win over Camryn Jackson of Michigan. He had started his night with a 6-4 second-round consolation round win over Alex Gregory of Indiana. Pearsall started his day with a fall in 1:25 over Wisconsin’s Thomas Kelliher in the preliminaries. Then, in the quarterfinals, he was clipped by Purdue’s Brandon Nelsen, 2-1.

Pearsall will see Minnesota’s Nick Dardanes in the consolation semifinals.

The Alton twins recovered from quarterfinal losses to earn NCAA berths.

Andrew Alton pinned Dylan Marriott in 16 seconds in the second round of consolations before rolling up a 14-8 win over No. 1 seed Eric Grajales of Michigan. Alton, the No. 6 seed at 149, had to survive a 3-2 decision over Iowa’s Josh Dziewa in the preliminary round. In the quarterfinals, he was dominated by Nebraska No. 3 seed Jake Sueflohn, 10-6. Alton takes on Michigan State’s Dan Osterman in the consolation semifinals.

Dylan Alton squeaked by Michigan State’s Ryan Watts 3-2 in the third round of consolations after pinning Purdue’s Tommy Churchard in 1:03 in the previous round.

Alton, the No. 3 seed at 157, cruised past Wisconsin’s Kalvin York, 8-3, in the preliminaries. However, in the quarterfinals, Ohio State’s Josh Demas tossed him to his back for a five-point move and a 6-1 win in a second sudden victory period. He’ll meet Iowa’s Derek St. John, a semifinal upset loser, in the consolation semifinals.

Heavyweight Jimmy Lawson started the night with a dominating 13-5 major decision over Nebraska’s Spencer Johnson. He then fell to Indiana’s Adam Chalfant, 8-4. That knocked him into a seventh-place bout against

He started with a convincing 9-1 major decision of Ohio State’s Kosta Karageorge, 9-1. Then, in the quarterfinals, he dropped a 6-4 decision to Northwestern No. 2 seed Mike McMullan.

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