UNIVERSITY PARK — When the NCAA Wrestling Championships begin next week, Penn State will chase its third consecutive team title with eight of its 10 qualifiers seeded in Des Moines, Iowa.
Undefeated Ed Ruth (28-0) received the top seed at 184 pounds and will face Lock Haven’s Fred Garcia in the opening round. Ruth will be looking for his 64th consecutive win. The junior from Harrisburg, Pa. has not lost a bout since March 18, 2011 and will look to extend his dominance over Garcia as Ruth beat him via technical fall in December.
The Nittany Lions, ranked No. 1 in InterMat’s Tournament Power Index, will also send three No. 2 seeds into action inside the Wells Fargo Center.
Senior Quentin Wright, junior David Taylor and sophomore Matt Brown garnered No. 2 seeds at 197, 165 and 174 pounds respectively after each won individual Big Ten Championships last weekend.
Wright, undefeated and wrestling in his third weight class in three years after winning the 174-pound title as a sophomore and finishing second at 184 last season, will face Rider’s Donald McNeil (21-15) in his opening round bout at 197. Wright beat McNeil via major decision, 12-4 in the penultimate dual meet of the season. Brown (25-4) will wrestle Missouri’s Todd Porter (31-10) in the first round.
Wrestling fans will potentially have to wait for the final bout of the 2012-13 college wrestling season to see the most highly anticipated championship match of this era. The NCAA announced on Wednesday the 165-pound title match which could potentiall pit No. 1-seeded Kyle Dake of Cornell against No. 2-seeded Taylor in a rematch of the Southern Scuffle finals. Dake will be going for his fourth NCAA title, all have come in different weight classes. Taylor is the defending 165-pound champion and Hodge Trophy winner. The two rivals have combined to go 57-1 this season, the only loss coming when Dake beat Taylor 3-2 in January.
Sophomore Nico Megaludis, who lost to Iowa’s Matt McDonough in the finals last season, will be the No. 4 seed at 125 pounds. Megaludis is on the same side of the bracket with top-seeded Alan Waters of Missouri. Megaludis (24-3) will meet Ohio’s Kevon Powell (8-13) in the opening round.
Sophomore Dylan Alton will enter as the eighth seed at 157 pounds, where he finished third last season. Alton (24-6) will face Jake O’Hara (18-5) of Columbia in a preliminary bout with the winner facing Pittsburgh’s Donnie Tasser (26-13) in the first round. Alton’s twin brother Andrew who redshirted last season after advancing to the Round of 12 as a freshman 141-pounder, will make his return to the NCAA tournament as the No. 11 seed at 149. Alton (26-4) will face Missouri’s Drake Houdashelt (28-9) in the opening round.
Making his NCAA tournament debut, redshirt freshman Jordan Conaway will be the No. 12 seed at 133 pounds. Conaway (16-8) will face Rutgers’ Vincent Dellafave (26-8) in the first round. Conaway beat Dellafave 6-1 in the last dual meet of the season.
Senior Bryan Pearsall and sophomore Jimmy Lawson will both make their tournament debuts as unseeded grapplers. Pearsall (23-9) will face the winner of a preliminary bout between Army’s Connor Hanafee (21-13) and UNI’s Joey Lazor (32-7) at 141 pounds. Lawson (21-7) will meet Ohio’s Jeremy Johnson (32-9) in the opening round at heavyweight.
Penn State commits to take part
in Dapper Dan Classic
After wrapping up their high school careers with PIAA Class AA individual championships, Penn State prospects Zain Retherford (Benton) and Cody Law (Forest Hills) will participate in the main event of Sunday’s Dapper Dan Classic.
Both will wrestle for the Pennsylvania All-Stars against the USA All-Stars in the XXXIX Classic.
Retherford, who capped his final season with an emotional win over former Line Mountain teammate Seth Lansberry in the 138-pound final, was selected to face New Jersey standout Anthony Ashnault at the University of Pittsburgh’s Fitzgerald Field House. Ashnault is a four-time New Jersey state champion and has committed to Rutgers.
Law, who beat Kane’s Evan Delong for the Class AA 160-pound title, will face LeMoore, Calif.’s Isaiah Martinez at 160 pounds.
Also competing will be Kiski Area’s Matt McCutcheon who will wrestle Matoaca’s (Va.) Corbin Ramos at 195 on the preliminary card. McCutcheon is also a Penn State commit and recently finished as the runner-up at 195 pounds in the PIAA Class AAA tournament.