UNIVERSITY PARK — The toughest part of rehab following offseason shoulder surgeries for Andrew and Dylan Alton?
It was having to watch every weekend as their teammates wrestled without them. On Sunday, the wait finally ended.
The Alton brothers returned to the mat in Rec Hall where No. 1 Penn State rolled over Purdue 34-3 in front of 6,369 fans.
“You want to get back there on the mat as soon as possible,” Dylan Alton said. “And watching your friends, this is the last year I’ll be able to wrestle with Ed Ruth and David Taylor on the team so competing with them side by side is a great experience. Other than that we were just patient and now we’re ready to be back on the mat.”
Like usual, Taylor and Ruth were dominant. The Altons were a little rusty but were able to add wins to Penn State’s ledger. The Nittany Lions won nine of 10 bouts, got bonus points from Taylor, Ruth, Nico Megaludis, Zain Retherford and Matt Brown and notched 36 takedowns to Purdue’s two.
Both of the Boilermakers’ takedowns came at 133 pounds where Cashe Quiroga handed redshirt freshman Jimmy Gulibon a 9-2 loss.
Morgan McIntosh and Jimmy Lawson won decisions.
Fans roared when the Altons stepped on the mat. They got quiet when Andrew called for injury time late and flexed his left arm against Brandon Nelsen. Penn State coaches and trainers attended to the junior and Alton was able to continue. He gave up two stalling points but held on for a 7-6 win at 149.
“It felt good, (I was) little nervous, just need to get more mentally prepared,” Andrew Alton said. “I wouldn’t say I was tired because I don’t get tired in practice, it’s just I need to get more of an urgency in the third period to get off bottom and keep scoring points.”
Andrew Alton, who had surgery on his right shoulder shortly after last season’s NCAA tournament, said his left arm got “cranked a little bit” but said he was fine save for a bit of soreness.
Dylan Alton followed his twin brother with a 6-1 defeat of Dustin Schultz at 157 pounds. The Nittany Lion junior turned in takedowns in the first and second period and earned the extra point with 2:37 of riding time for a 6-1 win.
“It was good to see the Altons back in there and that’s part of the process for them,” Penn State coach Cael Sanderson said. “As you can see, they’re not 100 percent (conditioning-wise) yet. We knew that but we’ve got to get them out there and see what they can do because we’re running out of time.”
While the Altons weren’t as dominant as they have been in the past, Sanderson overall wasn’t happy with the entirety of his lineup.
“Our guys that are real consistent were real consistent,” Sanderson said. “We saw some lows, obviously in a few weight classes. That’s kind of frustrating but we don’t always judge our performance based on the score. It’s more on performance. I’m not too happy with the way we competed today.”
After Megaludis opened with a 15-4 win over Camden Eppert at 125 pounds, Quiroga beat Gulibon without much resistance. It was Gulibon’s fifth-straight dual loss and he has yet to win a dual-meet bout for Penn State.
Retherford got off to a slow start but turned up the pace in the third with two takedowns to post a 10-2 win over Danny Sabatello at 141 pounds
Taylor dominated Chad Welch, rolling with three takedowns before running a half-nelson over for a fall at 2:23. Brown followed at 174 against Patrick Kissel. The Purdue grappler was able to slow the pace before Brown used three takedowns in the third to post a 14-4 major decision win.
Ruth got back in the win column with a 13-3 win over Tanner Lynde. Most of Ruth’s offense came early, however and tailed off late. Ruth’s three first-period takedowns were tied with Megaludis and Taylor for the team lead.
The only battle between ranked wrestlers occurred at 197 where No. 8 Morgan McIntosh took on No. 16 Braden Atwood.
McIntosh, wrestling with his right elbow taped up, built a 6-3 lead heading into the third period but had to hang on from there as Atwood came alive on top. Atwood worked for a tilt the entire period but couldn’t force a bellied-out McIntosh over. Atwood earned the riding time point but fell, 6-4.
“There were some good things I can take away from the match,” McIntosh said. “I’ve been working on penetrating and getting in deep on guys’ legs. I was able to do that a few times that match but obviously, that third period was not ideal at all. There are some things I need to work on, getting out of the bottom. It’s just an attitude really and I guess I couldn’t figure it out this match.”
Lawson closed out the dual with an 8-1 win over Alex White.
Notes: David Taylor won the Ridge Riley Award given to the most outstanding wrestler in a home dual. ... Penn State football coach James Franklin addressed the crowd during intermission. ... Former NCAA champions and four-time All-American Frank Molinaro was in attendance. ... Gulibon has surrendered a team-high 15 dual-meet points.