Over the last month, Andrew and Dylan Alton cruised to undefeated records in sparkling fashion over lesser opponents in open tournaments.
They returned to competition against top-flight foes in No. 1 Penn State’s 33-9 win over No. 13 Nebraska on Sunday with mixed results.
Dylan used a late takedown to defeat Nebraska’s No. 4-ranked James Green at 157 pounds, immediately avenging his brother’s loss by fall to No. 12 Jake Sueflohn at 149.
“Dylan, he knew he had a big match and he did a great job,” Nittany Lions coach Cael Sanderson said. “His conditioning was something that he used to his advantage and that was something he’s worked on and he’s getting better at it.”
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Going unbeaten with two championships at the Franklin and Marshall and “Shorty” Hitchcock tournaments during the time they were suspended after violating team rules in December helped both Altons stay fresh. But most of those wins came against opponents who aren’t as experienced or as talented, evidenced by the utter domination the Altons displayed racking up a combined 10 pins, two technical falls and three major decisions in 18 bouts.
On Sunday, both had to work a little harder.
Andrew Altom came out on fire with a quick takedown and two nearfall points against Sueflohn but gave up a second-period takedown and a stalling point before getting caught on his back and pinned 5:33 into the match. It was Andrew Alton’s first loss of the season.
“Obviously Andrew wasn’t himself. Why that is, we’ll figure that out,” Sanderson said. “A lot of it’s just making the decision that you’re ready and deciding to be focused and a lot of it’s a mental game obviously. I think he just needs some time to get back to where he wants to be and he can do that in a snap of the fingers or maybe it might take a few matches.”
Dylan Alton followed with a tough battle against Green, who tied their bout at 1-1 with an escape in the third period. With less than 20 seconds remaining, Green shot in at Alton, who sidestepped and slid around Green for a winning takedown and a 3-1 decision.
“He shot and I reshot and I got my angle that I wanted,” Dylan Alton said. “I’ve just been training the last month and working to my goal to be a national champion.”
No. 2 David Taylor continued his quest for a second consecutive national title with a 16-1 technical fall over Tyler Keohn at 165 pounds. Taylor racked up his points quickly, notching a takedown and five nearfall points in the first period. He’d add six more nearfall points, an escape and another takedown to cruise to the easy win.
No.1 Ed Ruth gave up an early takedown to No. 8 Josh Ihnen at 184 and then went to work. Save for an escape, Ihnen wouldn’t score again and Ruth posted three takedowns, two escapes and tilts for seven nearfall points for an 18-3 technical fall.
“Usually if I give up the first takedown, usually it’s my fault, I made a mistake,” Ruth said. “I just don’t like giving up little points like that. It kind of gets to me. You just kind of come at the guy harder. It’s kind of an ego thing.”
Nebraska (9-4, 3-3 Big Ten) got some pride points in a back-and-forth match between No. 3 Matt Brown and No. 4 Robert Kokesh at 174.
After a scoreless first period, action heated up in the second when Brown escaped and hit a takedown to take a 3-0 lead. But Kokesh wriggled out and got a takedown of his own. He turned Brown to his back and got two nearfall points, but the period ended with Brown on his back fighting off the pin.
In the third, Kokesh’s reversal and takedown gave him a 9-4 lead, but Brown got away and took Kokesh down. He locked Kokesh in a cradle and flipped him to his shoulders but again the period ended and Kokesh escaped with a 10-7 win.
No. 3 Quentin Wright and No. 17 Jon Gingrich added wins at 197 and 285 pounds, respectively, for Penn State. Wright majored Caleb Kolb 10-2 and Gingrich beat Spencer Johnson 7-4.
Nebraska forfeited the 125-pound bout to No. 2 Nico Megaludis before Jordan Conaway and Bryan Pearsall got Penn State started with wins at 133 and 141, respectively. Conaway majored Shawn Nagel 14-5 while Pearsall beat No. 19 Ridge Kiley 2-0.
Notes: The Altons earned their spots back with wrestle-off matches against James English and James Vollrath at 149 and 157 pounds, respectively. Both of those bouts were decided by single takedowns. ... Penn State wore its white singlets for the White Out crowd. … The Nittany Lions won the takedown battle 19-5. … Sanderson was denied on a replay review call for the second time in three duals. … Dylan Alton won the Ridge Riley Award given to the Most Outstanding Wrestler in a home dual. … The attendance of 6,618 was the highest of the season for Penn State. ... Scott Syrek, Michael Waters and David Owens competed in the Messiah Open on Saturday. Syrek won the 197-pound title, going 4-0. Waters finished second at 141 while Owens finished fifth at 149.