David Taylor amd Matt Brown had pins and newcomer Zain Retherford got off to a flying start as the top-ranked Penn State wrestling team opened its dual meet season with a 34-8 romp against Rider on Saturday.
The Nittany Lions, who piled up a 25-8 edge in takedowns against the Broncos (2-1), travel to No. 25 Lehigh at 3 p.m. Sunday to close the weekend.
Taylor, the nation’s top-ranked wrestler at 165 pounds, continued his blazing start to the season by pinning 13th-ranked Ramon Santiago. Taylor now has five pins in six matches this season and is just 11 shy of the school career record of 53.
The former NCAA champion grabbed a 6-1 lead after a pair of takedowns and two back points in the opening period. He scored two takedowns against Santiago, who needed an injury timeout, before a sixth takedown led to a pin at the 4:27 mark.
Brown, an NCAA finalist last season, didn’t need that long. The 174-pounder planted Rider’s Conor Brennan just 1:14 into the match to make the score 27-3.
Retherford, who was one of Penn State’s six winners at the Binghamton Open last week, improved to 6-0 on the season. The true freshman had five takedowns, an escape and a point for riding time (2:32) in a 12-3 major decision at 141.
Nico Megaludis, ranked third nationally, opened the match at 125 and scored a 5-0 decision over No. 17 Robert Deutsch. Megaludis rode out Deutsch for the entire third period.
After a scoreless first period, Jordan Conaway turned up the offense and scored a 12-4 major decision at 133.
Following Retherford’s win, Penn State’s James English fell 6-4 as Rider’s Curt Delia scored a takedown in sudden victory. James Vollrath gave the Nittany Lions a 15-3 lead at halftime with a 10-2 major decision over Wayne Stinson at 157.
After pins from Taylor and Brown, Penn State gave up its only bonus points of the afternoon at 184. With two-time NCAA champion Ed Ruth being benched for the weekend for a violation of team rules, James Frascella was overmatched in suffering a technical fall (17-2 in seven minutes) to Clint Morrison.
No. 4 Morgan McIntosh, who is returning from a redshirt season, cruised to an 8-2 win at 197.
Jimmy Lawson closed out the match with a dominating win at 285. Lawson had four takedowns and amassed a whopping 4:16 edge in riding time in the 10-2 major decision.