Shortly after the Penn State wrestling team lifted its third-straight NCAA championship banner to the rafters at Rec Hall, the Nittany Lions went back to work.
No. 1 Penn State (3-0, 0-0) won eight of 10 bouts against Lock Haven, and got bonus points in five of those matches, to pull away from the Bald Eagles 34-6 on Sunday.
While the results were the same — Penn State won its 12th straight dual against Lock Haven — something was different for senior David Taylor’s bout. The three-time All-American had to wait for a few minutes to make his final home debut. As the intermission ended at the dual’s halfway point, Taylor paced the mat in darkness. His opponent was nowhere to be found.
“It was a little weird. I don’t know. The break was up and they weren’t ready to wrestle I guess,” Taylor said. “So they were hanging out in the locker room a little longer. But I’ve said it millions of times. There’s something about Rec Hall. It doesn’t matter what it is, whether you’re standing there, sitting there watching a match on the mat, there’s just something special about this place when you’re out there.”
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Taylor continued his run of perfection inside the sold-out venue once Lock Haven’s Jake Kemerer emerged. Kemerer, a former Nittany Lion who transferred out of Penn State following the 2010 season, was ready to go following the delay, however.
After Taylor earned the first two takedowns on his former roommate, Kemerer recovered and shot in on Taylor, nearly turning the former NCAA champion on his back. But Taylor slid away and turned the scramble into another takedown. He finished the match with five takedowns after locking an armbar and pinning Kemerer in 6:09.
“He’s very explosive on his shots,” Taylor said. “So I kind of expected him to come out and shoot a few times. It was nice to have a guy come out and try to score.”
For most of the afternoon, that was the approach of Penn State wrestlers.
The Nittany Lions notched 41 takedowns to Lock Haven’s four. Juniors Nico Megaludis and Matt Brown contributed heavily in the offensive outburst, as they showed off the arsenals that got them into NCAA championships matches at 125 and 174 pounds last season.
Megaludis started the dual with a 21-6 technical fall against Ronnie Perry. Megaludis scored eight takedowns and worked a second-period tilt for three points. Brown faced Adam Mackie and worked in five takedowns — three of them and a tilt in the first period.
Morgan McIntosh, Jimmy Lawson and James Vollrath added bonus points for Penn State.
McIntosh controlled the pace agaisnt Phil Sprenkle at 197, and earned a 15-3 major with a seven-point third period. Lawson closed the dual with a 14-4 major over Brad Emerick. Vollrath handled Billy Randt with five takedowns in a 12-4 major at 157 pounds.
Vollrath was among three wrestlers filling in. Andrew and Dylan Alton are out of the lineup recovering from offseason shoulder surgeries, and Ed Ruth is suspended until Dec. 12 for violating team rules.
The Altons are expected to return in December or January, Sanderson said. Sanderson did not rule out their possible return for the Southern Scuffle on Jan. 1.
“I’m sure they’re planning on wrestling at the Scuffle,” Sanderson said. “But we’ll make that decision when we get a little closer.”
Zack Beitz stepped in for Andrew Alton at 149, while Phipps took Ruth’s spot at 184. Both freshmen lost their dual meet debuts inside Rec Hall.
Lock Haven’s Mac Maldarelli fought off Beitz late to hang onto an 8-7 win before Phipps lost to Fred Garcia 3-1. Phipps was cleared last week to return from a broken hand.
Jordan Conaway and Zain Retherford added decision wins at 133 and 141. Conaway overpowered Matt Bryer with three takedowns, a reversal and 2:41 in riding time to earn a 10-5 win. Retherford followed with a 6-1 win over Dan Neff.