Fans were on their feet before No. 1 Kyle Dake and No. 2 David Taylor even stepped on the mat.
They remained standing for the 165-pound bout’s duration.
In the end, Dake, a senior for Cornell, got the better of Penn State junior Taylor 2-1 at the NWCA All-Star Classic on Saturday at American University’s Bender Arena.
But just barely.
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Dake, who beat Taylor in freestyle competition at the Olympic Team Wrestling Trials this summer, got on the board first with an escape to begin the second period. Taylor chose down to start the third and tied the bout with an escape of his own.
Late in the third period, Taylor neutralized a Dake shot and nearly worked for a counter takedown but time expired to send the bout into sudden victory. With 15 seconds to wrestle, Dake was able to fend off a shot from Taylor and the bout remained tied 1-1. In the first tiebreaker, Dake rode Taylor out to guarantee another tiebreaker period where Dake worked to his feet and out from under Taylor for the go-ahead point.
Taylor was left with a few seconds to set up another shot and couldn’t do so and the exhibition win went to Dake, 2-1.
“They were kind of feeling each other out a little bit,” Penn State coach Cael Sanderson said on the Penn State Radio Network. “I think they’re going to hit heads again a couple of more times and obviously in the end for a national championship. I’m already looking forward to round two. That was fun.”
Penn State sophomore Nico Megaludis started the evening with a come-from-behind win over No. 3 Jesse Delgado of Illinois.
Megaludis, the second-ranked wrestler at 125 pounds, used two escapes to tie the bout midway through the second period. In the third, Megaludis chewed away at Delgado’s big riding time advantage before Delgado escaped at the midway point. But Megaludis gained control of one of Delgado’s legs and snagged the other for a match-sealing takedown with 10 seconds left.
Penn State’s No. 2-ranked 157-pounder Dylan Alton edged Northwestern’s No. 3 Jason Welch 3-2 in a rematch of last season’s third-place bout at the NCAA Tournament. Alton’s takedown with 30 seconds left was enough to give him a 2-1 edge in the head-to-head series with Welch.
Nittany Lion senior Quentin Wright made his debut at 197 pounds in the wildest bout of the night with Pittsburgh’s Matt Wilps.
The bout which pitted No. 2 Wright against No. 3 Wilps for the first time in their careers featured two reversals and five nearfall points in the first period alone. Wright, trailing 11-9 late in the third, tried to throw Wilps but the Pittsburgh senior slipped away and turned Wright to his back for a fall in 6:50.