As the final day of the U.S. Olympic team trials got underway Sunday, Penn State fans caught a glimpse of the past, present and future of the Nittany Lions.
Penn State had past wrestlers in David Taylor, Ed Ruth and Dan Vallimont, Nico Megaludis from the current squad and soon-to-be Nittany Lion Mark Hall competing. Joining them was Nittany Lion Wrestling Club and Olympic gold medalist Jake Varner on the mats inside Iowa University’s Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Varner and Taylor locked up Olympic team spots by finishing in the top 3.
Varner made it the furthest by winning the challenger bracket of the 97kg freestyle weight class. He earned the opportunity to wrestle Ohio State’s Kyle Snyder for the U.S. Olympic team’s spot in a best-of-3 series.
Varner took the first match by criteria in a 4-4 finish. He earned back exposure points for the victory. In the second bout, it was all Snyder with a push-out point, stall point and a takedown in the 4-0 win. In the finale, Snyder continued his dominance with a 6-1 victory.
Taylor made it to the third-place match of the 86kg freestyle class. He led Keith Gavin 6-3 after the first period. Taylor went on to win by a 13-3 technical fall.
He started the day by edging Austin Trotman 4-3. It set up a semifinals matchup with Kyle Dake.
Dake again got the best of Taylor winning 4-3. In the consolation semifinals, Taylor earned a tech fall over Jake Herbert 10-0 in just 53 seconds.
Ruth competed in the 86kg class and opened with a 10-0 technical fall over Deron Winn. Ruth then fell to Gavin 15-8 in the quarterfinals. It was Ruth’s final match as he injury defaulted in his consolation match with Jon Reader.
Megaludis got a tough draw in the 57kg class. He opened the day against Ohio State’s Nathan Tomasello.
Megaludis led 3-0 to open the final period. Tomasello used two push-out points and a late takedown to secure the 4-3 win.
Megaludis fell into the consolation bracket where he faced Cornell’s Nahshon Garrett. It was the last match for Megaludis as he fell 5-4.
Hall opened his 74kg freestyle run with a 13-11 win over Logan Massa, but it was short-lived as Hall lost by a 10-0 technical fall in the next round by Andrew Howe, who won the weight class.
Hall won his first match in the consolation bracket 11-5 over Quinton Godley. He saw his tournament end in the next round with a 14-5 loss to Adam Hall.
Vallimont also competed in the 74kg class. He won his first match 5-0 over Vladyslav Dombrovskiy.
Vallimont fell in the quarterfinals to Nick Marable 3-0 and then dropped his consolation match to Massa 6-2.