Saturday Night's All "Wright" for Fightin'

Penn State 184-pounder wins an individual crown to cap the Nittany Lions' amazing run at NCAAs in Philadelphia.

Penn State entered the NCAA wrestling finals at Wells Fargo Arena in Philadelphia with its first team title since 1953 already clinched. The Nittany Lions had 103.5 points and an insurmountable lead over second-place Cornell (89.5) and third-place Iowa (86.5).

But Saturday night was still all right for fighting for Cael Sanderson's squad, with three Penn State wrestlers having qualified for championship bouts.

Or maybe that should be Saturday night was all “Wright” for fighting, as 184-pound sophomore Quentin Wright stunned the wrestling world by earning a national championship.

Hampered by a shoulder injury for most of the regular season, Wright entered NCAAs as the No. 9 seed despite winning a Big Ten title. He blew through the national tournament, gaining the championship by dominating Lehigh's second-seeded Robert Hamlin 5-2.

Wright, who entered the final match with a 20-6 record, never allowed the much shorter Hamlin to get anything going. They settled for a scoreless opening period before the action picked up.

Wright chose down to start the second period and quickly escaped and then caught Hamlin at the edge of the mat for a takedown and a 3-0 lead. Hamlin escaped, and Wright got in deep on a double-leg shot. He converted for a 5-1 lead.

Hamlin took down to start the third period and got out after a few seconds. Wright led 5-2, and used his long frame to ward off Hamlin the rest of the way. Wright was comfortable enough to press the action when needed to prevent any stall calls.

The easy win avenged a 4-3 loss to Hamlin in November. Hamlin finished the year at 32-3.

Unfortunately, Wright's title was the only individual highlight of the championship session.

At 141 pounds, PSU junior Frank Molinaro gave up an early takedown to Cornell's Kyle Dake. Molinaro never recovered. Dake rode him out for the rest of the first period.

Then, against the wishes of the PSU coaches, Molinaro took down to start the second period. Dake rode him for the entire period. Dake took down to start the third, scored an immediate reversal and rode out for the 8-1 victory.

Molinaro's only point came in the first period, when Dake was penalized for a dangerous hold. Dake finished with 6:17 of riding time.

The second-seeded Molinaro finished his season at 32-3. Dake, a fourth seed, went 31-2.

At 157 pounds, Lion rookie David Taylor entered the action with a 38-0 record. In the final, he faced former Penn Stater Bubba Jenkins, who is now at Arizona State.

After a scoreless first period, one where Taylor appeared to be trying to force the action, Taylor took down to start the second. He quickly escaped.

Taylor went in for a single-leg but Jenkins fended it off. The wrestlers fell to the mat and while fighting for position, Jenkins caught Taylor in a cradle and tilted him toward his back. Jenkins adjusted and earned the fall.

Earlier in the day, Andrew Long (133 pounds) and Ed Ruth (174) wrestled their way back through the consolation bracket to capture third place and All-America honors at their respective weights.

Penn State finished with 107 team points to easily win the overall title. Cornell was second with 93.5 and Iowa a distant third with 86.5.


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