Penn State improved to 8-0 on the season and 5-0 in conference Big Ten. Here is what went down in front of a Whiteout (and sellout) crowd of 6,618.
Nebraska forfeited the bouts' opening match at 125 pounds to Nittany Lion grappler Nico Megaludis, and Penn State quickly expanded the early six-point lead, getting victories from Jordan Conaway (133 pounds) and Bryan Pearsall (141 pounds) to race out to a 13-0 advantage.
Conaway built on a 3-2 lead heading into the third period with a dominating final stanza, scoring 10 points on three takedowns, a two-point near fall, and a reversal to major Shawn Nagel, 14-5.
He started opening up a little bit, and I was able to score off his shots, Conaway said of Nagel, who dropped down from 141 for the match. Kids coming down in weight are a little more tired by the start of the third period, and they start taking bad shots, and I try scoring off of them. Then I see opportunities to take my own shots.
Then Pearsall turned in an equally impressive performance against No. 19 Ridge Kiley, fending off the talented Husker to the final horn and earning a 2-0 victory. The Nittany Lion senior opened the third period with a quick escape and parlayed a full second period ride into 1:39 of riding time, earning him the second point.
Andrew and Dylan Alton both returned to the Nittany Lions lineup Saturday at 149 and 157 pounds, respectively, following disciplinary suspensions. They had mixed results.
Leading 5-4 after two periods, Andrew Alton, down to start the third period, was quickly reversed by Wisconsin's 12th-ranked Jake Sueflohn, giving the Husker a 6-5 lead. In the ensuing scramble, Alton attempted to roll through, but Sueflohn caught him with a headlock and turned Alton's shoulders to the mat for a fall at the 5:33 mark. It represented the first time Penn State has given up bonus points in a bout all season.
Andrew wasn't himself, and why that is we'll have to figure it out, Sanderson said. A lot of it is making a decision that you are ready and focused; it's a mental game. He can get back to where he wants to be in the snap of his fingers (or) it might take a few matches. He's in good shape, and trains hard. It's just a matter of making that decision. He wasn't all there tonight.
Brother Dylan, meanwhile, turned in a workmanlike 3-1 decision over No. 4 James Green, scoring a late third period takedown on a low double leg shot to earn the victory. After the match, Dylan Alton was named the Ridge Riley Award winner.
He shot and then I re-shot, and got the angle that I wanted. From there, I just wanted to go behind and get the legs, Dylan Alton said. I've been training for the last month, working toward my goal of being a national champion. I'm excited to be back.
Match of the Night
It wasn't a close bout, but Ed Ruth's 18-3 technical fall victory over Nebraska's No. 8 John Ihnen was an impressive showing from Penn State's 184-pound junior. Ruth combined three takedowns, two three-point tilts, a two-point nearfall, two escapes, a riding time point and a penalty point to reach the margin of victory, three times rocking Ihnen for a tilt from a standing position.
Guys usually stand up, and if I can catch an arm, I'm comfortable sitting behind the legs and waiting for them to fall back, Ruth said. Some guys I can catch the wrist, but some guys are good at guarding against it.
Ruth trailed briefly after giving up the bout's first takedown.
Usually if I give up the first takedown, it's my fault and I made a mistake. I don't like giving up little points like that, Ruth said. After that, I just come at the guy harder. It's kind of an ego thing; our egos are so fragile, like a bubble. If you poke it, it pops, and you want to freak out and see nothing but red.
Penn State called for a whiteout for Sunday's dual, and most of the 6,618 in attendance obliged, including Penn State's wrestlers, who wore white singlets at home for the first time in the Sanderson era.
I like the blue; it's who we are. But after four years of kids begging to wear white singlets, I decided to let them wear it, Sanderson said. I don't like switching singlets -- just me personally -- but it's not all about me. And it's fun for the guys to change it up.
Penn State won the takedown battle 18-5, while outscoring the Huskers 82-32. To be fair to all involved, Sanderson said that the team held wrestle-offs at 149 and 157 pounds to determine whether or not the Alton brothers would wrestle Sunday. Andrew beat James English 3-2 at 149-pounds, while Dylan returned the same result against James Vollrath. ... Sanderson initiated a video review for the second time in as many home duals, this time to check the call on the mat from head official Garry Kissel after it appeared Dylan Alton threw Green to the mat for a two-point takedown and two nearfall points. But Kissel determined his call on the mat -- which awarded no points -- was correct, dropping Sanderson to 0-2 on challenges this season. Sunday's dual represented the second straight home dual that Penn State received a forfeit. Ruth received one two Fridays ago against Wisconsin. Obviously they don't want to forfeit, and neither do we. It's not good to get 6,400, 6,500 people in here and have a forfeit, and it's not good for the sport, Sanderson said. Next Friday's Big Ten dual at Iowa will be aired live on the Big Ten Network starting at 9 p.m. Eastern.