Lions Steamroll Northwestern at Rec Hall

Penn State won eight of 10 matches en route to blasting the visiting Wildcats. But the Alton brothers were wrestling somewhere else Sunday.

The last time Penn State left Rec Hall, it was clear that despite victory, the Lions weren't happy with their effort. Sunday, the story was different.

No. 1 Penn State toppled Northwestern 39-8 in front of 6,393 and new Penn State football coach James Franklin, winning eight of 10 bouts and securing two falls in the process.

Men of the Match: With Andrew and Dylan Alton both spending the weekend at the Shorty Hitchcock Memorial in Lancaster, Pa. (more on that later), Zack Beitz and James Vollrath were asked to fill in. Both did so with fine form.

Beitz, wrestling in place of Andrew Alton at 149 pounds, gave everything he had in a 5-3 sudden victory defeat against Northwestern's No. 4 Jason Tsirtsis. Vollrath decked the Wildcats' Ben Sullivan in 4:01 after taking a commanding 8-0 lead into the second period at 157 pounds..

"I think Beitz is very consistent, so that makes our jobs a lot easier because you can focus on the technique and other areas you work on in coaching," Penn State coach Cael Sanderson said. "He's continuing to make progress. I thought going into OT he could get him, but you have to give that kid a lot of credit."

Fall of the Match: That nod goes to Vollrath, who powered to a big first-period advantage with a pair of three-point tilts after an initial takedown. The pin came just over a minute into the second with a nifty two-on-one tilt that Sullivan couldn't escape.

If you're looking for a close second, 184-pounder Ed Ruth went back to the well with a far-side cradle to lock up and pin Jacob Berkowitz at the 1:36 mark of the first. The senior led 4-0, one of eight Lion grapplers who scored the first takedown of the match.

Sanderson was pleased to see an aggressive streak, something that fuels his belief that his program is where it needs to be heading down the stretch.

"When we hit the Big Ten schedule, we know the end is near and we want to get sharp and use each match to make sure we are moving toward our goals and competing with the right mentality," Sanderson said. "These matches are all important, and every match matters."

Lawson Limps Off: Jimmy Lawson has shown plenty to indicate he's the man at heavyweight during his time as starter. The second-year Lion grappler earned the spot last summer, giving State much needed continuity after a season of flux a year ago.

That consistency could be put on hold, though, as the junior injury defaulted to Northwestern's Mike McMullan 2:44 into the bout Sunday. Lawson had been in the process of fending off a McMullan shot when he was forced to give in and went to his back. It was then the junior grabbed his right knee and called for injury time.

Moments after the match, Sanderson did not have a definitive update on his heavyweight, but did say Lawson was being evaluated by the training staff.

"He was able to walk off, which was a good sign," Sanderson said. "I think he was getting up thinking he was going to wrestle, but that really wasn't part of the plan."

Altons Update: As of Sunday night, Dylan Alton was still wrestling, and Andrew Alton was not. That's not a reason for concern.

Both brothers were strong in open action Sunday in Lancaster, Pa. Dylan Alton cruised to the 157-pound title by going 5-0, while Andrew Alton withdrew with a medical forfeit, per Penn State wrestling sports information director Pat Donghia, after racking up a pin and two technical falls.

The Altons competed in the open tourney so they could get more action than they would have in a dual. Both sat out the fall semester while recovering from injuries.

"We have to figure that out here fairly soon," Sanderson said when asked about the starters going forward at 149 pounds and 157 pounds. "We just want [the Altons] to get more matches so they're pushing themselves in all areas. It was an open tournament and we had a chance to get both guys matches, so that's what we wanted to do."


• Sanderson was asked about a clock malfunction during Beitz's match that may have led to Tsirtsis being erroneously awarded a riding time point that sent the match to sudden victory. The coach said he didn't catch the error, if one existed, but admitted it was discussed among the staff at halftime.

• Franklin received a standing ovation at halftime before firing a T-shirt into the upper rows of Rec Hall.

• Northwestern lost a team point during the 197-pound match, won by Penn State's Morgan McIntosh 17-8, after the Wildcats' bench was hit with a second warning.

• The Lions improved to 10-0 on the season and 4-0 in the Big Ten. They return to the mat Friday when Illinois invades Rec Hall for a 7 p.m. dual.

Boxscore courtesy of Penn State Athletics:

#1 Penn State 39, #14 Northwestern 8

January 19, 2014 – Rec Hall – University Park, Pa.

125: #2 Nico Megaludis PSU tech fall Garrison White NU, 23-6 (TF; 6:39) 5-0

133: #15 Jimmy Gulibon PSU dec. Dominick Malone NU, 8-2 8-0

141: #2 Zain Retherford PSU maj. dec. Pat Greco NU, 11-2 12-0

149: #4 Jason Tsirtsis NU dec. (SV) Zack Beitz PSU, 5-3 (sv) 12-3

157: James Vollrath PSU pinned Ben Sullivan NU, WBF (4:01) 18-3

165: #1 David Taylor PSU tech fall #9 Pierce Harger NU, 17-2 (4:45) 23-3

174: #3 Matt Brown PSU inj. def. #9 Lee Munster NU, (leading 10-1 at 3:56) 29-3

184: #2 Ed Ruth PSU pinned Jacob Berkowitz NU, WBF (1:36) 35-3

197: #7 Morgan McIntosh PSU maj. dec. #17 Alex Polizzi NU, 17-8 39-2*

285: #4 Mike McMullan NU inj. def. #12 Jimmy Lawson PSU, (trailing 4-0 at 2:44) 39-8

* Northwestern deducted team point during 197-bout, second bench warning

Attendance: 6,393 (16th-straight home sell out)

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