Penn State has won the past three Big Ten wrestling championships, and after a productive first day at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wisc., it sits in fine shape to make it four.
Aided by an upset at heavyweight and five finalists set to wrestle for a Big Ten crown Sunday afternoon, Penn State ended the first day of the conference championship with 122 team points, good for a one point lead over Iowa, who checked in with 121.
The Lions will send Nico Megaludis (125 pounds), Zain Retherford (141), David Taylor (165), Ed Ruth (184), and Morgan McIntosh (197) to the finals, while five others, Jimmy Gulibon (133) James English (149, Dylan Alton (157), Matt Brown (174), and Jon Gingrich (285) are all alive in consolation bracket action. All 10 have also qualified for the NCAA championship tournament, which is slated for March 20-22 in Oklahoma City.
Minnesota held the team lead at the end of Saturday's first session, but thanks to Gingrich taking down the tournament's top heavyweight seed, Adam Coon of Michigan 3-1 in sudden victory, the Lions racked up seven other wins to sit just seven points back.
It didn't take long for the Lions to overtake the Gophers in the second session, as Megaludis opened the evening's championship round with a 4-3 decision over Wisconsin freshman Ryan Taylor to earn his first trip to the finals. Before that, English clinched his ticket to Oklahoma City with a 5-2 consolation round decision over Ohio State's Ian Paddock at 149, while both Alton and Gingrich suffered consolation losses and will wrestle for seventh place Sunday.
In what has become a staple of tournament wrestling since Sanderson arrived, bonus points were garnered by State in the semi-finals. Retherford and McIntosh joined Megaludis in earning their finals spot by decision, but Taylor decked Illinois' Jackson Morse in 40 seconds before Ruth earned a 9-1 major decision over Michigan's Domenic Abounader.
Wrestling resumes with consolation bracket wrestling Sunday morning before the finals air live on the Big Ten Network at 2 p.m. ET.
End of Day One Team Standings
1: Penn State, 122.0
2: Iowa, 121.0
3: Minnesota, 86.0
4: Ohio State,73.5
5: Illinois, 69.5
6: Nebraska, 68.0
7: Wisconsin, 58.0
8: Michigan, 49.5
9: Northwestern, 44.0
10: Indiana, 34.0
11: Purdue, 30.0
12: Michigan State, 15.0
125 pounds: Nico Megaludis vs. Jesse Delgado (Ill.), Finals
133 pounds: Jimmy Gulibon vs. Dominick Malone (NW), 7th place match
141 pounds: Zain Retherford vs. Logan Stieber (OSU), Finals
149 pounds: James English vs. Eric Grajales (Mich.), Consolation semi-final
157 pounds: Dylan Alton vs. Zach Brunson (Ill.), 7th place match
165 pounds David Taylor vs. Nick Moore (Iowa), Finals
174 pounds: Matt Brown vs. Tony Dallago (Ill.), Consolation semi-final
184 pounds: Ed Ruth vs. Ethen Lofthouse (Iowa), Finals
197 pounds: Morgan McIntosh vs. Nick Heflin (Ohio State), Finals
Heavyweight: Jon Gingrich vs. Mike McClure (MSU), consolation semi-finals