State's Big Ten Domination Continues

Stars Taylor and Ruth both play major roles as the Nittany Lions make it four conference titles in a row. PSU advances wrestlers to NCAAs at all 10 weights.

At the Big Ten wrestling championships at Wisconsin Sunday, Penn State's heavy hitters delivered when it mattered most. Cael Sanderson's Nittany Lions got major decisions from David Taylor and Ed Ruth in the finals on the way to capturing the team's fourth straight conference crown.

The respective individual titles were the fourth in a row for Taylor (165) and Ruth (184).

Penn State finished with 140.5 team points to outdistance second-place Iowa (135) and third-place Minnesota (118.5). PSU qualified wrestlers for NCAAs at all 10 weights.

“We're very excited,” Sanderson told BTN. “I think it was a team effort. We got 10 guys through to the national tournament, so we're happy.”

But it is fair to say two of the guys were especially key to the title.

“Taylor and Ruth both came through,” Sanderson said.

The Lions went into the final session with a slim 128.5-128 edge over the Hawkeyes. Here is how things played out for PSU in the championship round:

At 125, the Lions had a chance to add to their advantage when top-seeded Nico Megaludis took on No. 2 seed and rival Jesse Delgado of Illinois. Megaludis pressed the action throughout, but Delgado scrambled to fend off shot after shot.

Tied 1-1 at the end of regulation, the match went through two sudden victory and ride-out sessions -- with Megaludis continuing to be the aggressor. But Delgado was not slapped with a stall warning until the end of the second set of ride-outs, and with the score still tied at that point the Illini standout was awarded the victory based on more overall riding time.

At 141, No. 1 seed and unbeaten Zain Retherford took on No. 2 seed and two-time national champ Logan Stieber of Ohio State. Retherford, a true freshmen, handed Stieber his only loss of the season in a dual at Rec Hall during the regular season.

But it was a different story this time around. Stieber built an early lead and plenty of riding time with takedowns in the first and second periods, and piled up back points early in the third.

A reversal brought Retherford within 6-3 in the final minute, but he was only able to ride out Stieber -- attempts at tilts for back points proved futile -- and Retherford lost for the first time as a collegian.

At 165, the No. 1 seed and undefeated Taylor became a four-time Big Ten champ and remained unbeaten for his career against conference opponents by dominating No. 2 Nick Moore of Iowa.

The 14-5 major decision was important because it gave the Lions a bonus point. Also, after Iowa had taken the team lead earlier in the championship round, Taylor's win put PSU back in front (134.5-133) for good.

Taylor registered an early takedown and back points, and was never threatened from there. He did give up a takedown while trying to force the action in the second period, but quickly escaped. He rode out Moore in the final period for the victory.

At 184, the No. 1 seed and unbeaten Ruth had a chance to seal the title when he took on No. 3 seed Ethen Lofthouse of Iowa. He did just that, using a pair of first-period takedowns to set a positive early tone in what would become a 10-2 major.

Like Taylor, Ruth became a four-time Big Ten champion and remained unbeaten vs. conference opponents for his career.

Ruth's victory gave the Lions an insurmountable 140.5-133 lead in the team standings.

At 197, No. 1 seed Morgan McIntosh used a second-period reversal to take a 2-0 lead on No. 2 seed Nick Heflin of Ohio State. But a pair of Heflin escapes -- the second at the start of the third period -- knotted it a 2-2. It remained that way through the end of regulation.

Heflin came through with a takedown just before the end of the second sudden victory period for the 5-3 win.

Sunday afternoon also saw Lions in action in third- and fifth-place bouts:

At 174, No. 2 seed Matt Brown bounced back from a semifinal loss to Iowa's Mike Evans to work his way back into the third-place match. There, he found himself in yet another tight battle with No. 4 seed Logan Storley of Minnesota.

After a scoreless first period, Brown rode Storley for 1:18 before the Gopher escaped for a 1-0 lead. The second period ended with no more scoring and Brown took down to start the third. He escaped in seven seconds to tie it 1-1. The point he gained form the 1:11 of riding time proved to be the difference in a 2-1 victory. And the team point he earned for the win proved to be the championship winner for the Lions.

At 149, fifth-year senior James English got the post-season nod over struggling Andrew Alton, and made the most of the opportunity. Wrestling in his first Big Ten tourney, he finished fifth, with a one-point win over Wisconsin's Rylan Lubeck closing out his tournament.

At heavyweight, No. 8 seed Jon Gingrich stunned No. 1 seed Adam Coon of Michigan by a 12-3 major in the quarters. But he then sustained back-to-back pins to fall into the fifth-place bout. There, Gingrich took on No. 3 seed Michael McMullan, falling 8-2 to finish sixth.

Earlier in the day, two Lion grapplers completed their tournament action.

At 133, Jimmy Guilbon worked his way back through the consolation bracket and earned a major over Northwestern's Dominick Malone to take seventh place.

At 157, fifth-seeded Dylan Alton fell all the way into the seventh-place match. There, he was majored (13-4) by Illinois' Zach Brunson, who he had beaten during the regular season.

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