Before the NCAA championships began Thursday, the consensus was that the team title would be crowned in wrestlebacks.
By late Friday night, it was clear that consolation action would indeed by the key.
After two days in Oklahoma City, Penn State has landed two wrestlers — 165-pounder David Taylor and 184-pounder Ed Ruth — in Saturday night's finals. It also holds a slim team lead, as head coach Cael Sanderson's Lions have 91 team points to edge out Minnesota, which has 90.5. Oklahoma State, with 87.5, round out the top three.
This could go down to the wire. There is speculation that the NCAA could make Taylor's match the final match of the night Saturday.
"I think there is definitely an honor to be the last match," Taylor told reporters in Oklahoma City when asked about the possibility. "It was pretty cool last year. If they decide to do that, that'd be great. I know it will be a good match."
If Penn State hopes to earn its fourth-straight NCAA crown, though, it will need to do well in Saturday morning's medal round. It is there that Nico Megaludis (125 pounds) will open with Iowa's Cory Clark for the right to wrestle for third place and Zain Retherford (141 pound) will face the same plight in a battle with Edinboro's No. 1 Mitchell Port. At 174 pounds, Matt Brown also has a match to earn a spot in the third-place bout. He opens with Minnesota's Logan Storley.
From there, Penn State has consolation wrestlers at 149 pounds, where James English will wrestle Oklahoma's Kendric Maple for seventh, as well as at 197 pounds, where Morgan McIntosh will square off with Iowa's Nathan Burak for seventh place.
The Lions have been eliminated from the tournament at 133 (Jimmy Gulibon), 157 (Dylan Alton), and heavyweight (Jon Gingrich).
Consolation action begins at 11 a.m. ET on ESPNU. ESPN will televise the finals, which begin at 8 p.m.