CHATTANOOGA, TN - The Penn State Nittany Lion wrestling team, ranked No. 1 in the latest Intermat Tournament Power Index, roared to the 2014 Southern Scuffle title, its fourth straight. Head coach Cael Sanderson's team crowned two champions and used a balanced team effort to move away from both Minnesota and Oklahoma State on day two.
Penn State won the title with 189.0 points while Oklahoma State was second with 164.5 and Minnesota third at 161.0. The Lions used a balanced team effort, with 11 of its 17 competitors placing at the event.
Day two began at 9 a.m. with the quarterfinals and fourth round of consolations. The Nittany Lions went 7-5 in the quarters. Junior Nico Megaludis (Murrysville, Pa.), ranked No. 2 at 125, opened up Penn State's run of 12 quarterfinalists with 12-4 major over No. 12 Evan Silver of Stanford. Red-shirt freshman Jimmy Gulibon (Latrobe, Pa.), ranked No. 17 at 133, posted his most impressive win to date, notching a hard-fought 2-1 win over No. 5 Ryan Mango of Stanford to move into the semis. Teammate Jordan Conaway (Abbottstown, Pa.) dropped a tough 7-6 dec. to No. 11 Joe Roth of Central Michigan in his quarterfinal bout at 133.
True freshman Zain Retherford (Benton, Pa.), ranked No. 2 at 141, posted a 2-0 win over No. 11 Zach Horan of Central Michigan to move into the semifinals while red-shirt freshman Zack Beitz (Mifflintown, Pa.) lost a close 3-1 dec. to No. 8 Chris Villalonga of Cornell. All-American David Taylor (St. Paris, Ohio) put on a takedown clinic in the third period to roll to a 17-6 major over No. 15 Dylan Palacio of Cornell. All-American Matt Brown (West Valley City, Utah), ranked No. 3 at 174, pinned Oregon State at the 4:25 mark, shortly after fellow All-American Ed Ruth (Harrisburg, Pa.), ranked No. 1 at 184, pinned No. 15 Sam Wheeler of Kent State in just 1:07. True freshman Matt McCutcheon (Apollo, Pa.), wrestling unattached, dropped a tough 6-4 decision to No. 12 Lorenzo Thomas of Penn in his quarterfinal bout.
Sophomore Morgan McIntosh (Santa Ana, Calif.), ranked No. 3 at 197, suffered a tough 2-0 upset loss to No. 14 J'Den Cox of Missouri and shifted into consolation action. Junior heavyweight Jimmy Lawson (Tom's River, N.J.), ranked No. 12 nationally, posted a thrilling 3-2 (TB2; rt) decision over No. 15 Austin Marsden of Oklahoma State to move on to the semis while classmate Jon Gingrich (Wingate, Pa.) dropped a tough 5-2 decision to No. 5 Nick Gwiazdowski in his quarterfinal match-up.
Penn State's seven semifinalists began action at 1:30 p.m. and Megaludis led things off got Penn State off to a fast start with a dominant 7-2 win over No. 6 Josh Martinez of Air Force. Gulibon then notched yet another huge win, this time over No. 10 David Thorn of Minnesota. Gulibon's 4-3 decision, fighting off a late shot by the Gopher, was key in the team race. True freshman Retherford was unfazed by his first Scuffle semifinal, rolling to a 2-0 win over No. 7 Chris Mecate of Old Dominion.
Taylor took the mat at 165 and added to his gaudy career totals by pinning No. 9 Zach Toal of Missouri at the 4:59 mark. The pin, his second of the tournament, was the 46th of his career. Then at 174, Brown walked away with a hard-fought 3-2 win over No. 5 Logan Storley of Minnesota in his semifinal bout, notching another big win in the team race. Ruth made it six in a row for Penn State in the semis with a dominating 22-7 technical fall over No. 12 Lorenzo Thomas of Penn at 184. The win was Ruth's 84th straight.
Heavyweight Lawson closed out Penn State's semifinalists with a tough 3-1 loss to No.1 Tony Nelson of Minnesota, dropping into the consolation semifinals. He took on teammate Gingrich in the consolation semifinal bout and posted a 2-1 decision to move into the third place bout. He took on picked up a medical forfeit win over No. 11 Jeremy Johnson of Ohio in the third place bout, to take bronze. Lawson, the No. 4 seed, placed third with a 5-1 record.
In the finals, Megaludis took on No.1 Garrett first at 125. The Lion junior fell behind early and mounted a furious rally before dropping a tough 6-4 decision to the top ranked Garrett. Megaludis lost 6-4 and took second place with a 5-1 run, including three majors. Megaludis is 16-2 with his only two losses to Garrett.
At 133, Gulibon, who entered the tournament as the No. 7 seed, took on No. 1-ranked Jon Morrison of Oklahoma State. Gulibon dropped a hard-fought 4-0 decision to the Cowboy grappler, taking second place. Gulibon's 5-1 run as was critical in Penn State's team-title run as the Lion improved to 9-7 on the year. Gulibon knocked off the 5th and 10th-ranked wrestlers during the tournament.
True-freshman Retherford used a blistering double leg for a clinching takedown against No. 19 Joe Spisak of Virginia. Retherford led late but Spisak surprised the Lion with a late takedown and the bout moved to extra time thanks to riding time for Retherford. The Nittany Lion rookie remained unbeaten, however, and clinched the 2014 Southern Scuffle title for Penn State with a fast takedown in sudden victory. The 6-4 (sv) win gave Retherford the 141-pound Scuffle title and capped off a 5-0 run that included a pin and a major. Retherford is now 17-0 on the year with three pins, two tech falls and three majors.
Taylor took on No. 2 Tyler Caldwell of Oklahoma State in the finals and, after a sluggish first period, blistered the Cowboy All-American on his way to a dominating 9-1 major decision. The major was highlighted by two two-point near falls in the second period and one in the third. Taylor also totaled 3:36 in riding time in the victory. Taylor posted a 5-0 mark during his title run, winning his third Southern Scuffle title. Taylor is now 17-0 on the year. He leaves the Scuffle with a 117-3 career record with 46 pins (seven shy of Penn State's all-time record of 53), 38 tech falls and 26 majors. His 117 wins is 11th all-time at Penn State.
Brown took on No. 2 Chis Perry of Oklahoma State in the finals at 174, a rematch of last year's NCAA title bout (won by Perry). Perry used two near fall points in the second period as the catalyst to a 4-0 win over Brown in the finals. Brown's second place finish at the Scuffle came off a 5-1 run which included two pins, a major and a forfeit. Brown leaves Chattanooga with a 17-1 record, including six pins, two techs and four majors.
Then, at 184, Lion senior Ed Ruth had his 84-match win streak snapped with a 7-4 upset loss to No. 7 Gabe Dean of Cornell. Dean used a first and third period takedowns and great defense to grab the win and send Ruth to defeat for the first time since his freshman year. Ruth took second at the Scuffle, ending his bid to become a four-time Scuffle titlist as he already has three titles. Ruth is now 16-1 on the year with 41 pins (third all-time at Penn State), 22 tech falls and 27 majors. His 118 wins is 10th all-time at Penn State.
Sophomore McIntosh rebounded from an upset loss earlier in the day to reel off three straight wins to advance to the third place bout at 197. He downed No. 16 Nick Bonaccorsi of Pitt in the conso semis to move to the third place bout where he was beaten again by No. 14 Cox and ended the tournament as the fourth place finisher. McIntosh's 5-2 showing has him at 16-2 overall heading into the Purdue dual.
Gingrich had a strong tournament as well. Entering as the 10th seed, the Lion junior wrestled above that. The Lion went 2-2 today and placed sixth. He dropped a tough 2-1 decision to teammate Lawson in the conso semis, which slid him to the fifth place match. Gingrich took a cautionary medical forfeit in that match, pushing the 10th seed to the sixth place slot. Gingrich went 5-2 with two majors (the medical forfeit does not count as a loss).
Conaway's strong run at 133 pounds ended in the fifth place match. The Lion began day two with a tough 7-6 loss to No. 11 Joe Roth but then responded with two wins, including a 7-4 victory over No. 18 Mark McGuire of Kent State. Following a loss in the consolation semifinals, Conaway ended his tournament with a tough 5-2 decision to No. 11 Roth and placed sixth. Conaway's 4-3 run to sixth as the No. 12 seed included two majors.
Sophomore Luke Frey (Montoursville, Pa.) entered the tournament as the 10th seed and wrestled above that. The Lion, making his first appearance since an injury in his first match in November, Frey posted a 5-3 mark, including two majors, a pin and a forfeit. He placed eighth, having to take an injury default in the seventh place bout in the second period.
Red-shirt freshman Zack Beitz (Mifflintown, Pa.) had a nice run at 149 for Penn State. Beitz went 2-2 and advanced to the quarterfinals, including an early round 10-4 upset win over No. 9 Scott Sakaguchi of Oregon State. Beitz' final loss came to teammate Frey in the sixth round of consolations, a close 2-0 decision. True freshman Matt McCutcheon (Apollo, Pa.) was also solid for Penn State, wrestling unattached at 184. McCutcheon posted a 3-2 record, advancing to the quarterfinals. He had a pin and a 5-4 win over No. 11 John Eblen of Missouri in the process.
True freshman Garret Hammond (Chambersburg, Pa.), wrestling unattached at 165, had a solid 3-2 tournament run at 165, including a tech fall and a pin. Red-shirt freshman Wes Phipps (Grove City, Pa.) was solid at 184, posting a 3-2 mark with a major and a win over No. 9 Boaz Beard of Iowa State. Junior Nate Morgan (McCook, Neb.) lost his only bout of the day and ended his tournament run at 141 with a 1-2 record. Senior James Vollrath (Richboro, Pa.) posted a 2-2 mark as Penn State's only 157-pounder.
Penn State entered day two with a 38-5 overall record. The Nittany Lions then went 7-5 in the quarters, 6-1 in the semis and 2-4 in the finals as well as 14-13 in all the consolation and medal action combined on day two. Penn State leaves Chattanooga having posted a 67-28 overall record with 17 majors, three tech falls and 11 falls.
Penn State returns to action on Sunday, Jan. 12, when the Lions welcome Purdue to Rec Hall for an already sold-out 2 p.m. showdown, returning home for the first time in nearly a month.
--Penn State Athletic Communications