By the end of the Semi-Finals last year, Penn State had amassed an irrecoverable points lead and were celebrating their team victory. By the end of the Semi-Final championship round earlier tonight, PSU were close to repeating -- but they're not there just yet.
With wrestle-backs, the medal round Saturday morning to determine 3rd place and below, and of course the finals, for the Cael Sanderson coached Nittany Lions, victory is within their reach. Short of a disaster in results their end, and a superb showing by their closest competitors, it almost seemed academic at this point.
PSU's star talent David Taylor (165) didn't disappoint as he scored team points with yet another pin fall victory. Not as fluid as his astonishing 29 second pin from the Quarter Finals, it was none the less impressive. Bekzod Abdurakhmonov (Clarion) scored against Taylor early in the first period with a 2 point takedown, only to have Taylor score for an escape and a takedown of his own putting him 3-2 ahead. Taylor continued to rack up points with riding time and multiple takedowns until he found himself in a strong position on the ground, cross-facing Abdurakhmonov enough to turn him over, before swiftly gliding to a top saddle pin and adjusting his cross-facing arm into a reverse half-nelson that elevated Abdurakhmono's head and kept his shoulders on the mat.
Watching Taylor dominantly pin his way through the tournament hearkens back to the era of Dan Gable in his college days, and like Gable Taylor has suffered a finals set back in his career that shocked everyone. A pin on Saturday evening and Taylor perhaps already deserves his place among the sport's very best of all time.
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Unable to get a pin this time out, Oklahoma State's Jordan Oliver still picked up a dominant 8-2 decision over Bernard Futrell of Illinois. Intent on scoring from takedowns, Oliver was even willing to allow his opponent to escape and score 1 point at a time if it meant he could score 2 at a time in return. Oliver even went for a low single leg, made infamous by his coach John Smith, before time ran out in the third period. On the other side of the bracket, Logan Stieber (Ohio State) took a hard fought 4-2 decision win over Tony Ramos(Iowa) and meets Oliver in the 133 lbs final.
PSU's Frank Molinaro (149) seemed to show no sign of ill effect regarding his knee in his match with unranked Justin Accordino (Hofstra), bulldozing his way into an early takedown and showing great control with a heavy Cross-body leg ride from the back, racking up riding time but also looking for openings to end the match sooner. From this ride, Molinaro ankle picked at the insteps and laces of the far leg, hunted for one-on-one bar-arms to control a wrist, and at one point looked as if he might try to setup a Wrestler's Guillotine (Twister) for a pin. Another takedown and the 1 point for the riding time gave Molinaro a solid 5-0 decision victory.
174 lbs Ed Ruth was unable to get the pin over Logan Storley (Minnesota), though you can't fault him for trying. A quick take down from Ruth to open the first period, Ruth almost had a match ending cradle if not for his head wrapping arm being a little shallow, enough for Storely to worm his way free while conceding 3 near fall points in the process. Ruth was soon running away with it, and the points kept on coming eventually giving Ruth a 17-1 Tech Fall win.
Along with a 3-2 decision win by Quentin Wright (184) -- who somewhat played it safe in his match with Robert Hamlin (Lehigh) -- and a fantastic 3-2 Over Time win for #10 seed Nicholas Megaludis (125) over Frank Perrelli (Cornell), Penn State went 5-0 in the Semis.
Iowa's Matt McDonough won a 15-7 Major Decision over Kent State's Nicholas Bedelyon at 125 lbs, with McDonough being able to score early and often with takedowns, but Bedelyon managed to do enough to hang in there in the first period.
Michigan's lone representative in Kellen Russell picked up another win at 141 lbs, but not before Ohio State's Hunter Stieber was the first to score. Doing so almost seem to incense Russell who scored his own takedowns and riding time leading to a 5-2 decision.
Also at 141 lbs, Iowa's Montel Marrion had a fantastic match with Kendric Maple (Oklahoma), that saw Maple tying Marrion on the scoreboards and attempt to run down the clock in the first over time period. Having none of it, Marrion seized on a leg of Maple and dragged him back towards the center of the mat to stop him retreating, before scoring with a Sudden Victory takedown with around 11 seconds left of the Over Time period. Marrion faces Russell in a rematch from last year's NCAA's where many Hawkeyes insist Marrion was robbed of victory.
Kyle Dake (Cornell) was unable to muscle a pin this time out, but is well on his way to win his third NCAA title and doing so in a third different weight class. Opponent Ganbayar Sanjaa (American) played a very defensive game that stifled Dake's usual offensive output, but an escape, a takedown and another escape netted Dake a 4-0 Decision. Facing Dake in the finals is Derek St. John (Iowa)who beat Jason Welch (Northwestern) in a 5-1 decision.
Also for Cornell, Cam Simaz (197) did what was expected of him against Cayle Byers (Oklahoma State), scoring a quick 2 point takedown off the bat, and clocked some riding time before the referee called a stalemate. Two escapes from Byers and the pair were tied. Simaz got ahead 5-2 in the third period and earned himself a 5-03 decision.
Simaz meets Christopher Honeycutt (Edinboro) in the final, who dramatically scored a reversal and near fall in over time against Matthew Wilps (Pittsburgh) for an OT decision of 6-3.
Finally for Cornell, Steve Bosak (184) won his match after scoring a sudden victory takedown in over time against Austin Trotman (Appalachian).
At Heavyweight Ryan Flores (American) was unable to best Zachery Rey (Lehigh) after a clash of heads during a Rey takedown in the first period that had Flores visibly dazed for the rest of the match, while Rey remained unaffected.
Flores exhausted all his injury time trying to recover from a possible concussion, and because of the injury time taken, Rey got to choose how to start period 2 and 3.
Rey chose the down position both times, which he easily escaped for 1 point each time. Rey even threw Flores off of him like a ragdoll at one point, and barged him out of bounds Sumo style near the end of the third period. Flores just seemed out on his feet the whole time, and Rey vindictively used clubbing snap down attempts to make things worse. Flores far and away was the better wrestler of the tournament, but Rey got the win and finishes their career Rivalry 4 wins to 3.
Rey meets Anthony Nelson (Minnesota) in the finals.
Results collated from information found at TrackWrestling.com
Team Results (at time of writing)
1. Penn State 124.0
2. Minnesota 94.5
3. Iowa 87.5
4. Cornell 86.0
5. Lehigh 57.5
6. Oklahoma St. 57.0
7. Ohio St. 56.5
8. Illinois 53.0
9. Virginia Tech 35.0
10. Michigan 34.0
- Matt McDonough (Iowa) 35-1 won by major decision over Nicholas Bedelyon (Kent St.) 32-5 (Maj 15-7)
- Nicholas Megaludis (Penn State) 28-7 won in overtime over Frank Perrelli (Cornell) 33-6 (OT 3-2)
- Jordan Oliver (Oklahoma St.) 28-1 won by decision over Bernard Futrell (Illinois) 30-7 (Dec 8-2)
- Logan Stieber (Ohio St.) 32-2 won by decision over Tony Ramos (Iowa) 31-4 (Dec 4-2)
- Kellen Russell (Michigan) 32-1 won by decision over Hunter Stieber (Ohio St.) 28-5 (Dec 5-2)
- Montell Marion (Iowa) 31-3 won in overtime over Kendric Maple (Oklahoma) 31-2 (OT 3-1)
- Frank Molinaro (Penn State) 32-0 won by decision over Justin Accordino (Hofstra) 26-12 (Dec 5-0)
- Dylan Ness (Minnesota) 24-8 won by decision over Tyler Nauman (Pittsburgh) 30-6 (Dec 8-5)
- Kyle Dake (Cornell) 34-0 won by decision over Ganbayar Sanjaa (American) 25-4 (Dec 4-0)
- Derek St. John (Iowa) 21-2 won by decision over Jason Welch (Northwestern) 26-2 (Dec 5-1)
- David Taylor (Penn State) 31-0 won by pin over Bekzod Abdurakhmonov (Clarion) 34-5 (Pin 4:44)
- Brandon Hatchett (Lehigh) 22-3 won by decision over Josh Asper (Maryland) 28-2 (Dec 5-4)
- Edward Ruth (Penn State) 30-0 won by tech fall over Logan Storley (Minnesota) 26-7 (TF 17-1)
- Nick Amuchastegui (Stanford) 24-0 won by decision over Chris Perry (Oklahoma St.) 29-1 (Dec 6-3)
- Steve Bosak (Cornell) 32-4 won in overtime over Austin Trotman (Appalachian S.) 36-5 (OT 4-2)
- Quentin Wright (Penn State) 30-3 won by decision over Robert Hamlin (Lehigh) 32-2 (Dec 3-2)
- Cam Simaz (Cornell) 30-1 won by decision over Cayle Byers (Oklahoma St.) 26-4 (Dec 6-3)
- Christopher Honeycutt (Edinboro) 40-1 won in overtime over Matthew Wilps (Pittsburgh) 33-4 (OT 6-3)
- Zachery Rey (Lehigh) 26-2 won by decision over Ryan Flores (American) 21-1 (Dec 6-2)
- Anthony Nelson (Minnesota) 31-2 won by decision over Clayton Jack (Oregon St.) 38-2 (Dec 4-3)