Bonus points were the theme for Penn State on the first day of the NCAA Division I wrestling tournament, which began yesterday at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa.
The two-time defending champion Nittany Lions had six of their 10 entries advance to the quarterfinals with victories in the opening two rounds. The Nittany Lions recorded six pins, five major decisions and one technical fall to finish the first day atop the team standings.
Penn State's lineup features three returning national champions and a runner-up. All four earned a return trip to the quarterfinals and three earned bonus points for the Nittany Lions.
Returning champions David Taylor and Edward Ruth turned in the most impressive performances, as both recorded two pins.
Taylor, the defending champion and No. 2 seed at 165, pinned North Carolina's John Staudenmayer and Appalachian State's Zachary Strickland. Ruth, last year's 174-pound winner, made his debut at 184 and pinned Lock Haven's Fred Garcia and Arizona State's Kevin Radford. The pin of Garcia took 28 seconds, the second shortest of the round.
"The team carries that whole mentality about themselves," said Ruth, when asked about the team race and the importance of bonus points. "There's not too much talking. It's all mental. Coach Cael [Sanderson] says if you can go for extra points, go for it.
"It's really important for us to keep this momentum going and adding more to it. When you see a teammate doing it, you're like, 'I can go out there and do that.' You kind of feed off it."
Quentin Wright and Nico Megaludis also earned a return trip to the quarterfinals for Penn State.
Wright, a two-time finalist and one-time champion seeded No. 2, posted a 7-3 victory against Rider's Donald McNeil, then won, 3-2, against Drexel's Brandon Palik.
Megaludis, a Franklin Regional graduate, was the runner-up at 125 last season and is seeded No. 4 this year. He registered an 18-2 technical fall in the first round against Ohio's Kevon Powell, then advanced to the quarterfinals with a 4-1 victory against Central Michigan's Christian Cullinan.
"I controlled the match, but I can't control a match and only win by three points," said Megaludis, who wasn't pleased with his second-round win.
Pitt had five of its eight entries post victories in the first round, and three won in the second. Matt Wilps and brothers Max and Zac Thomusseit advanced to the quarterfinals.
Wilps, a graduate of Chartiers Valley seeded No. 3 at 197 pounds, opened with a 4-1 win against Virginia Tech's Derrick Borlie, then posted a 9-1 victory against Bloomsburg's Richard Perry in the second round.
Max Thomusseit, unseeded at 184 pounds, recorded a 4-1 victory against Oklahoma State's Christopher Chionuma in the opening round, then registered a 3-1 upset of Nebraska's Josh Ihnen, the No. 8 seed, in the second round.
Zac Thomusseit, the No. 9 seed at 285, posted 6-0 victories against Arizona State's Levi Cooper and Michigan State's Mike McClure.
Edinboro had an impressive showing from two No. 4 seeds, as A.J. Schopp and Mitchell Port earned quarterfinal berths in their return trip to the national tournament.
Clairion's James Fleming, the No. 5 seed at 157 and a West Mifflin graduate, opened the day with a 16-0 technical fall win, but lost in the second round.