Penn State's Quentin Wright blows kisses after defeating Kent State's Dustin Kilgore in the 197-pound title match Saturday at the NCAA wrestling championships in Des Moines, Iowa.
By Ken Wunderley Tri-State Sports & News Service
The Penn State wrestling team hit the trifecta at the NCAA Division I wrestling tournament Saturday night at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa.
But the Nittany Lions had to share the spotlight with Cornell's Kyle Dake, who became the first wrestler in NCAA history to win four titles at different weight classes.
Dake (37-0) became the third four-time champion in NCAA history with a 5-4 win against Penn State's David Taylor (30-2) in the 165-pound final. Oklahoma State graduate Pat Smith and Iowa State graduate Cael Sanderson are the other four-time champs, but Dake is the first to achieve the feat in different weight classes.
Despite Taylor's loss, Penn State claimed a third consecutive team title with victories in two of the first three championship matches.
"I'm very grateful," said Sanderson, Penn State's coach, after the Nittany Lions clinched the team title. "This is a great group of guys. We're very happy to win another title."
Penn State entered the championship matches with a three-point lead over Oklahoma State, but the Nittany Lions had five wrestlers in the finals; the Cowboys had only two.
The first match was at 174 pounds, and it featured Penn State's Matt Brown (29-5), the No. 2 seed, and Oklahoma State's Chris Perry (35-2), the top seed.
The match went to double overtime, and Perry pulled out a 2-1 victory by riding Brown in the first tiebreaker period, then escaped in the second.
That gave Oklahoma State a one-point lead in the team standings, but Penn State responded with victories in the next two matches to clinch a third consecutive NCAA team title.
Ed Ruth (33-0), the top seed at 184, recorded his 68th consecutive win and finished as an unbeaten champion for the second year in a row with a 12-4 victory against Lehigh's Robert Hamlin (26-4), the No. 3 seed.
Quentin Wright (32-0), the No. 2 seed at 197, followed with an 8-6 victory against Kent State's Dustin Kilgore (43-1), the top seed, in the only title match that featured two unbeaten wrestlers. Wright's victory, which included a two third-period takedowns, clinched the team title.
"Quentin is clutch in the big matches. He's got great poise," Sanderson said.
Wright was making his third appearance in the final and claimed his second title.
Franklin Regional graduate Nico Megaludis was Penn State's fourth finalist. Megaludis (28-4), the No. 4 seed at 125, made his second consecutive appearance in the final, but had to settle for another silver medal after dropping a 7-4 decision to No. 2 seed Jesse Delgado (26-3) of Illinois.
Pitt's Matt Wilps (24-3) placed third at 197 pounds and Max Thomusseit (28-4) finished fifth at 285.
"It's great to see two seniors end their career on the podium," said Pitt coach Rande Stottlemyer. "Both are great kids who come from great families."
Wilps lost, 3-2, in four overtimes in Friday night's semifinals to Wright. He bounced back with two victories Saturday, including an 18-2 technical fall of Oregon State's Taylor Meeks in the consolation for third place. Thomusseit posted a 3-1 victory against Central Michigan's Jarod Trice in the consolation for third place at 285.