Penn State in danger of losing hold on wrestling title
March 22, 2014 12:52 AM
Sue Ogrocki / Associated Press
Penn State's Matt Brown maneuvers above Iowa State's Tanner Weatherman in a 174-pound match in Oklahoma City.
By Ken Wunderley / Tri-State Sports & News Service
Penn State's hopes of becoming a four-time NCAA Division I Wrestling champion took a big hit Friday night at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City.
The Nittany Lions led Minnesota by a half-point and had a five-point lead on Oklahoma State, going into Friday night's semfinals, but will be hard pressed to claim a fourth consecutive title after a pair of semifinal loses.
Penn State took a big hit in the opening match of the semfinals, as two-time NCAA runner-up Nico Megaludis (32-4) dropped a 6-4 decision to Cornell's Nahshon Garrett (37-1). It was the third time Garrett beat Megaludis this season.
Penn State's second big hit came in the 141-pound semifinals, as No. 3 seed Zane Retherford (35-2) lost, 7-3, to Ohio State's Logan Stieber (32-1), a two-time NCAA champion.
The losses were huge, as Minnesota and Oklahoma State each had four entries in the semifinals. Oklahoma State had all four semifinalists record victories -- Joshua Kindig (24-8 at 149), Alex Dieringer (31-1 at 157), Tyler Caldwell (28-3 at 165).
David Taylor and Ed Ruth kept Penn State alive in the team standings with a pair of semifinal victories.
Taylor (36-0), the top seed at 165 pounds, earned his fourth trip to the finals with a 13-5 semifinal win against North Dakota State's Steven Monk (37-2). It was the 133rd career victory for Taylor.
"I'm excited. It's great to be back in the finals," said Taylor, a one-time NCAA champ and two-time runner-up. "There's no better feeling than wrestling in the NCAA finals.
In the quarterfinals, Taylor tied Penn State's career pin record with his 53rd, with Iowa State's Michael Moreno serving as the victim.
Ruth (36-1), a two-time NCAA champ, earned his third trip to the finals with a 5-3 semifinal win against Cornell's Gabriel Dean (41-3), the No. 3 seed at 184 pounds. It was the 135th career victory for Ruth, the No. 2 seed.
After the semifinals, Penn State still held an 91-87.5 advantage in the team race, but Oklahoma State can pick up big points with its four finalists.
It was not a good day for Edinboro, as the Fighting Scots' top two entries were defeated.
Edinboro suffered its first big blow in the quarterfinals, when Mitchell Port (30-2), the top seed at 141, dropped a 5-3 decision to North Carolina's Evan Henderson (39-7). Henderson, a graduate of Kiski School, was seeded No. 9.
Henderson then lost 12-3 to Virginia Tech's Devin Carter (21-0), the No. 4 seed, in the semifinals.
Port rebounded to become an All-American for the second consecutive year with an 8-0 win against Minnesota's Christopher Dardanes in the fourth round of consolations.
Edinboro's second big loss came in the semfinals, as A.J. Schopp (37-2), the No. 2 seed at 133, lost, 5-1, to Iowa's Tony Ramos (34-2), the No. 3 seed.
Schopp earned his semifinal berth with an 11-7 win against Purdue's Cashe Quiroga.
Port and Schopp were joined as All-Americans by David Habat (32-6), the No. 8 seed at 149. He earned place-winner status with an 8-3 win against Oregon State's Scott Sakaguchi.
Pitt had four wrestlers enter Friday evening's session with a chance to earn All-America status, but only Tyler Wilps was successful.
Wilps (33-7), the No. 7 seed at 174, lost 5-2 in the quarterfinals to Oklahoma's Andrew Howe (31-1), the No. 2 seed, but rebounded with a 3-2 win in the fourth round of consolations.
Anthony Zanetta (26-12 at 125), Max Thomusseit (24-5 at 184), and Nick Bonaccorsi (27-15 at 197) fell one win short of becoming an All-American after losing in the fourth round of consolations.
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