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Perfect Second Round Keeps Penn State on Top at NCAAs

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Updated: March 17, 2011

By Mike Finn

PHILADELPHIA — Penn State continued its strong run in the second round of the NCAA tournament as all seven wrestlers in the championship bracket won their matches to help the Nittany Lions maintain it their lead at the Wells Fargo Center.

Highlighted by David Taylor’s 20-3 technical fall over Northern Iowa’s David Bonin at 157 pounds, the Nittany Lions held a 30.5-29 margin over Cornell after all the championship and consolation matches were held on Thursday night. Iowa, the three-time defending champions, was tied with Oklahoma State for third place with 25 points. American University was in fifth place with 23.5 points.

The Lions actually got a scare in their first match of the night when 133-pound Andrew Long was trailing 5-3 in the third period of his match with Minnesota’s David Thorn, but came back on the strength of three minutes of riding time to force overtime and win 7-5.

Three of Penn State’s wins came against Big Ten rival Minnesota as PSU’s Ed Ruth edged Scott Glasser, 5-3, at 174; Quentin Wright defeated Kevin Steinhaus, 8-4, at 184, and heavyweight Cameron Wade beat the Gopher’s Tony Nelson.

The other wins for Penn State came from true freshman Andrew Alton, who majored American’s Matt Mariacher, 13-4, at 141; Frank Molinaro, who beat Virginia’s Derek Valenti, 6-3, at 149.

Penn State will open Friday’s quarterfinals with a 15-match winning streak. The only setback by the Nittany Lions on Thursday came in PSU’s first bout of the day when 125-pound Brad Pataky lost in the first round to Virginia Tech’s Jarrod Garnett. Pataky came back to win his wrestleback Thursday night, a 6-1 win over Oregon State’s Jason Lara.

Cornell saw all but two of its seven wrestlers advance to the quarterfinals. The Big Red got off to a rough start when Frank Perrelli was pinned by Kent State’s Nic Bedelyon in 25 seconds of their 125-pound bout and Justin Kerber lost in  a 2-1 tiebreaker to Rutgers’ Scott Winston at 165 pounds.

But Mike Grey held off Virginia Tech’s freshman sensation Dustin Carter 7-4 at 133 pounds before a pair of Cornell wrestlers scored consecutive falls: 174-pound Mack Lewnes flattened Ohio’s Nick Purdue in 2:55 and 184-pound Steve Bosak  ended his match with Arizona State’s Jake Meredith in 4:41. The final win for Cornell came at 197 where Cam Simaz defeated Nebraska’s Andy Johnson, 8-4.

Iowa saw five of eight wrestlers win second round matches, highlighted by Grant Gambrall’s 8-3 decision against Wyoming’s two-time All-American Joe LeBlanc at 184 pounds.

Also winning for the Hawkeyes were 125-pound defending champion Matt McDonough (a 14-4 major over Michigan’s Sean Boyle), Derek St. John (who decisioned Harvard’s Walter Peppelman, 8-2, at 157 pounds), and Luke Lofthouse (who beat Stanford’s Zach Giesen, 8-3, at 197).

Oklahoma State, which saw only five of ten wrestlers advance from the first round, saw four of those Cowboys advance to the quarters. The first was Jordan Oliver, the top seed at 133, who earned his second pin of the NCAAs when he flattened Northwestern’s Levi Mele in 2:11. Joining him in the quarters will be 149-pound Jamal Parks (a 3-1 winner over Illinois’s Eric Terrazas), 184-pound Chris Perry (a 5-2 victor over  Nebraska’s Josh Ihnen) and 197-pound Clayton Foster (who majored Pitt’s Zac Thomusseit, 10-1).

American University, located in Washington, D.C., saw three wrestlers advance to Friday’s quarterfinals. Ganbayar Sanjaa first pinned Wisconsin’s Cole Schmitt in 1:53 at 149 pounds, followed by Steve Fittery’s 23-7 technical fall over Edinboro’s John Gresheimer at 157 and heavyweight Ryan Flores’ 18-5 major decision against Columbia’s Kevin Lester.

All but one of the top seeds advanced to the quarterfinals. The lone exception was North Carolina State’s Darrion Caldwell, who was forced to injury default to Michigan’s Eric Grajales at 149 pounds. The match was scoreless in the first period when the Wolfpack senior — who was forced to sit out last season because of a shoulder injury — fell to the mat while grabbing his left arm in pain. Caldwell, a native of Rahway, N.J., made national news in 2009 when he upset Iowa’s Hodge Trophy winner Brent Metcalf for the 149-pound title.

After the match, Caldwell said he re-injured the left shoulder 58 seconds into the match.

“We got in a little scramble and my shoulder dislocated again,” Caldwell told TheMat.com. “Hopefully, we can have surgery or whatever the trainers and doctors tell me to do. It hurts to go out like this. It’s definitely not fun to end my college career like this and not finishing a match. I gave it everything I had. I’m satisfied with my career. Not the way it ended, but I’m satisfied with the overall career.”

Friday’s quarterfinals will begin at 10:30 a.m. (EDT)

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