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By Mike Finn
ST. LOUIS — While five Penn State wrestlers were helping the Nittany Lions wrap up a second straight team championship, several other semifinal wrestlers avenged earlier-season losses at the NCAA Division I national tournament Friday night.
Thanks in large part to an upset win by tenth-seed Nico Megaludis at 125 pounds and a fourth-straight pin by David Taylor at 165 pounds, the Nittany Lions added three more semifinal wins and eventually left the Scottrade Center holding an insurmountable 124-101.5 lead over second-place Minnesota
Megaludis, who defeated No. 2 Zach Sanders of Minnesota during the quarterfinals on Friday afternoon, scored a 3-2 overtime win over Cornell’s Frank Perrelli, while Taylor proved he was human by giving up an opening takedown to Clarion’s Bekzod Abdurakhmonov before making the Eagle his fourth pin victim of the tournament.
Meanwhile, three other Penn State wrestlers punched their tickets to the Saturday night NCAA finals: 149-pound Frank Molinaro and 184-pound Quentin Wright — who qualified for their second national final — and 174-pound Ed Ruth,
Molinaro, who finished second last March, defeated Hofstra’s unseeded Justin Accordino, 5-0, while Wright avenged an earlier-season loss to Lehigh’s Robert Hamlin — the man he beat in last year’s NCAA final — with a 3-2 victory. Ruth meanwhile dominated Big Ten rival Logan Storley of Minnesota, 17-1.
Second-place Minnesota will send two wrestlers to tomorrow’s final, including freshman Dylan Ness at 149 pounds and sophomore heavyweight Anthony Nelson.
Meanwhile, third-place Iowa (93 points) and fourth-place Cornell (86) will send three wrestlers to the finals. Among Iowa’s finalists is 125-pound Matt McDonough, the 2010 national champion, who will be competing in his third straight final. Meanwhile, Cornell’s Kyle Dake (157) will be shooting for his third straight national championships.
Team Scores through Session Four
The following are highlights from the NCAA Semifinals
#1 Matt McDonough (Iowa) major dec. #5 Nic Bedelyon (Kent St.), 15-7 — The Hawkeye qualified for his third national final by scoring six takedowns — four in the second period — and added a 3:38 riding time advantage over the Golden Flash.
#10 Nic Megaludis (Penn State) dec. #6 Frank Perrelli (Cornell), 3-2 tb — The true freshman in blue and white earned a trip to his first final when he scored the only escape in the tiebreaker phase. The Nittany Lion also avoided what appeared to be a sure takedown for the Cornell senior.
#1 Jordan Oliver (Oklahoma St.) dec. B.J. Futrell (Illinois), 8-2 — The defending national champ scored two of his three takedowns in the first period, the rode the Illini the entire second frame, which helped the Cowboy add 2:37 riding time.
#2 Logan Stieber (Ohio St.) dec. Tony Ramos (Iowa), 4-2 — In a rematch of the Big Ten final, the Buckeye redshirt freshman ended up on top again when Stieber jumped on top 3-0 with a takedown to start the third period after the Hawkeye chose neutral. Ramos did score a reversal to cut the margin to 3-2 but could not score any more points after the Buckeye escaped.
#1 Kellen Russell (Michigan) dec. over Hunter Stieber (Ohio St.), 5-2 — The defending national champion avenged his only loss of the season when he rallied from a 2-0 first-period deficit when the Wolverine scored his only takedown with 45 seconds left in the second period and rode the Buckeye freshman the rest of the second frame and the entire two minutes of the third period.
#3 Montell Marion (Iowa) dec. #2 Kendric Maple (Oklahoma), 3-1 sv — The Hawkeye, who finished second in 2010, avenged his Midlands final by first pulling the Sooner halfway across the match in overtime before he eventually scored the winning takedown with 13 seconds left in the first overtime.
#1 Frank Molinaro (Penn State) dec. US Justin Accordino (Hofstra), 5-0 — The Nittany Lion senior earned his second straight NCAA final trip by amassing over four minutes of riding time, thanks to a first-period takedown and third-period reversal.
#7 Dylan Ness (Minnesota) dec. #6 Tyler Nauman (Pittsburgh), 8-5 — The Gopher redshirt freshman jumped on top 4-1 with two takedowns — the second coming off an ankle pick, but needed a last second reversal and a 1:57 riding time advantage to break a 5-5 deadlock late in the match.
#1 Kyle Dake (Cornell) dec. Ganbayar Sanjaa (American), 4-0 — After a scoreless first period, the two-time defending national champion scored three of his points in the second period with an escape and takedown.
#2 Derek St. John (Iowa) dec. Jason Welch (Northwestern), 5-1 — In a rematch of the Big Ten final, the Hawkeye won again on a takedown — coming with two seconds left in the first period — and a second-period reversal that led to a 2:02 riding time advantage.
#1 David Taylor (Penn State) pinned over Bekzod Abdurakhmonov (Clarion), 4:44 — The Nittany Lion sophomore actually spotted his Eagle teammate a takedown and 2-0 lead before Taylor responded with a takedown in the first period and three more in the second period before he caught Abdurakhmonov for his fourth pin of the tournament.
#11 Brandon Hatchett (Lehigh) dec. #7 Josh Asper (Maryland), 5-4 — The Mountain Hawk’s second takedown came with 1:37 left in the match after the Terp held a 4-2 lead in the second with a takedown.
#1 Edward Ruth (Penn State) won by TF over Logan Storley (Minnesota), 17-1 — The Lion sophomore put the Gopher on his back four different times, including once with a cradle in the first frame and twice in the third period with a pair of three-point tilts.
#3 Nick Amuchastegui (Stanford) dec. Chris Perry (Oklahoma St.), 6-3 — The Cardinal iced the match he exploded for a double leg takedown with 17 seconds left in the match. Perry, who trailed 2-1 after one period, actually led 3-2 on a second-period reversal before giving up a pair of escapes to the defending national runner-up.
#4 Steve Bosak (Cornell) dec. Austin Trotman (Appalachian State), 4-2 sv — The Big Red senior scored his only takedown of the bout with 32 seconds left in overtime near the edge of the mat. Trotman, the Mountaineer’s first All-American since 2003, jumped on top 2-0 with a double in the first period before Bosak forced overtime with two escapes.
#6 Quentin Wright (Penn State) dec. Robert Hamlin (Lehigh), 3-2 — In a rematch of last year’s NCAA final the Lion junior won again with a first-period takedown and second-period escape.
#1 Cam Simaz (Cornell) dec. Cayle Byers (Oklahoma St.), 6-3 — The Big Red four-time All-American earned his first national final when his second takedown came by countering a deep shot by the Cowboy.
#2 Chris Honeycutt (Edinboro) dec. Matt Wilps (Pittsburgh), 6-3 tb — The Fighting Scot avenged an EWL championship final loss to the Panther by earning a two-point nearfall in the tiebreaker phase of overtime.
#4 Zach Rey (Lehigh) dec. Ryan Flores (American), 6-2 — The defending national champion avenged an EIWA final loss to the Eagle by first scoring a takedown near the end of the first period — which left Flores flattened after bumping the head of Rey — and a second takedown with 58 seconds left.
#2 Anthony Nelson (Minnesota) dec. Clayton Jack (Oregon St.), 4-3 — The Gopher sophomore used a snapdown takedown with 25 seconds left in the mat to beat the Beaver who led 2-1 on a second-period takedown.