Five Lion semifinalists have Penn State within shot of defending championship

Updated: March 16, 2012

By Mike Finn

ST. LOUIS — Penn State moved even closer to repeating as national champions as five Nittany Lions guaranteed themselves All-American honors and a spot in tonight’s semifinals by scoring victories Friday morning at the Scottrade Center.

Of Penn State's five semifinalists, 125-pound Nico Megaludis has the lowest seed (10). But that didn't stop the 125-pounder from upsetting Minnesota's No. 2 seed Zach Sanders in their quarterfinal. (Tim Tushla photo)

It was hard to determine what Penn State performance garnered the most attention, considering 125-pound Nico Megaludis, the No. 10, seed, upset second-ranked Zach Sanders of Minnesota, 7-4, and top-ranked Frank Molinaro defeated No. 8 Eric Grajales of Michigan at 149 pounds.

But after Iowa’s Derek St. John held off Penn State’s Dylan Alton, 3-1 in overtime to give the Hawkeyes a fourth semifinalist and short-lived team lead over PSU after 157 pounds, three more Lions turned in dominating quarterfinal performances to 17-point lead heading into the semifinals.

The most dominant win among those three was David Taylor’s 30-second pin against Nebraska’s Robert Kokesh at 165 pounds— for the top-ranked Lion’s third fall in as many matches in St. Louis — before 174-pound Ed Ruth defeated Ohio State’s Nick Heflin, 11-4 and 184-pound defending champion Quentin Wright used a reverse cradle to pin Central Michigan’s Ben Bennett in 2:35.

With those win, Penn State now leads the field by 17 points with 78.5 points. The battle for second place apparently has come down to Cornell (61.5), Iowa (58.5) and Minnesota (56).

Session 3 Team Scores after Quarterfinals

NCAA bracket after Quarters

The Big Red, which finished second to Penn State last year, was helped out by two-time defending national champion Kyle Dake, who added his third pin in as many matches when he flattened Bloomsburg’s Frank Hickman in 4:10 at 157 pounds. Also joining Cornell’s semifinalists are 125-pound Frank Perrelli, 184-pound Steve Bosak and 197-pound Cam Simaz, who earned his fourth career All-American honor.

Iowa will also have four semifinalists, including 2010 national champion Matt McDonough, who gave up an opening takedown against Stanford’s Ryan Mango before exploding for 13 straight points at 125 pounds. Also winning for Iowa was Tony Ramos, who pinned Harvard’s Steven Keith at 133 pounds, and 141-pound Montell Marion, who rallied to beat 2011 national runner-up Boris Novachkov of Cal Poly.

Minnesota, which has eight quarterfinalist, saw just three victories from this group, including 149-pound freshmen Dylan Ness, who upset second-seeded Jamal Parks of Oklahoma State, and 174-pound true frosh Logan Storley, who scored the deciding point on a takedown with three seconds left against Iowa’s Ethen Lofthouse. Heavyweight Anthony Nelson joined his Gopher mates win the semis with a pin against Northwestern’s Mike McMullen.


Buckeye Brothers are Big

• Ohio State’s freshmen brother act of Logan and Hunter Stieber advanced to the semifinals. Logan, a redshirt freshman at 133, jumped out to a big lead and held on to beat Minnesota’s Chris Dardanes, 7-4, before his younger brother, Hunter, a true freshman, defeated No. 4 seed Michael Mangrum of Oregon State. These wins sets up a rematch for Logan against Iowa’s Tony Ramos — who Logan beat in the Big Ten tournament — and for Hunter against Michigan defending national champ Kellen Russell, who lost to the young Buckeye in this year’s Las Vegas Invitational.


Will the OW also win the Gorrarian Award?

Except for Wyoming’s Joe LeBlanc, who was upset at 184 pounds by Appalachian State’s Austin Trotman, all other top seeded remained in the tournament. And four of those remained unbeaten in the tournament by continuing their run of falls: Oklahoma State’s Jordan Oliver (133), Cornell’s Kyle Dake (157) and David Taylor, who all have three pins in as many matches, and American’s Ryan Flores, who added a fourth pin by flattening the Citadel’s Odie Delaney.

Kyle Dake, the two-time NCAA champ from Cornell, made Frank Hickman of Bloomsburg his third pin victim this national tournament. (Tim Tushla photo)

By continuing this run of pins, all four are putting themselves in position to win both the Outstanding Wrestler award and Gorrarian Award for the most pins in least time. For the record, only four wrestlers have accomplished the feat in the same tournament: Dick Delgado Oklahoma 1959; Dan Gable Iowa State, 1969; Bruce Kinseth, Iowa 1979; and Howard Harris Oregon St. 1980.

Oliver’s three falls have come in 6:12. Dake’s three falls took 6:54. Taylor needed 3:22 to pin three foes and Flores, who earned his first pin in a pigtail match, has used 14:07 to record his four pins.

Another wrestler who could earn this honor is Illinois’ 133-pound B.J. Futrell, the No. 4 seed, who has also pinned all three foes in 6:04. His most recent fall lasted just 44 seconds before pinning Northern Iowa’s Joe Colon in 44 seconds.


Quarterfinal Highlights


125 pounds

#1 Matt McDonough (Iowa) major dec. over #8 Ryan Mango (Stanford), 13-3 — After yielding an opening takedown to the St. Louis native, the Hawkeye responded with 13 straight points on four takedowns and one three-point nearfall in the first period.
#5 Nick Bedelyon (Kent St.) dec.  #4 Jesse Delgado (Illinois), 8-5, tb2 — The Golden Flash ended a controversial match in alarming fashion when he scored a takedown and two-point nearfall with eight seconds left in the second set of tiebreakers. It appeared that Bedelyon had won the match in the first sudden victory when the referee first gave him a takedown but rescinded the call at least three more minutes of overtime action.
#6 Frank Perrelli (Cornell) dec. US Anthony Zanetta (Pittsburgh), 6-3 — The Big Red senior scored both of his takedowns in the first period, then added a second period escape and 1:09 riding time advantage.
#10 Nick Megaludis (Penn State) dec. #2 Zach Sanders (Minnesota), 7-4 — The Nittany Lion clinched the upset when he scored his third takedown on the edge of the mat with 10 seconds left. After a scoreless first period, Megaludis took a 3-0 lead with 1:15 left in second frame on an escape and takedown. After two Sanders’ escapes, Megaludis extended the margin to 5-2 on a takedown with 1:20 left in the third.



133 pounds

#1 Jordan Oliver (Oklahoma St.) pinned #8 Zach Stevens (Michigan), 2:35 — Leading 4-0 when the Cowboy scored a takedown and two-point nearfall in the first minute, Oliver cradled the Wolverine and pinned him with 25 seconds left in the first period.
#4 B.J. Futrell (Illinois) pinned #5 Joe Colon (Northern Iowa), 0:44 — The Illini forced his will on the Panther when Futrell slipped in a half as he took Colon down and pinned him five seconds later.
#3 Tony Ramos (Iowa) pinned #11 Steven Keith (Harvard), 1:57 — The Hawkeye ended a scoreless first period when he finally earned a takedown against the Crimson with 1:16 left and pinned Keith 13 seconds later.
#2 Logan Stieber (Ohio State) dec. #10 Chris Dardanes (Minnesota), 7-4 — The Buckeye freshman used a first-period takedown and three-point nearfall to jump out on top 6-0 before the Gopher rallied with two takedowns in the final 47 seconds.


In a battle of national runner-ups from the past two seasons, Iowa's Montell Marion (left) got a good look at his win over Cal Poly's Boris Novachkov at 141 pounds. (Tim Tushla photo)

141 pounds

#1 Kellen Russell (Michigan) dec. #9 Nick Dardanes (Minnesota), 7-3 — The defending champion scored a takedown in each period for the victory.
#5 Hunter Stieber (Ohio St.) dec. #4 Michael Mangrum (Oregon St.), 6-5 — The true freshman Buckeye broke a 4-4 deadlock by scoring a takedown with 25 seconds left. Stieber also scored a first-period takedown before the Beaver fought back to tie the bout 3-3 on a second-period takedown.
#3 Montell Marion (Iowa) dec. #6 Borislav Novachkov (Cal Poly), 7-6 — The Hawkeye used a 1:25 riding time advantage to edge the defending national runner-up, who actually led 5-3 on a second-period reversal before Marion tied the match on an escape and third-period takedown and built up enough riding time before the Mustang escaped with 10 seconds left.
#2 Kendric Maple (Oklahoma) major dec. US Zach Neibert (Virginia Tech), 15-3 — In between two bookend takedowns, the Sooner put the Hokie on his back three different times and added a 4:13 riding time advantage.


149 pounds

#1 Frank Molinaro (Penn State) major dec. #8 Eric Grajales (Michigan), 10-2 — The Nittany Lion turned the close match into an extra team bonus point when he scored two of his three takedowns in the final third frame and added a 1:19 riding time advantage. The match was scoreless after one period.
US Justin Accordino (Hofstra) major dec. US Nick Lester (Oklahoma), 11-3 — The unheraled Pride wrestler needed about 50 seconds to catch the Sooner in a headlock for a 5-0 first-period lead before adding a second-period reversal and takedown. The final point came with a 1:01 riding time advantage.
#6 Tyler Nauman (Pittsburgh) dec. #3 Cole VonOhlen (Air Force), 9-5 — The Panther senior scored eight of his points in the first period when he first caught VonOhlen in a five-point move in the opening seconds and ended the frame with with a double leg takedown with just two seconds left.
#7 Dylan Ness (Minnesota) dec. #2 Jamal Parks (Oklahoma St.), 3-2 — The Gopher clinched the upset when he rode out the Cowboy the entire third period for a 1:34 riding time advantage. Parks scored the only takedown with a minute gone in the first period, before Ness tied the match with two escapes.


157 pounds

#1 Kyle Dake (Cornell) pinned #8 Frank Hickman (Bloomsburg), 4:10 — The two-time defending champion was leading 6-1 on two takedowns and a reversal when he caught Hickman in a reversal cradle for his third pin in as many NCAA matches.
#5 Ganbayar Sanjaa (American) dec. US Daniel Kolodzik (Princeton), 7-3 — The unheralded Tiger actually led 2-0 on a first-period takedown before the Eagle quickly tied the match with a reversal and added a two-point nearfall in the second period which also allowed him to gather much of his 2:23 riding time advantage.
#3 Jason Welch (Northwestern) dec. #11 James Green (Nebraska), 2-1 — The Wildcat used a 1:45 riding time and escape to offset a penality point for locking hands in the second period.
#2 Derek St. John (Iowa) dec. #7 Dylan Alton (Penn State), 3-1 sv — Just when it looked like the Nittany Lion freshman was about to score a takedown in the first overtime, the Hawkeye scrambled and ended the match with a takedown with 38 seconds left.


165 pounds

#1 David Taylor (Penn State) pinned #8 Robert Kokesh (Nebraska), 0:30 — The Nittany Lion’s third takedown of the tournament was his shortest when turned a takedown into a cradle and pinned the Husker.
#4 Bekzod Abdurakhmonov (Clarion) dec. #12 Paul Gillespie (Hofstra), 6-1 — The Eagle had exactly three minutes of riding time after he tallied a takedown in both the first and second period.
#11 Brandon Hatchett (Lehigh) dec. #3 Andrew Sorenson (Iowa St.), 7-3 — The Mountain Hawk, whose season was once in jeopardy after an mid-season injury in December, continued his dream run in St. Louis when Hatchett scored takedowns in both the first and third periods and added nearly four minutes of riding time.
#7 Josh Asper (Maryland) dec. #2 Shane Onufer (Wyoming), 5-3 — The Terp avenged a 2011 NCAA loss to the Cowboy by scoring a first-period takedown and building up a 1:05 riding time advantage.


Minnesota's Logan Storley, who won WIN's Junior Hodge Trophy last year, reached his first NCAA semifinal when he scored a takedown against Iowa's Ethen Lofthouse with four seconds left. (Tim Tushla photo)

174 pounds

#1 Ed Ruth (Penn State) dec. #9 Nick Heflin (Ohio St.), 11-4 — Ruth scored three takedowns — one in each frame and the final one coming on an inside trip — to also garner a 2:45 riding time advantage.
#4 Logan Storley (Minnesota) dec. #5 Ethen Lofthouse (Iowa), 3-1 — The Gopher scored the only takedown in the match with about four seconds left after both men exchanged earlier escapes.
#3 Nick Amuchastegui (Stanford) dec. Ryan DesRoches (Cal Poly), 6-1 — In a rematch of the Pac-12 final, the Cardinal scored two escapes, the second coming with nine ticks left in the second frame and added a 2:42 riding time margin.
#2 Chris Perry (Oklahoma St.) dec. Jordan Blanton (Illinois), 3-2 tb — The Cowboy clinched the match when he rode the Illini the entire 30 seconds of his tiebreaker phase and after Blanton was called for stalling while riding Perry. What made this match even more interesting was that Perry and his uncle, OSU coach John Smith, was opposed in the opposite corner by Illinois assistant Mark Perry, the older brother of Chris.


184 pounds

#9 Austin Trotman (Appalachian State) dec. #1 Joe LeBlanc (Wyoming), 12-9 — The Mountaineer scored four takedowns; the fourth coming on a power double with nine seconds left after the top-ranked Cowboy battled back from an 8-4 deficit and also picked up a stalling point against Trotman.
#4 Steve Bosak (Cornell) dec. #5 Kevin Steinhaus (Minnesota), 1-0 — The only point came in the second period when the Big Red wrestler escaped. Steinhaus chose neutral in the third period but could not score a takedown.
#6 Quentin Wright (Penn State) pinned #3 Ben Bennett (Central Michigan), 2:35 — The Lion was leading 2-0 when he caught the Chippewa in cradle and held him there for 40 seconds before scoring the fall.
#2 Robert Hamlin (Lehigh) dec. #7 Josh Ihnen (Nebraska), 7-4 — The defending national runner-up scored a takedown in each period for the victory.


197 pounds

#1 Cam Simaz (Cornell) dec. #9 Alfonso Hernandez (Wyoming), 8-2 — The Big Red senior clinched his fourth All-American honor with three takedowns — one in each period — and added a 1:44 riding time margin.
#5 Cayle Byers (Oklahoma State) dec. US James Nakashima (Nebraska), 5-4 — The Cowboy trailed throughout much of the bout — after surrendering a first-period takedown — before battling back with a third-period takedown and a 1:18 riding time advantage.
#3 Matthew Wilps (Pittsburgh) pinned #6 Brent Haynes (Missouri), 7:13 sv — The Panther put an exclamation mark 13 seconds into overtime when he first scored a takedown and was awarded a fall when the Tiger fell to his back in frustration.
#2 Chris Honeycutt (Edinboro) dec. #10 Sonny Yohn (Minnesota), 9-4 — After exchanging first-period takedowns with the Gopher, the Fighting Scot exploded with two more takedowns in the final period.



#1 Ryan Flores (American) pinned US Andrew Delaney (Citadel), 2:27 — The top-ranked Eagle flattened his fourth foe of the tournament when Flores, leading 5-0, turned over the Cadet with a half and pinned Delaney with 33 seconds left in the first frame.
#4 Zach Rey (Lehigh) dec. #5 Bobby Telford (Iowa),  2-0 — The defending national champ scored the only points on a second-period reversal. The Hawkeye chose neutral in third period but could not score a takedown.
#3 Clayton Jack (Oregon State) dec. #6 Cameron Wade (Penn State), 7-0 — The Beaver amassed a 3:38 riding time advantage after scoring a takedown in the first and third periods and a reversal in the second.
#2 Anthony Nelson (Minnesota) pinned #10 Michael McMullan (Northwestern),  4:50 — The Gopher was leading 1-0 when his only takedown turned into a reversal cradle with ten seconds left in the second period.