Penn State Wrestling: Conaway, Ruth Stand Out in Nittany Lions Intrasquad
There were plenty of new faces under the singular Rec Hall light when 24 Penn State wrestlers took the mat to kick-off Penn State's wrestling season with its annual Intrasquad scrimmage Thursday night.
Sure, 125-pound 2012 national runner-up Nico Megaludis, 157-pound 2012 All-America Dylan Alton, 165-pound defending national champion David Taylor, and 2011 NCAA 184-pound champion and now 197-pound starter Quentin Wright didn't wrestle due to their trip to the NWCA All-Star meet they'll attend in two days Saturday at American University in Washington, D.C., but the action was strong nonetheless in front of quarter-full Rec Hall.
133 pounds: Four matches made up the 133-pound slate Thursday night, headlined by redshirt freshman Jordan Conaway, who bested junior Frank Martelloti 5-1, using a pair of takedowns and an escape to reach the margin of victory.
After the match, head coach Cael Sanderson revealed that Conaway has essentially locked-up the 133 pound starting role.
"Yeah, he pretty much has that spot now," Sanderson said. "We use this match to pretty much set our lineup for the first couple home duals."
In other action in the weight class, true freshman Jimmy Gulibon scored a major decision, 13-5, over redshirt sophomore Cam Kelly, taking an early 2-0 lead and never looking back. Redshirt sophomore Nate Morgan also recorded a victory, defeating redshirt freshman Michael Waters, 6-4.
141 pounds: Bryan Pearsall has been the starter at 141 pounds for two years and will likely hold down the spot again this season.
Pearsall kicked off the 141 slate with a 4-2 victory over true freshman Zach Betiz, using a late double leg takedown to seal the victory. In other 141-pound action, senior Derek Reber also scored a late takedown, and a riding time point gave him a 4-1 victory over Kyle Moran.
"I like to stay on guys and wear them down, but sometimes I don't do it as much as I'd like to," Pearsall said. "I have high expectations for my senior year. Anything less than an All-American finish would be a huge disappointment."
149 pounds: Just one match headlined the 149-pound class, with likely starter redshirt sophomore Andrew Alton out of action. Alton didn't wrestle Thursday night due to an injury, but Sanderson believes he'll be ready to go once the season starts.
"I believe he's a week or so away. It's tough to say," Sanderson said. "If it would have been the national championship, he could have wrestled."
In the lone match, James English beat Seth Beitz, 5-1.
157 pounds: As previously mentioned, Dylan Alton, the starter at 157 pounds, did not take the mat Thursday night, so there was no action at that weight class.
165 pounds: Defending national champion David Taylor sat the night out as well, leaving the 165-pound weight class to be represented by James Vollratch and Rex Lutz. Vollratch used a late second-period takedown along the edge of the mat and escaped off the third period whistle to win, 5-3.
174 pounds: Redshirt sophomore Matt Brown treated Rec Hall fans to their first fall of the season, throwing James Frascella to his back and cranking a half nelson long enough to record a pin at the 1:49 mark of the first period. Brown will draw the start at 174 pounds for Sanderson's club this season.
"I don't think I'm approaching this season any differently, I'm just looking forward to wrestling more regularly this season," Brown said. He wrestled sparingly a season ago but wrestled well in open competition, finishing the season at 27-2.
In other 174-pound action, redshirt junior Andrew Church recorded a 4-0 decision over Brandon Phillips.
184 pounds: Ed Ruth made his debut moving up a weight class, as the redshirt junior will bump up from 10 pounds to fill the role Wright vacated by moving to 197 pounds. He didn't disappoint.
Ruth toyed with true freshman Wes Phipps, who put up a strong match but was ultimately overpowered by the preseason No. 1. Ruth tech-falled Phipps, 21-4, in 5:59.
"I'm actually looking forward to not having to cut weight this year, because it's much easier to lose those few final ounces of water weight," Ruth said. "I don't think about it adjusting to a higher weight, though. I still want to keep it my match and make my opponent adjust to me.
"I love being a big guy now."
197 pounds: In the lone 197-pound match, Morgan McIntosh recorded a major decision over redshirt freshman Scott Syrek, racking up 3:26 in riding time for a 20-8 victory. McIntosh will redshirt this season after starting at 197 pounds a year ago before injuring his knee.
285 pounds: In the much-anticipated debut of Jimmy Lawson, who transferred into the program this offseason, the redshirt sophomore didn't disappoint, battling Jon Gingrich to the very end to score a 2-1 decision. Lawson threw Gingrich midway through the third period for a takedown, the only one of the match.
With Lawson's victory, the series between the two is all square, with a wrestle-off this weekend or early next week deciding who will grab the starting role.
"They're both great athletes, but different types of athletes, and they both are very strong and have a lot of potential," Sanderson said.
Lawson was excited to get back on the mat after playing football for two seasons at Monmouth University in New Jersey.
"It was definitely exciting to get back on the mat after two years, and I'm just trying to be a part of the team and learn as much as I can from my teammates," Lawson said. "There's something different about this place [Penn State]. It just feels like family."
Penn State will open its regular season on Nov. 16, when Lehigh comes to Rec Hall for a 7 p.m. dual.