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Penn State Wrestling: Five Nittany Lions Crowned Champion at Nittany Lion Open

by on December 02, 2012 7:00 PM

Updated at 7 p.m.

Penn State crowned five champions at the 2012 Nittany Lion Open, as it put on a strong showing at its host tournament.

"We lost some close matches there in the finals against some tough kids, but we have to take them and learn from them and move on," coach Cael Sanderson said. "Five champions is something to be happy about, but we want 10."

The five champions all came from the upper weights, save for 149-pounder Andrew Alton, who turned in a stellar performance all day, capped off with a victory in the finals by fall in 2:12 over Augustus Sako, of Virginia. It was Alton's first official day of wrestling this season, as he's continued to deal with an injured ankle.

"I feel good; just the only thing I want to focus on is getting after it a little bit more," Alton said. "I'm not at my best right now, but I think I did decent today."

Sako rolled through the early bouts with a string of underhook takedowns that produced a pair of decision victories, a pair of falls. The second decision was a 6-0 victory over Penn State senior James English in the semifinals.

"After I got taken down, I knew he was coming with the underhook, so I went in on a double leg and he tried to underhook again, so I just went straight to the headlock."

Junior David Taylor (165 pounds) and Ed Ruth (184 pounds) also took home titles, as well as 174-pound grappler Matt Brown and 197-pound senior Quentin Wright, who bested teammate Morgan McIntosh, 3-1 in sudden victory.

Taylor capped off a day that began with back-to-back falls followed by back-to-back technical falls with a pin of Buffalo's Matt Lewandowski in the finals in 5:42, while Wright dove in on a double leg and turned McIntosh just enough to pick up his title. Ruth faced a strong effort from Maryland's Jimmy Sheptock in a rematch of last year's Nittany Lion Open final, turning him away with an escape and late takedown in a 10-4 decision.

"Physically, I felt pretty good, and I got through the day without any injuries besides feeling sore, so I feel great," Ruth said. "I learned with wrestling at 184 instead of 174 is that these guys put up a good fight, and you have to be super adamant when you get to the leg."

Brown knocked off Rutgers' Greg Zanetti by decision, 7-4.

"I saw some areas that I did well in, but also areas that I have to pick it up. It was a good day," Brown said. "I feel good. Normally I get stronger throughout the tournament, and I felt like I did today."

Brown trailed early in the championship bout.

"He was up by two, but I fought back and got a reversal, and then a couple of takedowns," he said. "I was focused on my tie-ups and getting to the legs, and I felt I did a pretty decent job with that today."

Rounding out the Nittany Lions day was a runner-up finish for 125-pound sophomore Nico Megaludis, 133-pound freshman Jimmy Gullibon, 157-pound redshirt freshman Dylan Alton, 197-pound sophomore Morgan McIntosh and heavyweight Jimmy Lawson.

Junior Frank Martellotti picked up third place with a 9-6 victory over Ohio State's Johnni DiJulius, as did senior James English with a 7-2 victory over North Carolina's Nick Heilman. Jon Gingrich rounded out the third-place finisher at heavyweight with a 14-1 major decision over Old Dominion's Odie Delaney. Zach Beith and Bryan Pearsall picked up seventh and eighth place, respectively, at 141 pounds, while Luke Frey took fifth at 149 pounds. Rounding out Penn State's placers was Nick Fishcher, who took fifth at 157 pounds.

Penn State returns to regular season competition next Sunday, when the Nittany Lions host Indiana in their Big Ten Conference opener.

Update: 4:00 p.m.: Penn State has dominated the Nittany Lion Open in years past, and Sunday at Rec Hall, it looks like that tradition is in good shape to continue.

Headlined by a strong quarterfinal performance, 13 Nittany Lion grapplers will head into the semifinal round of action in the annual tournament, representing a variety of weight classes.

The semifinal action will start for Penn State at 125 pounds, where Nico Megaludis advanced with a 13-2 major decision over Pittsburgh's Godwin Nyama. It continues at 133 pounds, where Jimmy Gulibon and Frank Martellotti both picked up victories. Gulibon, a true freshman, bested Central Michigan's Zach Hordan, 11-6, while Martellotti beat Nassau's Anthony Abidin, 6-4. 

James English won an all-Penn state affair by decision, 3-0, over teammate Seith Beitz, while Andrew Alton opened his season with a 13-5 decision over Drexel's Matt Cimato. Luke Frey also wrestled in the 149-pound quarterfinals but was shutout by Virginia's Augustus Sako, 6-0.

The Nittany Lions went 1-1 at 157 pounds, with Dylan Alton scoring a hard-fought, 3-0 decision over Virginia Tech's Matt Stephens, while James Vollrach dropped a 6-0 decision to Clarion 2012 All-American James Fleming. Penn State also split at 165 pounds, where defending NCAA champion David Taylor stopped Michigan State's Bobby Nash with a 22-6 technical fall. 

It was a clean sweep at 174 pounds for the Blue and White, as Matt Brown handled Kevin Bailey of Lehigh, 11-4, followed by Ed Ruth's stellar performance and eventual fall over Brandon Griffin at the 5:40 mark. Penn State also picked up a sweep at 197 pounds, with Morgan McIntosh looking strong in a 5-1 victory over Old Dominion's Kevin Beazley and Quentin Wright scoring a fall at 3:34.

Quarterfinal action for the Nittany Lions was rounded out at heavyweight, where a pair of wrestlers battling for the starting spot, Jimmy Lawson and Jon Gingrich, were both victorious. Lawson dropped George Mason's Jacon Kettler by fall in 6:18 after controlling the first two periods, while Gingrich picked up a gritty 3-2 decision over Rutgers' William Smith.

Consolation results, as well as semifinal pairings, will be posted as they become available.


Greg Pickel writes for and Onward State. He's on Twitter as @GregPickel.
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