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Penn State Wrestling: Nittany Lions Fall to the Golden Gophers, 23-14

by on November 20, 2011 6:46 PM

Quentin Wright has been saying since late October that rankings don’t matter, that they are only a sign of respect and nothing more.

If that is true, the No. 4 Minnesota Gophers showed Wright and No. 2 Penn State no respect inside a packed Rec Hall Sunday afternoon. Minnesota pushed, prodded, and took down Penn State to win seven bouts -- one an upset -- to beat the Nittany Lions 23-14 in front of 6,227 people in Rec Hall.

With Penn State reeling after a slow start and trailing 14-3 at the intermission, Dave Taylor threw Minnesota’s No. 8 Cody Yohn around like a rag doll, clearly feeding off of whatever Coach Cael Sanderson said at the break. Taylor used near-falls and take-downs -- five, to be exact -- to secure the 16-1 tech fall in the second period and pull Penn State within six at 14-8.

Then it was Ed Ruth time. With both of Minnesota’s best at 174 not available, Ruth had the pleasure of showing Alec Ortiz the Rec Hall lights off his signature cradle that made it 14 all. Up next: defending national champion Wright at 184 against No. 6 Kevin Steinhaus.

Wright looked slow, though, almost reverting to the form he showed early last season. He didn’t attack much in the first period. Steinhaus took advantage from there on out, leading 3-1 in the third period, and scrambled beautifully out of a Wright shot in the third period. Claiming a 6-1 victory, Steinhaus crushed Penn State’s momentum and put Minnesota back on top, 17-14.

Morgan McIntosh fought hard and earned a take-down of No. 2 Sonny Yohn with less than a minute to go at 197 pounds. But McIntosh lost focus for just a second, and Yohn took advantage near the center of the mat, shot and scored a take-down and control that gave him a 4-3 lead.

Once Tony Nelson finished off Cameron Wade, 5-0, with riding time, it all added up to Penn State’s first dual-meet loss of the season.

It wasn’t surprising that Zach Sanders gave freshman Nico Megaludis all sorts of trouble at 125 pounds, though Megaludis was able to hang on for just a decision defeat in his first college defeat, dropping 6-2 as Sanders accumulated more than two minutes of riding time.

The first three results weren’t all that shocking. Seventh-ranked Dave Thorn majored Penn State’s Derek Reber at 133, followed by a dominating performance by No. 10 Nick Dardanes, who recorded eight take-downs in another major win, 19-6, over Sam Sherlock at 141.

The problem for the Nittany Lions on a nice, crisp day in State College was that, outside of Taylor and Ruth, their high-ranked wrestlers were worked; in Wright’s case, upset; and, in all cases, frustrated as J. Robinson’s bunch won the ever-important take-down battle, 26 to 13.

Frank Molinaro also took care of business at 149 pounds. He had to distance himself very late from a tough Dylan Ness with a 16-10 victory. Ness would not allow Molinaro to score bonus points, even when they seemed inevitable -- just another sign of Penn State’s struggles on the day. The Nittany Lions couldn’t score bonus points when they won, and gave up too many bonus points when they lost.

For Sanderson and company, an early-season dual loss is not a season killer. Nor is it a reason to dwell. But it’s certainly an eye-opener for the young members of this team, and a reason to get back in the room and work hard going forward.  

Full match results, courtesy of Penn State Wrestling:

#2 Penn State 14, #4 Minnesota 23

November 20, 2011 – University Park, Pa. – Rec Hall

125: #2 Zach Sanders MINN dec. #18 Nico Megaludis PSU, 6-2                                   

133: #7 David Thorn MINN maj. dec. Derek Reber PSU, 14-5                                        

141: #10 Nick Dardanes MINN maj. dec. Sam Sherlock PSU, 19-6                                 

149: #1 Frank Molinaro PSU dec. #5 Dylan Ness MINN, 16-10                                      

157: #9 Jake Deitchler MINN dec. #11 Dylan Alton PSU, 9-4                                          

165: #1 David Taylor PSU tech. fall #8 Cody Yohn MINN, 16-1 (TF; 4:29)    8-14

174: #2 Ed Ruth PSU pinned Eric Ortiz MINN, WBF (2:28)                                               

184: #6 Kevin Steinhaus MINN dec. #1 Quentin Wright PSU, 6-1                                

197: #2 Sonny Yohn PSU dec. #10 Morgan McIntosh PSU, 4-3                                    

285: #3 Tony Nelson MINN dec. #4 Cameron Wade PSU, 5-0                                       

Related coverage

Photo Gallery - 2011 Penn State vs. Minnesota

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