BTN.com staff, March 18, 2016
The Penn State Nittany Lion wrestling team posted a perfect Friday night at the 2016 NCAA Wrestling Championships in New York?s Madison Square Garden and finds itself on the brink of yet another NCAA National Championship. Head coach Cael Sanderson?s squad was unbeaten in five national semifinal bouts as well as consolation action in session four of the three-day event.
Penn State?s five semifinalists roared through the session perfectly, going 5-0 with a pin and a tech fall while the Nittany Lions picked up a sixth All-American with a perfect run through consolation action. The Nittany Lions lead the team race with 114.0 points, far ahead of second place Oklahoma State?s 79.5. Iowa is in third with 77.5 and Virginia Tech fourth with 69.5.
Senior Nico Megaludis (Murrysville, Pa.), the No. 3 seed at 125, took on No. 15 David Terao of American in the national semifinals. Megaludis controlled the action from start to finish. The senior notched a first period takedown to lead 2-1 after the opening period. He then added an escape and a takedown in the second, riding Terao out to carry a 5-1 lead into the third stanza. In the third period, Megaludis built up a riding time edge with a strong ride to start and then, after a Terao escape, picked up another takedown. A final rideout and 1:32 in riding time gave the Lion senior an 8-2 win, sending him to the NCAA Championship match. Megaludis is 4-0 with a major heading into the national finals Saturday night against Iowa?s Thomas Gilman.
Sophomore Zain Retherford (Benton, Pa.), the No. 1 seed at 149, faced off against No. 5 Alec Pantaleo of Michigan in the national semifinals. Retherford, who had two pins over Pantaleo during the regular season, made it three for three against the Wolverine. Retherford took a 6-0 lead after one period with a takedown and four-point turn. In the second period, he notched another takedown and this time, turned a four-point turn into a pin at the 4:49 mark to move into the NCAA finals. Retherford is 4-0 with a tech fall and three pins heading into Saturday?s title tilt against Iowa?s Brandon Sorensen.
Red-shirt freshman Jason Nolf (Yatesboro, Pa.), the No. 3 seed at 157, met No. 15 Chad Walsh of Rider in the national semifinals. The Lion freshman put on an early takedown clinic, rolling out to a 14-3 lead after just one period, using multiple takedowns and a four point turn in the process. Nolf chose down to start the second period and quickly ended the match. He turned back into Walsh, forcing his back to the mat from the defensive position and, with the reversal and four near fall points, got a 19-4 technical fall at the 3:19 mark to move into the NCAA finals. Nolf is 4-0 with a pin, two techs and a major heading into tomorrow?s NCAA title bout against Illinois? Isaiah Martinez.
Red-shirt freshman Bo Nickal (Allen, Texas), the No. 1 seed at 174, faced No. 12 Nathan Jackson of Indiana in the national semifinals. Facing the only man to beat him to date (a 7-6 loss in a dual in January, Nickal avenged the loss on the biggest stage. Jackson took an early 2-1 lead with a first period takedown and extended it to 3-1 with an escape to start the second. But Nickal responded with a late takedown and rideout to tie the bout 3-3. A Nickal escape to start the third period proved the difference in a 4-3 Nickal win, moving the Lion freshman into the national finals. Nickal is 4-0 with two majors heading into the NCAA Championship match against Ohio State?s Myles Martin Saturday night.
Senior Morgan McIntosh (Santa Ana, Calif.), the No. 1 seed at 197, took on No. 4 Nathan Burak of Iowa in the national semifinals. In a match similar to the Big Ten title bout two weekends earlier, McIntosh muscled his way to a 4-2 win over Burak to advance to the NCAA Finals for the first time in the three-time All-American?s career. He used a first period takedown, an escape and 1:07 in riding time to earn the victory and advance to the championship bout. McIntosh is 4-0 with a pin and two majors heading into tomorrow night?s NCAA title bout against Missouri?s J?Den Cox.
Senior Jordan Conaway (Abbottstown, Pa.), the No. 5 seed at 133, faced Lehigh?s Mason Beckman in the fourth round of consolations, needing one win to become a two-time All-American. Conaway took an early 2-0 lead, fell behind by one after the second period and then rallied in the third period with an escape and a takedown to win 5-4. Conaway?s victory clinched his second All-America honor and moved him into the consolation quarters where he met No. 8 Earl Hall of Iowa State. Conaway dominated the bout, notching three takedowns, one in each period, to roll to a 7-2 victory. His 2-0 session Friday night has Conaway set for the consolation semifinals tomorrow morning against Zane Richards of Illinois. He can finish as high as third and no lower than sixth.
Junior Jimmy Gulibon (Latrobe, Pa.) went 2-2 at 141, junior Geno Morelli (DuBois, Pa.) went 2-2 at 165 and sophomore Matt McCutcheon (Apollo, Pa.) went 0-2 at 184 to round out Penn State?s nine-man contingent.
Penn State?s 7-0 night improved it to 28-7 through two days of the event. Sanderson?s squad has picked up 22.0 bonus points off five pins, four tech falls and six majors. Penn State has five NCAA Finalists for the third time in Sanderson?s seven years as Penn State?s head coach (2012 and 2013). Penn State?s six All-Americans marks the sixth time in Sanderson?s seven-year tenure that the Nittany Lions have had five or more All-Americans. The team race is not clinched for Penn State but could end Saturday morning depending on consolation results.
2016 NCAA Wrestling Championships - Team Standings (Top Five - Session 4):
March 18, 2016 - Madison Square Garden - New York, N.Y.
1: PENN STATE - 114.0
2: Oklahoma State - 79.5
3: Iowa - 77.5
4: Virginia Tech - 69.5
5: Ohio State - 68.0
Get more info at NCAA.com, including live scoring for all matches. The 2016 NCAA Wrestling Championships conclude Saturday, March 19 at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.