Penn State repeats as NCAA wrestling champions
Penn State won its second straight NCAA wrestling tournament before the final round, and kept charging.
David Taylor, Ed Ruth and Frank Molinaro wrapped up unbeaten seasons with individual titles and two underdogs were runner-ups for the Nittany Lions, who totaled 143 points for a 25 1/2-point cushion over Minnesota.
"I want to be the best," Taylor said. "And man, my motivation is just to go out and dominate someone. That's what I train my whole life to do."
Penn State led by 15 points after the morning session, and a vocal fan base mostly concentrated in one corner of the Scottrade Center showed support with a whiteout, then chanted "We are Penn State!" after the final match.
"They did what they had to do," said coach Cael Sanderson, the former Iowa State great. "We had nine guys score points in the tournament. I'm very proud of them."
Minnesota scored 117 1/2 points, Iowa was third with 107 1/2 points and Cornell fourth with 102 1/2.
"It was a good season, not a great season," Minnesota coach J Robinson said. "Penn State was just too tough."
The three-day tournament, held in St. Louis for the sixth time since 2000, was sold out and set an attendance record of 112,393. St. Louis has four of the top five attendance totals.
Cornell had three champions. Junior Kyle Dake (35-0) won his third title in three weight classes, Steve Bosak (34-4) beat Penn State' sixth-seeded Quentin Wright 4-2 in overtime at 184 and Cam Simaz won at 197 after finishing third the previous two years.
The top seeds qualified in eight of 10 weight classes and seven of them won.
Taylor (32-0) was named the meet's most outstanding wrestler and had perhaps the most impressive showing of the finals with a 22-7 technical fall over Brandon Hatchett of Lehigh at 165 pounds. Taylor pinned his other four opponents in the tournament and needed just five seconds to execute the first of eight takedowns.
Ruth (31-0) manhandled previously unbeaten Nick Amuchastegui 13-2 to go with two pins and a technical fall earlier in the tournament.
"Unbelievable feeling, especially when you're on the mat and you have the title in your grasp," Ruth said. "It's amazing."
Molinaro (33-0) beat No. 7 seed Dylan Ness of Minnesota for the fourth time this season at 149 pounds but got a much stiffer test with a 4-1 decision. Molinaro won the first three meetings by a combined score of 40-11.
Dake decisioned Derek St. John of Iowa 4-1 at 157 pounds, his first difficult match of the tournament. Iowa fans booed Dake when he said during a post-match ringside interview that he wasn't able to do much on offense, and Cornell fans responded with a standing ovation.
Dake, who pinned his other three opponents in the tournament, didn't give up a takedown all season and has a career record of 100-4. He was aggressive the first two periods before backing off and absorbed several slaps to the head in the third.
Matt McDonough (36-1) of Iowa won his second title in three years at 125 pounds with a 4-1 decision over Penn State No. 10 seed Nico Megaludis. McDonough, who finished second last year, had cruised into the final with two pins and a major decision before getting tested by Megaludis, who upset the Nos. 2 and 6 seeds.
"It feels just as good as title No. 1. Better. I mean, I don't know," McDonough said. "It's a new year, it's a new thing."
Redshirt freshman Logan Stieber (33-2) of Ohio State beat top seed and defending champion Jordan Oliver 4-3 at 133 pounds, saying afterward, "I just kept looking at the clock and waiting."
Michigan's Kellen Russell (33-1) repeated at 141 pounds with a 6-4 overtime victory over third seed Montell Marion of Iowa. Russell and Marion have met four times, all but one of the matches going to overtime.
At 285, Minnesota's Tony Nelson (32-2) got a takedown with seven seconds to go plus riding time to beat Zachary Rey of Lehigh 4-1. Nelson ended the year with a 25-match win streak and is the first sophomore national champion in school history.
Dylan Alton was the only Penn State wrestler in the morning session, which determined third through eighth place. He finished third with a 6-2 decision over Northwestern's Jason Welch.
The only top seed to lose before the semifinals was Joe LeBlanc of Wyoming, who finished seventh at 184.