After storming through his freshman season last year, Nico Megaludis had one match lingering on his mind when the campaign ended. As a No. 10-seed last year in the NCAA tournament, only one wrestler stood between him and the national title at 125 pounds.
Friday’s dual meet at Iowa allowed Megaludis the opportunity to face No. 1 Matt McDonough for the first time since he fell to the Hawkeye wrestler in the national championship, 4-1.
Head coach Cael Sanderson said before the dual that he wanted the team to start at 125 pounds instead of a random draw, just so that there was no doubt about the result.
“I don’t like getting caught thinking, what if this? What if that?” Sanderson said. “Let me just know what we’re going to do and go for it.”
Despite the hype of the rematch, second-ranked Megaludis prepared like it would be any other dual.
“I take it like every other match but I have also been waiting 10 months to a year for this match,” Megaludis said.
Redshirt freshman Jordan Conaway said while the team didn’t have a film session to prepare for Iowa, each wrestler was free to come in and view film on an individual basis.
The rematch on Friday was another close one. Neither wrestler registered a takedown in the entire dual as the match went to sudden victory, 1-1. In the tiebreak period, McDonough registered an escape to win the dual 2-1 and move to 3-0 over Megaludis.
McDonough was victorious in the previous two hard-fought duals. The Iowa dual meet on Jan. 22, 2012 saw the match go to sudden victory, with the Iowa wrestler registering the winning takedown to win 3-1.
Since McDonough is one of the bigger 125-pound wrestlers at 5-foot-7, and Megaludis is the only lightweight on the Penn State squad, the sophomore has taken to practicing against wrestlers above his weight.
“I always do,” Megaludis said about practicing above his weight. “I’m the smallest one, everyone has 10 pounds or more on me.”
The sophomore didn’t let the loss get him down as just two days later, he faced off against No. 5 Jesse Delgado of Illinois. Megaludis fell behind early but rallied back to pick up a pin at the 6:45 mark. The 6-0 start gave the Lions a strong start in their 37-0 win over Illinois on Sunday.
While the Iowa match did not go in Megaludis’ favor, he feels that he is closer to beating McDonough now than he was last year.
“If I finish my shots, it’s completely different. I was in on his legs four times,” Megaludis said. “At first I was disappointed but last year I didn’t get to his legs once. Next match, what am I going to be able to improve on?”