While No. 1 Penn State will hit the road for two duals this weekend, two wrestlers will provide opposing fans some reason to cheer.
Nico Megaludis and David Taylor will both return to their home regions over the weekend as Penn State faces No. 15 Pittsburgh on Friday night and No. 6 Ohio State on Sunday afternoon.
Friday night's dual will allow Megaludis, a Western Pennsylvania wrestler who grew up in Murrysville, about 20 minutes outside of Pittsburgh, the chance to wrestle in front of a home crowd.
Megaludis registered a 170-1 record during his high school days at Franklin Regional in Murrysville and won three PIAA titles.
The 125-pound wrestler, whose dad coaches at Franklin Regional, said his family is planning to come to the match and that the support will help him Friday night.
“I'm always motivated,” Megaludis said. “It'll be different, it'll be cool to wrestle in front of, especially at an away match, my home crowd.”
The sophomore is set to face off against Godwin Nyama at 125 pounds Friday night. Nyama, a freshman, is 2-8 on the season while Megaludis is 17-1 and coming off a big pin against No. 5 Jesse Delgado of Illinois.
Two days later, Taylor, a St. Paris, Ohio, native, will wrestle an hour from his hometown when the Nittany Lions face the Buckeyes. While Taylor is a junior, it will be the first time that the team has visited Ohio State in his collegiate career.
“I'm really looking forward to going home to Ohio and wrestling in front of my home crowd,” Taylor said.
While in high school, Taylor won four Ohio State championships and posted a 180-2 record in his time at St. Paris Graham High School.
The junior will face freshman Mark Martin on Sunday, two days after wrestling Pittsburgh's No. 17 Tyler Wilps, younger brother of No. 2 Matt Wilps who will face No. 3 Quentin Wright at 197 pounds.
The recent performances of Taylor, including a weekend sweep against No. 13 Nick Moore of Iowa and No. 8 Conrad Polz of Illinois have caught the attention of head coach Cael Sanderson. It is a crucial time for wrestlers with the Big Ten championships about a month away.
“David Taylor is wrestling with a lot more fire and passion now than he was earlier in the year,” Sanderson said. “It's the same way really up the line.”
Once the calendar turns to February, the 165-pound wrestler is usually at his best. Last season, Taylor went 13-0 after Feb. 1, on his way to the national championship at 165 pounds. Of those 13 bouts, he won six by fall with no bout being closer than nine points.
Sanderson said Taylor is so successful in February because he embraces wrestling opponents closer to tournament time.
“He's the guy that looks forwards to those challenges,” Sanderson said. “He's obviously in a great weight class with potential matchups.”