Sunday featured a little bit of déjà vu for Penn State wrestling.
A week after the No. 1 Nittany Lions(13-1, 7-1 Big Ten) finished their home slate with a dominating shutout of Rider, they followed up by blanking Rutgers, 34-0.
The victory extended the Lions’ winning streak to five consecutive duals and also earned coach Cael Sanderson his 100th career dual win as a head coach.
As much as the Lions controlled the scoreboard, only two of their weight classes posted better than a regular decision. Although the Lions did not record as many points this time — they tallied 48 team points against Rider — the Scarlet Knights (16-4, 6-1 EIWA) hardly posed much of a threat in any bouts of the dual, which was held in New Brunswick, N.J.
Despite the one-sided outcome, there were three matchups in the second half of the contest that were worth noting.
With the victory clinched well before he took to the mat, the Lions’ shutout fell on the shoulders of heavyweight and No. 12 Jimmy Lawson, who wrestled in the final bout of the day.
Lawson, who had recently regained the starting role at heavyweight from sophomore Jon Gingrich, almost let the shutout slip away at the hands of Scarlet Knights redshirt freshman Billy Smith.
An escape by Smith to begin the second frame was the only scoring throughout the first two periods of the matchup. Lawson then escaped to start the final period and the stalemate resumed again, sending the 1-1 match into sudden victory and an ensuing round of tiebreakers.
Trailing 2-1, Lawson completed a reversal with two seconds remaining in the match to win, 3-2, and secure the shutout.
Earlier on, No. 7 Matt Brown, who entered the day on a 1-3 skid in duals against ranked opponents, took on No. 14 Greg Zannetti at 174 pounds. Brown jumped out to an early lead and eventually took a 6-2 decision.
No. 1 Ed Ruth followed at 184 pounds, taking part in the only other match featuring two ranked wrestlers.
Ruth, last year’s national champion at 174 pounds, faced No. 10 Dan Rinaldi in one final tune-up before the postseason. He took the challenge in stride, winning 11-4.
With the regular season in the books, the Lions now have a week off from action. They compete again on March 9, when they head to Champaign, Ill. for the Big Ten Championships. The team has won the last two conference titles.
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