The Nittany Lions backed up their No. 1 ranking with a strong showing at the Southern Scuffle in Chattanooga, Tenn. on Tuesday, grabbing the lead against some stiff competition.
Penn State, the tournament's defending champion, took an eight-point lead over 2012 runner-up, No. 3 Minnesota, with six Lions’ wrestlers advancing to the semifinals in their respective weight classes.
The highly anticipated rematch of an exhibition bout earlier this year between Penn State’s reigning Hodge Trophy winner David Taylor and Cornell’s three-time NCAA champion Kyle Dake remains possible as both wrestlers moved on to the semis. Taylor and Dake earned two pins each during their march through the 165 bracket and Taylor will face Oklahoma State’s Tyler Caldwell while Dake will take on Viginia’s Nick Sulzer.
Sophomore Nico Megaludis, junior Ed Ruth and senior Quentin Wright entered the tournament as the Lions’ No. 1 seeds in their respective weight classes.
Megaludis earned two byes followed by two victories; one against Eddie Klimara of Oklahoma State and another versus David Terao of American in the quarterfinals, which was where Megaludis lost in the 2012 Southern Scuffle. Megaludis will face Nahshon Garrett of Cornell in the semifinals.
Ruth pinned three straight opponents in the 184 tournament before defeating Virginia’s Stephen Doty, 13-4, by major decision. The victory earned Ruth a match against Missouri’s Mike Larson in the semis. Ruth won the 174-weight class at the 2012 Southern Scuffle over teammate Matt Brown, who advanced to the semis of the 174 bracket on Tuesday and will take on Minnesota’s No. 2-seed Logan Storley.
Wright, the 184 champion at last year’s tournament, breezed through the 197 bracket and will face Minnesota’s Scott Schiller in the semis.
Junior James Vollrath was the lowest seed, at No. 5, to advance to the semis for the Lions. Vollrath earned two major decisions during his climb through the 157 tournament and will take on top-seeded Alex Dieringer of Oklahoma State on Wednesday.
The battle for the 285 starting spot may not have gotten any clearer for head coach Cael Sanderson as sophomore Nick Ruggear, freshman Jimmy Lawson and sophomore Jon Gingrich were all knocked out of the tournament on day one. Ruggear lost in the round before the quarterfinals and was later eliminated from the consolation bracket. Both Lawson and Gingrich lost in the quarters and were placed in the consolation tournament. If both Lawson and Gingrich win their next matches, they will wrestle one another.
The Lions have a number of wrestlers in addition to Lawson and Gingrich still alive in the consolation bracket of their weight-classes. Redshirt freshman Jordan Conaway and unattached freshman Jimmy Gulibon lost in the quarterfinals of the 133 class, but claimed spots in the consolation tournament. Redshirt freshman Luke Frey and senior James English also lost in the quarters at 149 and fell into the same position Conaway and Gulibon are in.
Freshman Zack Beitz, who wrestled unattached like Gulibon, senior Bryan Pearsall and senior Nick Fischer all rebounded from earlier losses and picked up two wins to stay alive. Beitz and Pearsall are wrestling in the 141 bracket while Fischer is in the 165 tournament.
The Lions look to pick up another championship Wednesday at McKenzie Arena with semifinal matches scheduled for noon and final matches at 6:00 p.m.