Penn State wins another NCAA wrestling championship
- New Oxford grad Jordan Conaway earned All-America honors, finishing sixth.
- Two Penn State wrestlers won individual national crowns.
- Penn State earned 123 points, well ahead of second-place Oklahoma St.
NEW YORK — Penn State won two individual championships to cap a dominant run to its fifth team title in six years at the NCAA wrestling championships on Saturday.
The No. 1 Nittany Lions racked up 123 points over three days, with Nico Megaludis (125 pounds) and Zain Retherford (149) winning their first individual titles.
"When you win the national championships, you've got to be pretty happy and pumped," Penn State coachCael Sanderson said. "Obviously a great team effort — five guys in the finals, six All-Americans. We're happy. But we leave here ready to improve and build and get some freshmen to the next level. And we're happy we won but we're excited about the future also."
Megaludis beat Iowa's Thomas Gilman 6-3 and Retherford turned in the lone bonus-point win of the finals with a 10-1 major decision over Iowa's Brandon Sorensen.
No. 5 Oklahoma State finished with 97.5 points and also fielded two individual champions, Alex Dieringer (165) and Dean Heil (141). No. 7 Ohio State was third with 86 points and two individual titles.
Ohio State's Kyle Snyder (285) shocked North Carolina State's Nick Gwiazdowski in the final match of the evening. He charged through the defending champion for a takedown and posted a 7-5 win, spoiling Gwiazdowski's bid for a third title.
"It was a fun match," Snyder said. "I think it will go down as one of the most exciting heavyweight matches in NCAA history. And obviously I'm happy that the end result was to get my hand raised."
REPEAT CHAMPS: Illinois' Isaiah Martinez (157) put a halt to Penn State's celebrations with a last-second takedown for a 6-5 win over Nittany Lion freshman Jason Nolf. But Martinez's second straight title didn't come easy.
Somehow he avoided disaster when Nolf shrugged him to his back early. Nolf couldn't gain control on the mat and Martinez slipped past the Penn State freshman for the winning takedown with 16 seconds left.
"I said I need to do this right now to seal up the match," Martinez said. "And thank God I got my head through the hold, got enough to get the takedown."
Dieringer became just the 25th three-time champion with a 6-2 win over Wisconsin's Isaac Jordan. Cornell's Gabe Dean (184) also repeated by edging Nebraska's T.J. Dudley 5-3.
New Oxford High School graduate Jordan Conaway finished sixth at 133 pounds to earn All-America honors for a second straight season for Penn State.
OFFENSE GALORE: Ohio State's Myles Martin and Penn State's Bo Nickal tangled in another highlight-filled match that ended 11-9 in Martin's favor.
Martin snagged the opening takedown before Nickal finished one in the second period. But Martin took control of the match for good when he escaped and tossed Nickal to his back for six points. Nickal went for a throw of his own in the second, locking up Martin's arms and sweeping his legs out for a takedown, but Nickal couldn't roll Martin to his back for the needed points.
"In a second, when he tossed me on my back I was a little worried," Martin said. "But you can't stop wrestling. So I wrestled through it and ended up on his back out of balance.
A LONG, LONG WAIT: An emotional Megaludis collapsed to his knees on the mat before charging up into the stands to hug his parents.
They'd seen him come so close only to be crushed by mid-March defeats in three out of the last five NCAA tournaments. After losing in the finals as a freshman and sophomore, Megaludis took third as a junior. He redshirted last year, prolonging the wait for his final title shot.
He didn't hesitate to open up his offense against Gilman. Megaludis shot first and emerged from a first-period scramble with control. He'd add another takedown in the second period and keep Gilman at bay for a 6-3 win.
"It's not even celebration. It's just relief," Megaludis said. "I knew I was going to be the champion. It was a done deal a year ago when I signed everywhere — my room @ Penn State, my room at home, my bathroom at home, my wrestling room at home, my car steering wheel: I am 2016 national champion. I come into my car every day on my steering wheel and I see that and I brainwashed myself."
FIRST TIMER AND A COMEBACK: Missouri's J'Den Cox (197) returned to the podium after winning his weight class two years ago. He beat Penn State's Morgan McIntosh 4-2, securing the winning takedown with 16 seconds left.
Cornell's Nahshon Garrett (133) won his first title with a 7-6 victory over Iowa's Cory Clark. Heil's 3-2 win over Wyoming's Bryce Meredith was his first title.