Wrestling set for 2013 Big Ten Championships

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The Penn State Nittany Lion wrestling team (13-1, 7-1 B1G), ranked No. 1 nationally in Intermat's TPI, will head to Champaign, Ill., and the campus of the University of Illinois for the 2013 Big Ten Wrestling Championships. The two-day event, taking place on March 9-10 in the Illini's Assembly Hall, will serve as the national qualifier for the conference's 12 teams. Penn State has won the last two Big Ten titles (2011 at Northwestern and 2012 at Purdue).

Penn State is coming off a superb regular season that saw it begin the season as the No. 1 team on Intermat's TPI and end it that way as well. Head coach Cael Sanderson led Penn State to a 13-1 overall record, including a 7-1 mark in Big Ten duals. The Nittany Lions won yet another Southern Scuffle title in the process as well. Penn State outscored its 14 dual meet opponents by a gaudy 508-77 margin, including a lop-sided 279-58 Big Ten total. Sanderson led Penn State to five shut-outs, an all-time school best, including three in Big Ten action. Two of Penn State's shut-outs were on the road (at No. 8 Illinois and at Rutgers to close out the season).

The Nittany Lions feature one of the nation's deepest and most-balanced line-ups. All ten of Penn State's starters earned the Big Ten an automatic qualifying spot at their respective weights. The Big Ten will have 74 automatic qualifiers: seven at 125; seven at 133; six at 141; eight at 149; seven at 157; eight at 165; eight at 174; six at 184; eight at 197; and nine at 285. For the Nittany Lions to earn trips to Des Moines, each wrestler must finish within that qualifier range at their respective weights. The NCAA will announce any at-large bids the conference might earn the week after the qualifying tournaments end.

Heading into action for Penn State at 125 will be sophomore All-American Nico Megaludis, last year's NCAA runner-up. Megaludis ended the season ranked No. 3 by the coaches and with a No. 7 RPI. He is 21-2 overall, including a 7-1 mark in Big Ten duals. Red shirt freshman Jordan Conaway has burst onto the scene at 133, earning a No. 12 ranking from the coaches and No. 13 RPI. Conaway sports a 14-6 overall mark and went 6-2 in Big Ten duals. Senior Bryan Pearsall is ranked No. 21 by the coaches at 141 and has an RPI set at 18. Pearsall carries a career-best 19-7 record into Big Tens and went 6-1 in Big Ten dual meets. Sophomore Andrew Alton is ranked No. 13 by the coaches at 149 and has a lofty RPI of 6. Andrew has a super 22-2 mark overall and went 3-2 in Big Ten duals.

Sophomore All-American Dylan Alton enters the tournament ranked No. 5 by the coaches and holds the nations No. 1 RPI at 157. Dylan is 22-3 overall and went 4-1 in Big Ten duals. Two-time All-American and defending NCAA Champion David Taylor will look for his third straight Big Ten title and carries a 23-1 overall mark into Champaign. Taylor, the two-time Big Ten Wrestler of the Year, is ranked No. 2 by the NCAAs coaches and has the No. 1 overall RPI at 165. He was a perfect 8-0 in Big Ten duals and has never lost to a Big Ten opponent (40-0). Sophomore Matt Brown is ranked no. 7 by the coaches and has a No. 6 RPI at 174. Brown is 21-4 overall and went 5-3 in Big Ten duals.

Two-time All-American and defending NCAA Champion (at 174) Ed Ruth will carry a 25-0 mark into Big Tens, looking for his third straight conference title, this time at 184. Ruth went 8-0 in conference duals this year and has never lost to a Big Ten foe (39-0). He is ranked No. 1 by the coaches and has a No. 2 RPI. Three-time All-American and 2011 NCAA Champion at 184, Quentin Wright will bring a 24-0 mark into the Big Ten Championships, wrestling at 197. Wright went 8-0 in Big Ten duals this year. He is ranked No. 2 by the coaches and has a No. 4 RPI. Sophomore Jimmy Lawson is ranked No. 12 by the coaches at 285 and has a No. 10 RPI. Lawson owns a 20-4 overall mark and went 2-0 in Big Ten duals.

With pre-seeds announced on Monday, March 4, Megaludis is the No. 2 pre-seed at 125, Conaway No. 4 at 133. Pearsall is No. 4 at 141 and Andrew Alton is No. 6 at 149. Dylan Alton is No. 3 at 157. Taylor is one of Penn State's three No. 1 pre-seeds with the one-spot at 165 and Brown is No. 5 at 174. Ruth is No. 1 at 184 and Wright is No. 1 at 197 while Lawson is No. 7 at 285. The pre-seeds are NOT FINAL OR OFFICIAL as the seeds become finalized and the brackets drawn on Friday afternoon, March 8, in Champaign.

Penn State will be looking to win its third straight Big Ten title. Since Sanderson's arrival prior to the 2010-11 season, Penn State has won two NCAA Championships, two Big Ten Championships, two Southern Scuffle titles, the Big Ten regular season title, posted an 18-5-1 mark in Big Ten duals and gone 57-9-2 overall in duals. Sanderson's Lions have earned nine Big Ten Champions, 23 national qualifiers, 14 All-Americans and four National Champions in just three seasons. Last season, Penn State won the team title with 149.0 points, 15 points ahead of any other team. The Nittany Lions advanced three wrestlers to the title bout at their respective weights, with all three (Frank Molinaro at 149, David Taylor at 165 and Ed Ruth at 174) winning championships. Penn State had five Big Ten Champions the year before (2011) and one in Sanderson's first season at the helm (2010, younger brother Cyler Sanderson, who was Cael's first Big Ten Champion).

Action begins at 11 a.m. Eastern, 10 a.m. Central, on Saturday March 9. The Big Ten Network will not be airing the first three sessions but will be broadcasting the finals live on Sunday, March 10. All other rounds will be streamed live through the Big Ten's (and Penn State's) All-Access online video feed, which is a pay service.

The Nittany Lions will next head to Des Moines, Iowa, for the 2013 NCAA Wrestling Championships on March 21-23 in the Wells Fargo Arena. The Big Ten Championships also serves as the national qualifier for the Big Ten, with the Nittany Lion wrestlers looking to punch their respective tickets to the NCAA Championships. Fans are encouraged to follow Penn State wrestling via twitter at www.twitter.com/pennstateWREST and on Penn State Wrestling's facebook page at www.facebook.com/pennstatewrestling.

PENN STATE'S BIG TEN LINE-UP
No. 1 PENN STATE NITTANY LIONS (13-1, 7-1 B1G)

WT NAME EL HT/HS REC
125 Nico Megaludis So. Murrysville, Pa./Franklin Regional 21-2
#3 Coaches/#7 RPI/#3 Intermat/Pre-seed #2

133 Jordan Conaway Fr. Abbottstown, Pa./New Oxford 14-6
#12 Coaches/#10 RPI/#13 Intermat/Pre-seed #4

141 Bryan Pearsall Sr. Lititz, Pa./Warwick 19-7
#21 Coaches/#18 RPI/NR Intermat/Pre-seed #4

149 Andrew Alton So. Mill Hall, Pa./Central Mountain 22-2
#13 Coaches/#6 RPI/#13 Intermat/Pre-seed #6

157 Dylan Alton So. Mill Hall, Pa./Central Mountain 22-3
#5 Coaches/#1 RPI/#5 Intermat/Pre-seed #3

165 David Taylor Jr. St. Paris, Ohio/St. Paris Graham 23-1
#2 Coaches/#1 RPI/#2 Intermat/Pre-seed #1

174 Matt Brown So. West Valley City, Utah/Cyprus 21-4
#7 Coaches/#6 RPI/#7 Intermat/Pre-seed #5

184 Ed Ruth Jr. Harrisburg, Pa./Susquehanna Township 25-0
#1 Coaches/#2 RPI/#1 Intermat/Pre-seed #1

197 Quentin Wright Sr. Wingate, Pa./Bald Eagle Area 24-0
#2 Coaches/#4 RPI/#2 Intermat/Pre-seed #1

285 Jimmy Lawson So. Tom's River, N.J./Manchester Township 20-4
#12 Coaches/#10 RPI/#12 Intermat/Pre-seed #7

Team Rankings is Intermat TPI as of 2/26/13
Individual rankings as of 2/26/13 (Intermat)
Coaches Rankings and RPI as of 2/28/13 (NCAA official)
Pre-seeds listed are as of 3/4 and NOT OFFICIAL (official seeds become final on 3/8, post-press)

 

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Last Updated March 08, 2013