Nittany Lions win third consecutive NCAA wrestling crown

DES MOINES, Iowa -- The Penn State Nittany Lion wrestling team, under the guidance of head coach Cael Sanderson, won its third straight NCAA Wrestling Championship, continuing a run of dominance that began in Philadelphia in 2011. The Nittany Lions also crowned two NCAA Individual National Champions as Ed Ruth (Harrisburg, Pa.), and Quentin Wright (Wingate, Pa.) each claimed titles on Saturday night (March 23).

The team championship is the third in a row for the Nittany Lions and the fourth NCAA title all time. Penn State also won the 2011 in Philadelphia and 2012 in St. Louis. The three straight titles are the first for Penn State since the Nittany Lions won in 1953.

The evening began at 174, where Nittany Lion sophomore Matt Brown (West Valley City, Utah), the No. 2 seed, faced No. 1 seed Chris Perry of Oklahoma State. Brown forced the issue throughout the match, forcing Perry to the edge of the mat consistently. But the Cowboy grappler was able to keep Brown at arm's length and send the match to the second period tied 0-0. Brown chose down to start the second stanza and quickly escaped to a 1-0 lead. The Lion sophomore continued to press Perry to no avail and lead 1-0 after two.

Perry chose down to start the third and quickly escaped to a 1-1 tie. Brown's offensive pressure finally forced a stall call with just over :10 and the bout moved to sudden victory tied 1-1-1. After a scoreless sudden victory period, Brown chose down to start his tie-breaker period and nearly escaped twice. But Perry was able to hang on to Brown's foot and then at the end was able to ride him out. Perry was able to escape during his tie-breaker period and that point proved the difference in a 2-1 (TB) decision. Brown ends his first NCAA tournament as the 2013 National Runner-Up at 174. The Nittany Lion All-American ends his year at 29-5 record after a 4-1 tournament run. Brown was also named the NCAA Elite 89 Award as the nation's top Division I wrestling student-athlete with the top GPA of all 330 championship competitors.

Junior Ed Ruth (Harrisburg, Pa.), the top-seed at 184, met No. 3 seed Robert Hamlin of Lehigh in the title bout at 184. With the Lions trailing by three in the team title race, Ruth put on a display for the Penn State faithful to vault the Lions back into the lead. Ruth notched a first period takedown and made it count on his way to a 2-1 lead after the first three minutes. The Nittany Lion junior took down to start the second period and quickly escaped to a 3-1 lead. He then took Hamlin down once more right before the end of the period and led 5-1 after three.

Seeking bonus points, Ruth put on a takedown clinic in the third period, getting three two takedowns and cutting Hamlin loose each time. After the last cut, Ruth used a low double to trip the LU senior to the mat for a final takedown. The points, combined with a massive 3:55 in riding time, gave Ruth the 12-4 major decision and bonus points for Penn State. The win gives Ruth a perfect 33-0 record to end the season and he heads into his senior year riding a 68-match win streak dating back to 2011. The three-time All-American has now won two straight NCAA titles and has a 102-2 career record.

With a chance to clinch Penn State's third-straight NCAA title at hand, senior Quentin Wright (Wingate, Pa.), the No. 2 seed at 197, faced No. 1 Dustin Kilgore of Kent State in the 197-pound final. Kilgore entered the match with an undefeated 43-0 record and Wright snapped his streak in style. The Nittany Lion drew first blood with a quick takedown in the first period. Kilgore was able to escape to a 2-1 Wright lead and then countered with his own takedown. Wright escaped after a brief Kilgore ride and the match moved to the second period tied 3-3. Wright chose down to start the second period and escaped in seconds for a 4-3 lead. The Nittany Lion began to up the tempo and nearly notched another takedown late in the period. But action was ruled out of bounds and Wright led 4-3 after two. Kilgore chose down to start the third and escaped as well.

It was at this point that Wright, with the serendipitous twist of being able to clinch Penn State's third team title in his final collegiate bout at hand, took over. Wright used an underhook to a knee pick twice to take Kilgore down in the final minute and rolled to the 8-6 win. The victory clinched the team title for the Lions and earned the four-time All-American his second national title (he won the 184-pound crown in 2011 and was runner-up last year). Wright finishes an undefeated season with a 32-0 mark, giving him a final career record of 116-23. Wright is tied for 10th on Penn State's all-time wins list with former four-time All-American and national champion Phil Davis. He leaves Penn State as its sixth four-time All-American (1st in '13, 2nd in '12, 1st in '11 and 6th in '09).

Sophomore Nico Megaludis (Murrysville, Pa.), the No. 4 seed at 125, faced off against No. 2 seed Jesse Delgado of Illinois in the 125-pound final. Megaludis, like each Lion before him, set the tempo early, pushing the action throughout the opening period. But Delgado's outstanding defense allowed him to fight off Megaludis' offense and the bout was tied 0-0 after one. Delgado notched the second period's only point with an escape.

Megaludis chose down to start the third and quickly escaped to a 1-1 tie. The Lion sophomore took a deep shot on Delgado and worked his way in on a takedown attempt. But Delgado forced a scramble and worked his way into control of the Lion's leg. The Illini then turned Megaludis for three back points and the five point move proved critical. Megaludis would escape and take Delgado down, but the damage was done and Delgado posted the hard-fought 7-4 win. Megaludis is now a two-time All-American and two-time National Finalist as a true sophomore. He posted a 28-4 record this year after a 4-1 tournament and heads into his sophomore year with a 56-12 career record.

In the evening's final match-up, junior David Taylor (St. Paris, Ohio), the defending NCAA champ at 165, met No. 1 seed Kyle Dake of Cornell, who was seeking his fourth individual title. Taylor stormed out of the gates quickly with a takedown in the first :30. After a :29 ride, Dake escaped to a 2-1 Taylor lead but a Cornell challenge halted action for a bit. Taylor held that lead until the final seconds of the period when Dake completed a shot and took the Lion junior down to lead 3-2 after one period. Dake chose down to start the second period and escaped to a 4-2 lead. Taylor spent the rest of the period setting the tempo but Dake's defense was able to keep the Lion from scoring.

Trailing 4-2, Taylor chose down to start the final period but could not escape a strong Dake ride until the Big Red grappler had built up a solid minute-plus riding time edge. Dake was hit for stalling twice and then Taylor escaped with :19 left to tie the bout at 4-4. But Dake was able to back away from Taylor and kill the clock. The 1:13 in riding time gave Dake the 5-4 win. Taylor ended an outstanding junior year with a 30-2 record after a 4-1 tournament run. A three-time All-American and last year's 165-pound champ, Taylor is also a two-time NCAA finalist. He heads into his senior season with a stellar 100-3 career record and is tied for second with Quentin Wright on Penn State's all-time pins list with 37.

Every member of Penn State's 10-man contingent has added points to Penn State's team total. Red-shirt freshman Jordan Conaway (Abbottstown, Pa.) advanced to the 'round of 12' at 133 and went 3-2 with a pin, sophomore Dylan Alton (Mill Hall, Pa.) advanced to the 'round of 12' at 157 and went 3-2 with two majors, senior Bryan Pearsall (Lititz, Pa.) went 1-2 with a major at 141, sophomore Andrew Alton (Mill Hall, Pa.) went 1-2 with a pin at 149 and sophomore Jimmy Lawson (Tom's River, N.J.) went 1-2 at heavyweight.

Penn State posted a 2-3 record in the finals. Penn State leaves Des Moines with a 31-13 overall record having earned 29.5 bonus points off ten pins, one tech fall and eight majors. Taylor won the NCAA's Most Technical Falls Award with 10 and won the Gorriaran Award for most pins in the least amount of time at the 2013 NCAA Wrestling Championships (4 in 9:22 officially). Head coach Cael Sanderson was named the 2013 NWCA National Coach of the Year, the second time he has won the award (2007).

Twenty-two different individuals have now won a total of 27 NCAA titles. The Nittany Lions' point totals during the last three years under Sanderson are the top three in school history. Penn State set a school record during last year's title run with 143.0 and won the 2011 title with 107.5.

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. The 2012-13 Penn State Wrestling season is presented by The Family Clothesline.

2013 NCAA Wrestling Championships -- FINAL Team Standings -- TOP FIVE
Saturday, March 23, 2013 - Wells Fargo Arena - Des Moines, Iowa

1: PENN STATE - 123.5
2: Oklahoma State - 119.5
3: Minnesota - 103.0
4: Iowa - 73.0
5: Cornell - 65.0

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Last Updated December 20, 2013