Wrestling caps strong first day at NCAA Championships

March 19, 2015

ST. LOUIS, Mo. -- The Penn State wrestling team closed out an outstanding first day at the 2015 NCAA Championships in near-perfect fashion. Head coach Cael Sanderson's squad followed up a perfect 7-0 first round with a 5-2 second round, only two hard-fought sudden victory losses from going 14-0 on the day.

Penn State picked up two more majors and advanced five into tomorrow morning's quarterfinals. Penn State has all seven wrestlers still alive. After the perfect first round, the Nittany Lions were done early in round two and with consolation action still going on. As of 9:30 p.m. Eastern, Penn State was in third place in a heated team race with Sanderson's Lions looking to win a fifth straight NCAA title.

Junior Jordan Conaway (Abbottstown, Pa.), the No. 11 seed at 125, took on No. 6 Thomas Gilman of Iowa in the second round. After a scoreless first period, Conaway notched an escape to start the second period and led 1-0 heading into the third. Gilman tied the score with an escape of his own to send the bout to sudden victory where the Hawkeye clinched the win with a takedown. The 3-1 (sv) loss, Penn State's first of the tournament, moves Conaway into tomorrow morning's consolation action.

Sophomore Jimmy Gulibon (Latrobe, Pa.), the No. 7 seed at 133, met Utah Valley's Jade Rauser in round two. Gulibon gave up a first period takedown and trailed 2-1 early. Rauser escaped to a 3-1 lead to start the second period but Gulibon quickly tied the match with a takedown. Rauser escaped to lead 4-3 after two and Gulibon quickly tied the match at 4-4 with an escape to start the third period. He then clinched the match with a takedown and two near fall points in the final :30 to post the 8-4 win and move into the quarterfinals tomorrow morning.

Sophomore Zack Beitz (Mifflintown, Pa.), the No. 12 seed at 149, met No. 5 Chris Villalonga of Cornell in round two. Villalonga chose down to start the second period after a scoreless opening stanza and escaped to a 1-0 lead. Beitz answered quickly, however, using a fast low shot to take a 2-1 lead with a takedown on the edge of the mat. Another escape tied the bout at 2-2 after two periods. Beitz chose down to start the third period and quickly escaped to a 3-2 lead. A Villalonga takedown and Beitz escape knotted the bout at 4-4 with :40 left to wrestle, sending the bout to sudden victory. Villalonga countered a Beitz shot in extra time for a takedown and a 6-4 (sv) win. Beitz moves to tomorrow morning's consolation round.

Senior Matt Brown (West Valley City, Utah), the No. 2 seed at 174, met No. 15 Santiago Martinez of Lehigh in the second round. Brown dominated the action in the first period, connecting on one of numerous shots to lead 2-0 after the opening stanza. He added a quick escape to start the period and another takedown and ride out to lead 5-0 with over 1:00 in riding time after two. Martinez chose down to start the third period and Brown cut him loose to begin working towards a major. The Lion senior added two more takedowns and rolled to a 10-2 major with 2:57 in riding time. The win moves Brown into tomorrow morning's quarterfinals.

Freshman Matt McCutcheon (Apollo, Pa.), the No. 14 seed at 184, took on No. 3 Blake Stauffer of Arizona State in round two. McCutcheon worked in on two solid low singles but Stauffer was able to fight of the Lion's efforts and send the bout to the second period tied 0-0. Stauffer escaped to a 1-0 lead to start the middle stanza. McCutcheon, down by one after two periods, then took down to start the third period and worked his way to an escape and a 1-1 tie at the 1:05 mark with Stauffer owning :52 of riding time. The bout moved to sudden victory where each man traded early scoring chances. McCutcheon broke through with a scrambling takedown with just :23 left to post the thrilling 3-1 (sv) win over the third-seeded Sun Devil. The win moves the Lion freshman into tomorrow morning's quarterfinals.

Junior Morgan McIntosh (Santa Ana, Calif.), the No. 2 seed at 197, met No. 15 Aaron Studebaker of Nebraska in the second round. McIntosh dominated the first period, notching two takedowns to lead 4-2 after the opening stanza. He took down to start the second, quickly escaped to a 5-2 lead, and blew through another high double to take a 7-2 lead. He added one more score in the middle period and led 9-3 after two. McIntosh would add two more takedowns, including one with just two seconds left, to secure important bonus points with a 14-5 major decision (with 1:44 in riding time). The victory moves McIntosh into tomorrow morning's quarterfinals.

Senior Jimmy Lawson (Toms River, N.J.), the No. 8 seed at 285, met No. 9 Michael Kroells of Minnesota in round two. The duo battled through a scoreless first three minutes. Kroells chose down to start the second period and quickly escaped to a 1-0 lead. Trailing by one after two periods, Lawson chose down to start the third and escaped to a 1-1 tie. Maintaining contact, the Lion senior worked for control high, then slid low quickly for a takedown on the edge of the mat and a 3-1 lead. Kroells quickly escaped to a 3-2 score with 1:20 left in the match. Lawson continued to push the action and added one more takedown to post the 5-2 win. The victory moves Lawson into the quarterfinals tomorrow morning.

The Nittany Lions went 5-2 in session two and picked up two more majors (Brown and McIntosh). Penn State was just two sudden victory losses from going a perfect 14-0 on the day. The Nittany Lions are 12-2 with 6.5 bonus points off five majors and a tech fall. As of 9:30 p.m. (with Penn State done wrestling and consolation action still ongoing), Ohio State was in first place with 22.5 points, Oklahoma State second with 19.0 and Penn State and Iowa tied for third with 18.5. Nebraska followed with 17.0. Remember, these standing could change post-press.

Penn State continues its 2015 NCAA Championship run on Friday during session three, which begins at 11 a.m. Eastern/10 a.m. Central in the Scottrade Center. Penn State 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 2014-15 Penn State Wrestling season is presented by The Family Clothesline.

2015 NCAA Wrestling Championships - Team Score Update
Top five as 9:30 P.M. (Eastern)
Consolation round in session, Penn State done for the evening
Thursday, March 19, 2015 - Scottrade Center - St. Louis, Mo.

1: Ohio State - 22.5
2: Oklahoma State - 19.0
3: PENN STATE - 18.5
3: Iowa - 18.5
5: Nebraska - 17.0
Att: 18,414

Last Updated March 19, 2015