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March 22, 2013DES MOINES, Iowa -- Quentin Wright says they are "a band of brothers."
Referring to teammates Nico Megaludis, David Taylor, Matt Brown, Ed Ruth and himself, Penn State's band of brothers advanced to the championship round at the 2013 NCAA Championships in Des Moines, Iowa, after a 5-for-5 performance in Friday night's semifinal round. It's only the second time in school history that five Nittany Lion wrestlers will wrestle for a championship, matching last season's grand total.
"Really, we're cheerleaders of each other," the 197-pound senior added. "When we're in the practice room, we try to push each other as hard as we can to the point where we want to puke or pass out. We just want to make each other better."
Whatever they're doing inside the Lorenzo Wrestling Complex, it's working for most of them. Not only does Penn State have five wrestlers vying for individual NCAA titles Saturday (8:00 p.m./ESPN), it also has a 20.5-point lead in the team race over second-place Oklahoma State (114.5-94). The Cowboys advance two wrestlers to the finals and have five more in Saturday morning's consolation rounds. Third-place Minnesota (88) has one wrestler in the finals, while seven will wrestle in the consolations. Depending on the outcome of the early bouts, Penn State could clinch the team title Saturday night with a couple wins, or fewer.
The Nittany Lions won't have any wrestlers competing in the consolation bracket Saturday morning, as two more wrestlers were eliminated Friday night. Jordan Conaway fell one match shy of All-America honors at 133, losing to Oklahoma's Cody Brewer by major decision. 157-pound Dylan Alton also lost by major decision one round before securing All-America status, falling to Nebraska's James Green.
So the band of brothers, all of whom garnered All-America honors Friday morning, will take it upon themselves to secure the team title for Penn State.
"Being a part of this group, it's great," Ruth said. "Every time I go back into the locker room and I see another teammate coming back, they're happy - unless you're Nico because he's flipping out because he hates [close matches] - but everybody else, when they come back in the locker room, you give them a high five, a good job. Because when they're winning, you're winning, too."
Megaludis said he wasn't completely satisfied with his 125-pound semifinal, although he topped the No. 1-seed Alan Waters of Missouri. In a match that went into two overtime periods, Megaludis, a sophomore, held on for the victory by accumulating just 18 more seconds of riding time than Waters for the tiebreaker. Unless you're name is Quentin Wright, bouts don't get much closer.
"[Waters] made me wrestle his match and he wasn't getting as tired as I wanted him to," Megaludis recalled immediately after the bout. "That's something I've got to learn. It's a good thing to have a match that I'm not too happy about heading into tomorrow."
Megaludis added that he felt his conditioning lifted him to his second consecutive NCAA final appearance.
While Megaludis won by a riding time differential of 18 seconds, teammate Wright won his 197-pound semifinal in double overtime with a riding time differential of just 3 seconds. The overtime win lifted him past opponent Matt Wilps of Pittsburgh and into his third consecutive NCAA final.
"From watching Nico's match, I realized that in the second overtime, you have to have more riding time than the other guy, no matter if he gets out or not," Wright said. "After that, when I got into that position, I knew I had to get out as fast as I could and hold him for one more second to win the match."
At 165 pounds, Taylor didn't let his match go into overtime. In fact, he didn't let it get out of the second period, pinning Peter Yates of Virginia in 3:24. It was the longest match of Taylor's tournament, however, which includes three additional pins that came in the first period.
"I don't know what to tell you," he said. "I get in this tournament and something happens where I can pin people. I'm not complaining. In this tournament, bonus points are everything."
While Taylor was the only Penn State wrestler to earn bonus points in the semifinals, Brown earned a close 3-2 decision over Minnesota's Logan Storely at 174 and Ruth topped defending champion Steve Bosak of Cornell, 4-1, at 184.
During the 174-pound bout, however, the lights unexpectedly dimmed on the entire Wells Fargo Arena and stayed that way throughout Ruth's 184-pound match. Global Spectrum Operations released a statement saying "we had a split-second sag in our power which affected the high intensity sport lighting."
"I thought it was very strange," Brown said. "I had no idea what that was about. They said to keep wrestling, so that's what I did."
"It was cool, though," Ruth added. "I liked it."
Look for a preview tomorrow morning, previewing Saturday night's finals.
125 - No. 4 Nico Megaludis
1st Rd: vs. Kevon Powell, Ohio - W, 17-2 TF (6:25)
2nd Rd: vs. Christian Cullinan, Central Michigan - W, 5-2 dec.
Qtrs: vs. Dominic Parisi, Appalachian State - W, 12-4 maj. dec. Semis: vs. #1 Alan Waters, Missouri - W, 2-2 (TB2, RT 0:18)
Finals: vs. #2 Jesse Delgado, Illinois - Tomorrow
133 - No. 12 Jordan Conaway
1st Rd: vs. Vincent Dellafave, Rutgers - L, 1-3 (SV)
Cn 1: vs. Dylan Hyder, Air Force - W, 6-4 (SV2)
Cn 2: vs. Dane Harlowe, Boston - W, 6-4 dec.
Cn 3: vs. Rosario Bruno, Michigan - WBF (4:17)
Rd. 12: vs. #8 Cody Brewer, Oklahoma - L, 4-14 maj. dec.
141 - Bryan Pearsall
1st Rd: vs. Joey Lazor, Northern Iowa - L, 4-12 maj. dec.
Cn 1: vs. Frank Goodwin, Maryland - W, 10-2 maj. dec.
Cn 2: vs. Steven Keith, Harvard - L, 3-8 dec.
149 - No. 11 Andrew Alton
1st Rd: vs. Drake Houdashelt, Missouri - L, 1-4
Cn 1: Daniel Young, Army - WBF (2:05)
Cn 2: vs. #12 Eric Grajales, Michigan - L, 1-8 dec.
157 - No. 8 Dylan Alton
Pigtail: vs. Jake O'Hara, Columbia - W, 10-2 maj. dec.
1st Rd: vs. Donnie Tasser, Pittsburgh - W, 8-4 dec.
2nd Rd: vs. Zac Cibula, Rider - W, 13-5 maj. dec.
Qtrs: vs. #1 Jason Welch, Northwestern? - L, 3-8 dec.
Rd. 12: vs. #4 James Green, Nebraska - L, 4-14 maj. dec.
165 - No. 2 David Taylor
1st Rd: vs. John Staudenmayer, North Carolina - WBF (2:51)
2nd Rd: vs. Zach Strickland, Appalachian State - WBF (2:41)
Qtrs: vs. #7 Conrad Polz, Illinois - WBF (0:24)
Semis: vs. #3 Peter Yates, Virginia Tech - WBF (3:41)
Finals: vs. #1 Kyle Dake, Cornell - Tomorrow
174 - No. 2 Matt Brown
1st Rd: vs. Todd Porter, Missouri - W, 10-1 maj. dec.
2nd Rd: vs. Nick Bonaccorsi, Pittsburgh - WBF (1:30)
Qtrs: vs. Tanner Weatherman, Iowa State - W, 13-5 maj. dec.
Semis: vs. #6 Logan Storley, Minnesota - W, 3-2 dec.
Finals: vs. #1 Chris Perry, Oklahoma State - Tomorrow
184 - No. 1 Ed Ruth
1st Rd: vs. Fred Garcia, Lock Haven - WBF (0:28)
2nd Rd: vs. Kevin Radford, Arizona State - WBF (3:41)
Qtrs: vs. Max Thomusseit, Pittsburgh - W, 11-1 maj. dec.
Semis: vs. #4 Steve Bosak, Cornell - W, 4-1 dec.
Finals: vs. #3 Robert Hamlin, Lehigh - Tomorrow
197 - No. 2 Quentin Wright
1st Rd: vs. Donald McNeil, Rider - W, 7-3 dec.
2nd Rd: vs. Branden Palik, Drexel - W, 3-2 dec.
Qtrs: vs. #10 Scott Schiller, Minnesota - WBF (2:48)
Semis: vs. #3 Matt Wilps, Pittsburgh - W, 2-2 (TB2, RT :03) dec.
Finals: vs. #1 Dustin Kilgore, Kent State - Tomorrow
285 - Jimmy Lawson
1st Rd: vs. Jeremy Johnson, Ohio - L, 3-4 dec.
Cn. PT: vs. Adam Fager, Utah Valley - W, 5-4 dec.
Cn. 1: vs. Ben Apland, Michigan - L, 3-7 dec.
1. Penn State - 114.5
2. Oklahoma State - 94
3. Minnesota - 88
4. Iowa - 68
5. Missouri - 51
Action resumes Saturday morning at 11:00 a.m
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