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January 18, 2012

Preview: Penn State vs. Iowa wrestling

A normal Tuesday open practice at the Lorzeno Wrestling Complex is comprised of three or four beat reporters, scouring for any piece of injury news, roster updates or Cael Sanderson truisms that they can find. But not this Tuesday, things we're different.

Nearly a dozen reporters were in attendance, video cameras were rolling, photographers were clicking away, and one-one-one interviews were scattered throughout the room.

All the commotion and added attention, it meant only one thing: It is Iowa week.

"(Iowa) is one of the best programs in any sport, historically," Sanderson said, "and there is a reason for that."

That reason: Iowa has won more national championships than any other wrestling program in the country. From 1978-1986, they won nine straight, and out of the last 37 possible titles, the Hawkeyes have captured 23 of them.

Since 1928, 51 Iowa wrestlers have combined for 78 individual national championships, including the most recent by its current 125-pounder, Matt McDonough.

Though this year's squad isn't decorated with accolades like some of the Iowa teams in the past, they still boast four returning All-Americans and seven national qualifiers. And like its counterpart Penn State, the roster is decked out with promising talent still in their first or second years of eligibility.

But each of the 10 starters that will likely take the mat Sunday at 2 p.m. in Rec Hall for the Hawkeyes were on the roster that last year upended the Nittany Lions at home, 22-13.

At the time, Penn State was the No. 1 team in the country by nearly every poll. This year, the Lions are No. 1 by Intermat's tournament standards, but sit at No. 3 in the most recent National Wrestling Coaches Association's poll. Iowa is ranked No. 2 in the NWCA poll, but No. 3 in Intermat's.

Long story short: The pair of teams is neck-in-neck, as even as it gets, and Sunday's match has all the fixings to be one for the ages.

"I love it, its fun, I'm not going to lie," said Ed Ruth, Penn State's 174-pounder. "Every time we go up against (Iowa) we have those toss-up matches, the matches that you're not sure if you're going to win or not.

"Those are the most exciting ones. Those are the ones that make you really feel like you deserve it. Those are the matches that you really get into."

Probable matchups

No. 3 PENN STATE (7-1, 3-1 Big Ten) vs. No. 2 IOWA (9-1, 4-0 Big Ten)

125 No. 8 Nico Megaludis (PSU, 16-4) vs. No. 2 Matt McDonough (Iowa, 19-1)

133 Frank Martellotti (PSU, 6-1) vs. No. 2 Tony Ramos (Iowa, 19-1)

141 Bryan Pearsall (PSU, 10-6) vs. No. 3 Montell Marion (Iowa, 17-1)

149 No. 1 Frank Molinaro (PSU, 19-0) vs. Mike Kelly (Iowa, 12-5)

157 No. 8 Dylan Alton (PSU, 14-4) vs. Nick Moore (Iowa, 10-6)/ No. 2 Derek St. John (11-0)

165No. 1 David Taylor (PSU, 17-0) vs. No. 6 Mike Evans (Iowa, 18-2)

174 No. 2 Ed Ruth (PSU, 19-0) vs. No. 9 Ethen Lofthouse (Iowa, 14-4)

184 No. 2 Quentin Wright (PSU, 16-2) vs. Vinnie Wagner (Iowa, 6-5)/Jeremy Fahler (Iowa, 8-4)

197 No. 12 Morgan McIntosh (PSU, 12-5) vs. Grant Gambrall (Iowa, 7-4)/Tomas Lira (Iowa, 8-6)

285 No. 6 Cameron Wade (PSU, 16-4) vs. No. 12 Bobby Telford (Iowa, 14-3)



Click the video below for the extended preview!





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