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December 9, 2012

Wrestlers shut out Indiana

If the six pins didn't give it away - or the fact that, as a team, Indiana scored one takedown or that the meet was actually clinched halfway through - then the 52-0 shutout score did. Penn State dominated Indiana Sunday afternoon in front of a 6,152 Rec Hall fans.

Beginning with four consecutive pins, the Nittany Lions gained momentum with each winning match. The lopsided victory - the most lopsided since Penn State toppled Millersville in 1983 - was capped with a thrilling 6-5 victory from Jon Gingrich over No. 8-ranked Adam Chalfant at 285 pounds. Though it was Cael Sanderson's fourth shutout victory as Penn state head coach, it was easily his most dominant.

"There were a lot of falls, obviously, and falls will do some damage on the score," said Sanderson. "There were some good matches in there. The match started off well, especially in those lower weights. ... When you jump out 24-0, it's tough to come back from. It's not good for the morale. Our guys took advantage of it."

Sanderson's biggest qualm with the 52-0 rout? With so many quick pins - four of which came before the third period - some of his wrestlers' endurance might not have been tested to the fullest extent. So they go back to the wrestling room.

"It's important that our guys are getting conditioning after their matches," he said, before adding, "We don't want to discourage them from pinning, but they have to make sure they're getting that work in."

Andrew Alton, who pinned his 149-pound opponent in 52 seconds, said he finished his conditioning on the exercise bike, pedaling the additional six minutes of what would have been the rest of his match. He also did some shadow wrestling. Said Sanderson, "The best time to work on their condition is on match day."

Best Performance - Gingrich's condition certainly was tested by the country's eighth-ranked heavyweight, and it passed with flying colors.

Picture this: Penn State leads 49-0. The outcome of the match has long been determined, but the majority of the fans decide to stay. A shutout is within reach, but it's up to Gingrich to seal the deal. But he's facing the only Hoosier wrestler that's ranked in the top-10. Any pressure?

"I thought about that some before my match," Gingrich said, "and I remember thinking to myself, 'You know what? Look at the score, you know it's going to come down to you for a shutout, but that shouldn't matter. The people that are there for you in life are still going to be there for you, whether you win or lose.'

"So I just kind of realized that I need not look at keeping a shutout, but going out there and win one for myself."

That's exactly what he did. After giving up a first-period takedown, Gingrich outlasted Chalfant and earned two third-period takedowns en route to the 6-5 victory. A native of nearby Milesburg, Pa., the crowd was at its loudest as Gingrich's arm was raised.

"When I got my hand raised," he said, "it felt like I could run through a brick wall."

Gingrich was also honored with the Ridge Riley Award for the meet's most outstanding wrestler.

Most Anticipated Match - In the only bout of ranked wrestlers, No. 2 David Taylor drew No. 18 Ryan LeBlanc, a fellow redshirt junior with a 15-3 record. LeBlanc flashed strong defense in the first period, fending of two takedown attempts from the undefeated Taylor, but the returning national champ proved to be too much to handle for a full seven minutes. A two-point tilt in the waning seconds of the third period lifted Taylor to a 9-0 major decision.

Best Move - After a redshirt season a year ago, No. 4-ranked Andrew Alton made his return to Rec Hall, but it didn't last long. Wrestling Geno Capezio at 149, it took Alton just 52 seconds to put Capezio to his back for the fall. Alton said Capezio "pretty much put himself in position" for the Lion wrestler to sink an underhook and a front headlock, and turn Capezio for the fourth-straight pin to open the night.

Biggest Surprise - 133-pound Jordan Conaway said he struggled a bit at the Nittany Lion Open, in which he finished 2-2, so he wanted to make a statement Sunday. That he did.

He jumped out a 9-2 lead, using three takedowns, by the late second period. Then Conaway said "he started to slow down a little." So he took advantage, pinning the fellow freshman Quin Murphy, who entered the match with a 15-5 record, in four minutes and 43 seconds.

Did you notice? - The Rec Hall P.A. announcer said the Nittany Lions will be wearing commemorative singlets when Lock Haven comes to town on Dec. 15 to honor American armed forces. The announcer didn't get into specifics about the new singlets, but I'm hearing one word: camouflage.


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