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January 19, 2014

Wrestling: PSU rolls past Northwestern

125-pound Nico Megaludis says "it's just the name of the game."

The junior got Sunday's dual meet rolling for Penn State with a 23-6 opening victory, a technical fall in which he scored seven takedowns in the first five minutes.

"It's a normal thing I try to do," Megaludis added about his match. "I try to score a lot of points and have some fun."

Megaludis' teammates had some fun, too. His match appeared to set the tone for the rest of the dual meet. In all, the top-ranked Nittany Lions won eight of their 10 bouts vs. No. 14 Northwestern in front of more than 6,300 Rec Hall fans. Including Megaludis' major decision, seven of Penn State's eight victories came with bonus points for a final score of 39-8.

"To win nationals we have to score bonus points," said head coach Cael Sanderson, "and we saw a lot of that tonight. So it's good."

Best Performance - Morgan McIntosh drew No. 17-ranked Alex Polizzi at 197, and it turned out to be a shootout. But it was McIntosh who prevailed, scoring seven takedowns compared to Polizzi's one. One of McIntosh's takedowns came by Japanese wizzer/hip toss, which brought the crowd to their feet. Said McIntosh, "That was a fun move to hit."

But the crowd was at its loudest as McIntosh hustled two takedowns out of the third period to win 17-8 and build enough separation to earn the major decision for bonus points.

Most Anticipated Match - Jimmy Lawson had a brutal schedule this weekend, facing two top-ten ranked heavyweight wrestlers. Against Northwestern's Mike McMullan, the No. 4-ranked 285-pounder, Lawson fought hard to begin the match. But after fending off a McMullan takedown attempt for nearly two minutes, Lawson's left knee buckled. He fell to his back, surrendering the takedown and two near-fall points.

Although he was able to walk off the mat under his own power, Lawson was unable to continue and lost by injury default.

In the post-match news conference, Sanderson didn't have an update on Lawson but confirmed that he was being looked at by team trainer Dan Monthley.

Best Move - With two minutes left in the first period at 157, James Vollrath locked up a far-side cradle. After working to secure the cradle for nearly 15 seconds, he turned Benjamin Sullivan for three near-fall points, but Sullivan wiggled loose before the ref called the pin. Many fans, however, thought the ref had missed the call.

So one minute and three seconds into the following period, Vollrath went back to the far-side cradle and turned Sullivan, this time for the pin four minutes and three seconds into the bout.

Biggest Surprise - Facing Jason Tsirtsis, Northwestern's highest-rated wrestler, 149-pound redshirt freshman Zack Beitz escaped with less than 50 seconds remaining in the bout to tie the score 3-3.

With "Let's go Zack" chants bellowing throughout the fieldhouse, Beitz forced the match into sudden victory. In the overtime period, Tsirtsis took the first shot, a single on Beitz' left leg. Beitz fought the shot attempt with a wizzer for nearly a minute, but with 11.7 seconds left, Tsirtsis nabbed the winning takedown to win 5-3 and halt Beitz' comeback bid.

Did you notice? As fans entered the dual meet, Penn State handed out action figures that resembled 165-pound NCAA champ David Taylor.

Asked about the giveaway, Taylor said, "I remember when Cael got the bobble head at Iowa State. Things like that don't get made very often, so it's an honor and another thing that makes wrestling here at Penn State great."

Taylor returned the favor with 17-2 technical fall victory in 4:45.

No .1 Penn State 39, No. 14 Northwestern 8

January 19, 2014 - Rec Hall - University Park, Pa.

125: #2 Nico Megaludis PSU tech fall Garrison White NU, 23-6 (TF; 6:39) 5-0

133: #15 Jimmy Gulibon PSU dec. Dominick Malone NU, 8-2 8-0

141: #2 Zain Retherford PSU maj. dec. Pat Greco NU, 11-2 12-0

149: #4 Jason Tsirtsis NU dec. (SV) Zack Beitz PSU, 5-3 (sv) 12-3

157: James Vollrath PSU pinned Ben Sullivan NU, WBF (4:01) 18-3

165: #1 David Taylor PSU tech fall #9 Pierce Harger NU, 17-2 (4:45) 23-3

174: #3 Matt Brown PSU inj. def. #9 Lee Munster NU, (leading 10-1 at 3:56) 29-3

184: #2 Ed Ruth PSU pinned Jacob Berkowitz NU, WBF (1:36) 35-3

197: #7 Morgan McIntosh PSU maj. dec. #17 Alex Polizzi NU, 17-8 39-2*

285: #4 Mike McMullan NU inj. def. #12 Jimmy Lawson PSU, (trailing 4-0 at 2:44) 39-8

* Northwestern deducted team point during 197-bout, second bench warning

Attendance: 6,393 (16th-straight home sell out)

Records: Penn State 10-0, 4-0 B1G; Northwestern 6-4, 1-4 B1G

Up Next for Penn State: home vs. Illinois, Friday, Jan. 24, 7 p.m.

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