DES MOINES, Iowa -- Ed Ruth said there was no grand speech, or a rah-rah pep talk before the second session of the 2013 NCAA Wrestling Championships Thursday night. He and his nine teammates, Ruth said, simply knew what needed to be done in order to maintain the lead in the team race.
Advancing six wrestlers to tomorrow's quarterfinals, Penn State was nearly perfect during the Thursday evening rounds. It tallied 10 wins out of 11 bouts, six of which came with bonus points.
"[Bonus points] are really important for us," Ruth said. "It makes us see that we can keep this momentum going and just add more to it. It just helps [as we] go along."
Heading into the quarterfinals Friday morning, the Nittany Lions are in first place, holding a 3.5-point advantage over second-place Oklahoma State. Only one PSU wrestler has been eliminated from the tournament, which is held in the Wells-Fargo Center in Des Moines, Iowa.
While the Cowboys advance one more wrestler to the the quarterfinal, it's been Penn State's bonus points, which come from pins, technical falls and major decisions, that have been the difference maker.
125-pound sophomore Nico Megaludis picked up the first win of the second championship round, but it was 165-pound junior David Taylor, 174-pound sophomore Matt Brown and 184-pound junior Ruth who piled on the bonus points in the championship round.
Beginning with a fall in 2:42 from Taylor, Penn State tallied an almost unheard of back-to-back-to-back falls. Brown's came in 1:30, while Ruth pinned his opponent in 3:42. Of course, he used a cradle. In two bouts on Thursday, Ruth wrestled a collective 4:10.
"I'm not just focusing on wrestling and winning the match," Ruth said after the win. "I also just wanna have fun at the same time. Usually when you're having fun, you're going to do better."
Though 197-pound Quentin Wright didn't continue the pinning streak, he did tally a hard-fought 3-2 victory - his 15th national tournament win of his career. After scoring only an escape throughout the first two periods, Wright notched a low single-leg takedown late in the third, which was enough for the victory.
"It wouldn't have been like that if I would've gotten that first period takedown," Wright laughed. "I almost had that, but he rolled out. Sometimes that happens."
The close bout, however, could be a blessing in disguise, Wright said. With the competition only increasing, Wright is expecting a few more tight-scoring battles like his most recent win against Drexel's Brandon Palik.
"Anytime you have a 1-0, 3-2,10-9 match, it really helps in the long run," he explained. "It helps with close matches. You know how to win whenever the pressure is on. Sometimes when you're down, you know how to get those points to win the match. You wanna get as many team points as you can. I need to pick it up."
Penn State also has three wrestlers still battling in the consolation bracket. 133-pound redshirt freshman Jordan Conaway won his first wrestleback with an overtime takedown, 6-4. It was also his first-ever NCAA tournament victory.
141-pound senior Bryan Pearsall added his first career NCAA tournament victory, too - a dominating 10-2 decision over Frank Goodwin of Maryland. 149-pound sophomore Andrew Alton rebounded from an opening-round loss with a first-period pin in 2:05 over Daniel Young of Army.
Penn State's only loss on the evening came in the heavyweight consolation bracket. After winning his first career NCAA tournament bout - a 5-4 win over Utah Valley's Adam Fager in the consolation pigtails - sophomore Jimmy Lawson fell to Michigan's Ben Apland, 7-4. He had been winning 4-3 heading into the third period. But after choosing down to start, Apland flattened Lawson, locked up a bow-and-arrow leg ride and turned Lawson to his back for almost the remainder of the third period.
"We had some matches that we didn't expect to lose," Ruth said of his team's performance. "I hate seeing our guys lose. They come in the back and they just seem so torn up. I hate to see that from my teammates, because I just feel like we are a close family. When I see that and they lose, I feel like I've lost myself."
Action resumes Friday morning with consolation bouts and the quarterfinals, beginning at 11:00 a.m. ET.
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 - 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 Harlow, Boston - Tomorrow
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 - Tomorrow
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 - Tomorrow
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 - Tomorrow
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, Indiana - 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 - 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, Pittsburegh - 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 - 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, 7-4 dec.
1. Penn State - 32.5
2. Oklahoma State - 29
3. Minnesota - 24
4. Iowa - 22
5. Oregon State - 16