OKLAHOMA CITY -- Penn State continues to hold its lead after the third session of the 2014 NCAA Wrestling Championships, but Minnesota and Oklahoma State are tight on the Nittany Lions' tail.
With four wrestlers -- 125-pound Nico Megaludis, 141-pound Zain Retherford, 165-pound David Taylor and 184-pound Ed Ruth, all of whom have earned All-America honors -- set to compete in the semifinals, which air live on ESPN Friday night at 8:00, Penn State has the opportunity to build on its lead during Session IV. 149-pound James English, 174-pound Matt Brown and 197-pound Morgan McIntosh are also still alive in the consolation round and one bout away from All-America honors.
Despite the close team race, the match of the night comes at 184 pounds. Superstar senior Ruth will square off against Cornell's Gabe Dean, who handed Ruth his only defeat of the past three seasons at the Southern Scuffle this past January. Although the team title race is tight and at the forefront of many fans' minds, Ruth said he has to shift his focus inward and worry only about his upcoming bout vs. Dean. That, he added, will help the team in the long run.
"It's close," Ruth said about the team race. Then he hesitated briefly. "But I try not to pay attention to it. I just try to do what I can do."
Ruth pinned Dean, a redshirt freshman, in 1:24 during their first meeting in November, so what does the returning NCAA champ have to do in order to win the critical rubber match? Said Ruth, "I have to do the same thing as always -- just wrestle hard."
Dean earned his way into the semifinal with a dominating 11-4 win over Boise State's Jacob Swartz. Ruth, meanwhile, qualified for the semifinal with a solid 10-2 major decision over longtime rival Kevin Steinhaus of Minnesota.
Following the match, Ruth expressed his respect for Steinhaus, against whom he holds a 3-0 all-time record.
"He's good every single time we wrestle," an out-of-breath Ruth added. "Strong kid, solid wrestler. He's not going to do anything flashy. It's just, he's tough to open up (against). It's just his strength. He's a real good wrestler, great person, too."
With the win, Ruth became PSU's eighth four-time All-American. Two weight classes prior to his win, Taylor became Penn State's seventh four-timer.
Taylor's All-America win over Michael Moreno of Iowa State came by fall in 1:19 and made even more history: Taylor is now tied for the program's all-time record of 53 falls, tying Josh Moore (2001-04).
Penn State wrestlers Jimmy Gulibon (133), Dylan Alton (157) and Jon Gingrich (285) all suffered defeat during Session III and have exited the tournament.
While PSU has seven wrestlers still alive, Minnesota has eight (four in the semifinals; four in the consolations) and Oklahoma State has seven (four in the semis; three in the consolations).
125: No. 3 Nico Megaludis
- over Darian Cruz (Lehigh), 18-3 TF
- over No. 14 Ed Klimara (Oklahoma State), 6-0
- over Jarrod Patterson (Oklahoma), 6-0
Next match: No. 2 Nahshon Garrett (Cornell)
133: Jimmy Gulibon
- defeated by No. 4 Jonathon Morrison (Oklahoma State), 4-0
- over Vincent Pizzuto (EMU), 10-2 MD
- defeated by No. 14 Zane Richards (Illinois), 4-3
141: No. 3 Zain Retherford
- over Ugi Khishignyam (Citadel), 5-0
- over No. 14 Edgar Bright (Pitt), 3-0
- over No. 11 Joey Lazor (UNI), 5-2
Next match: No. 2 Logan Stieber (Ohio State)
149: James English
- over No. 12 Dyllan Cottrell (App State), 5-4 (OT)
- defeated by No. 5 Jason Tsirtsis (Northwestern), 4-3
- over Christian Barber (UNC), 3-1
- over Rylan Nubeck, 4-3 OT
Next match: No. 10 Zach Neibert (Virginia Tech)
157: No. 13 Dylan Alton
- over Brian Murphy (Mich), 5-1
- defeated by No. 4 Ian Miller (Kent State), 4-1
- over Immanuel Kerr-Brown (Duke), 5-2
- defeated by Luke Smith (Central Michigan), 4-2 (OT)
165: No. 1 David Taylor
- pins Joe Brewster (SDSU), 2:58
- pins No. 16 Jim Wilson (Stanford), 6:55
- pins No. 8 Michael Moreno (Iowa State), 1:19
Next match: No. 4 Steven Monk (NDSU)
174: No. 5 Matt Brown
- over Kyle Meyer (Stanford), 17-4 MD
- over No. 12 Tanner Weatherman (Iowa State), 6-1
- defeated by No. 4 Mike Evans (Iowa), 5-4 OT
Next match: No. 16 Matt Miller (Navy)
184: No. 2 Ed Ruth
- pins Jackson Hein (Wisconsin), 1:59
- over Lazarus Reyes (Illinois), 15-0 TF
- over No. 7 Kevin Steinhaus (Minnesota), 10-2 MD
Next match: No. 3 Gabe Dean (Cornell)
197: No. 3 Morgan McIntosh
- over John Bolich (Lehigh), 5-0
- defeated by No. 14 Chris Penny (Virginia Tech), 3-2
- over No. 13 Dan Mitchell (American), 15-7 MD
Next match: Cody Reed (Binghamton)
285: No. 14 Jon Gingrich
- over David Devine (SIUE), 12-4 MD
- over No. 3 Adam Chalfant (Indiana), 5-2
- pinned by Ross Larson (Oklahoma), 2:03
Session III Team Scores
1. Penn State - 61.0
2. Minnesota - 59.0
3. Oklahoma State - 56.0
4. Iowa - 42.5
5. Cornell - 39.5
6. Ohio State - 38.0
T-7. Edinboro/Virginia Tech - 30.5
T-9. Illinois/Oklahoma - 30.0