ITHACA, N.Y. -- With sophomore Nahshon Garrett already having claimed a Southern Scuffle crown at 125 pounds with a win over Penn State's Nico Megaludis, freshman Gabe Dean figured he'd need to do something impressive to get noticed.
Boy, did he ever.
Dean set the wrestling world and all of social media on fire with an impressive 7-4 decision over top-ranked Ed Ruth in the 184-pound final, knocking off the two-time defending national champion and ending his personal 84-match win streak dating back to 2011. It was only Ruth's third career loss (now 118-3). Entering the finals, he had won each of his 16 matches this year by at least a major decision with six pins.
Dean went right after Ruth from the opening whistle. Had a near takedown on a deep shot, followed up by another deep single that he was able to finish for a 2-0 lead. Ruth got a takedown but Gabe escaped. Ruth ended up with a ride time advantage before Dean could escape in the second, but Dean rode strong to start the third and got Ruth's ride time under a minute. The Nittany Lion was able to escape to get within one and with everyone in the building expecting a Ruth takedown to get the lead, Dean remained the aggressor and took down Ruth for a 7-4 lead that ended up being the final.
Dean advanced to the finals at 184 pounds by knocking off Minnesota's top two wrestlers at the weight, earning a 6-1 decision over Brett Pfarr and then knocking off fourth-ranked Kevin Steinhaus by a 3-2 margin to get an opportunity to face Ruth in the finals. The win over Steinhaus alone was enough to get the attention of many for the seventh-ranked wrestler in the nation and earn him the tournament's Most Outstanding Wrestler Award.
Cornell finished fourth as a team for the second year in a row thanks to its 114.5 team points and captured its 10th top four finish in the tournament in its 10 appearances dating back to 2004. The Big Red finished behind Penn State (189), Oklahoma State (164.5) and Minnesota (161) in the team race while holding off Missouri, Virginia, Iowa State and others in the 34-school field.
Garrett grinded out a 7-3 semifinal victory over No. 14 David Terao of American, one of his top competitors in the EIWA. He overcame an early takedown by the sophomore to comfortably rally to set up a rematch of the finals of the 2013 Binghamton Open, where Garrett earned a 6-5 decision. His win in the No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup was a typical Garrett-type win, as the sophomore took down Megaludis late in the first period and rode him out to take a 2-0 lead. He escaped from the down position and earned another takedown to head into the final period up 5-1, then held on late for the 6-4 decision to retain his top ranking.
Chris Villalonga won his quarterfinal matchup against Penn State's Zach Beitz by a 3-1 score before medially forfeiting out of the tournament in sixth place at 149 pounds.
At 157 pounds, freshman Brian Realbuto pinned No. 13 RJ Pena of Oregon State in the second period before dropping narrow decisions to No. 2 Alex Dieringer of Oklahoma State and 14th-ranked Nestor Taffur of Boston University.
Dylan Palacio continued an excellent tournament with a pair of wins over Ohio's Harrison Hightower and Navy's Peyton Walsh after falling in the quarterfinals to defending national runner-up and top-ranked David Taylor at Penn State at 165 pounds. He forfeited out to sixth place and finished the tournament with a 5-1 record.
Jace Bennett won his way back to seventh place after dropping an early decision, going unbeaten against four unranked opponents and dropping matchups with No. 3 Morgan McIntosh (Penn State) and No. 15 Blake Rosholt (Oklahoma State).
Cornell returns to dual meet action when the Big Red meets No. 20 Lehigh on Sunday, Jan. 12 at 2 p.m. at Newman Arena.