The Penn State Nittany Lion wrestling team, ranked No. 5 nationally, finds itself in first place after the first day of the 2012 Southern Scuffle in Chattanooga, Tenn., thanks in large part to an explosion of bonus point wins. The Nittany Lions notched 32 bonus point wins (including 16 pins) and leads No. 3 Minnesota by nine points and senior Frank Molinaro (Barnegat, N.J.) notched his 100th career win in the process.
Penn State sent 15 wrestlers into action at the Scuffle with two at 141, 157, 165, 174 and 285. The top scoring wrestler at each weight class is calculated into the score, so a `starting line-up' is not designated per se. Ten of Penn State's 15 wrestlers advanced to the quarterfinals with the team rolling up bonus points in the process. In the quarters, the Nittany Lions went 9-1
Three-time All-American Frank Molinaro (Barnegat, N.J.), ranked No. 1 at 149, went 3-0 on the day with two technical falls to advance to tomorrow morning's semifinals. Molinaro first win was the 100th of his career, making the Nittany Lion the latest to join Penn State's 100-win club. Red-shirt freshman Dylan Alton (Mill Hall, Pa.) was perfect at 157, going 3-0 to advance to the semifinals with two pins and a major. Sophomore James Vollrath (Richboro, Pa.) also advanced to the semis at 157, going 3-0 with a major and a 5-4 win over No. 20 Drake Houdashelt of Missouri in the quarterfinals.
Top-ranked All-American David Taylor (St. Paris, Ohio), ranked No. 1 at 165, continued his undefeated roll through his season by going 3-0 to advance to the semis. Taylor, who won the Scuffle title at 157 last year, used got two pins and a tech fall. All-American sophomore Ed Ruth (Harrisburg, Pa.), ranked No. 2 at 174, was outstanding at 174 as well, going 4-0 with three pins and a tech fall to move to the semifinals. Red-shirt freshman Matt Brown (West Valley City, Utah) also advanced to the semis at 174, thrilling the Lion faithful with a resounding 6-3 win over No. 7 Dorian Henderson of Missouri in the quarterfinals. Brown's 3-0 mark included two pins.
Defending national champion Quentin Wright (Wingate, Pa.), ranked No. 5 at 184, pinned No. 17 Mike Larson of Missouri in the quarterfinals to move into the semis, going 3-0 on the day as well. True freshman Morgan McIntosh (Santa Ana, Calif.), ranked No. 11 at 197, was 3-0 and moved to the semifinals. McIntosh notched two falls. Senior Cameron Wade (Twinsburg, Ohio) was perfect at heavyweight as well. Wade, ranked No. 8, went 3-0 with two techs and a pin to move into the semifinals.
True freshman Nico Megaludis (Murrysville, Pa.), ranked No. 13 at 125, started the tournament 2-0 with a technical fall and a major before suffering a 9-3 loss to No. 7 Frank Perrelli of Cornell in the quarterfinals. Megaludis is 2-1 and is set for consolation action tomorrow morning. His was Penn State's lone quarterfinal loss as the Nittany Lions posted a 9-1 mark.
Junior Bryan Pearsall (Lititz, Pa.) got a pin in the first round at 141, lost a tough match in round two. He rebounded for a big consolation win and is 2-1 through day one of the tournament. He continues into consolation action tomorrow morning. Red-shirt freshman Seth Beitz (Juniata, Pa.) had a solid first day at 141, going 2-2 before being eliminated. Junior Nick Fischer (Unionville, Pa.) also picked up wins for Penn State at 165, posting a 2-2 mark before being eliminated. Red-shirt freshman Jon Gingrich (Wingate, Pa.) got a major in his first match at 285 before dropping a close 5-3 decision in round two. Gingrich then posted two straight majors in consolations, went 3-1 on the day and is set for tomorrow mornings wrestle-backs. At 133, Nittany Lion junior Derek Reber (Lewisburg, Pa.) went 0-2 on the day.
Penn State is in first place in the team race with 119.5 points, just ahead of second place Minnesota, who has 110.5. Missouri is in third with 82.0, Cornell in fourth with 80.5 and Oregon State in fifth with 66.5. The Nittany Lions first day totals are, in terms of bonus points, stunning. Penn State went 41-9 over the course of day one with 16 pins, eight technical falls and eight majors, meaning 32 of Penn State's 41 wins were of the bonus point variety. Also of note, all nine of Penn State's losses were by decision only.
Penn State continues action in the Southern Scuffle beginning tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. Penn State's next home dual is on Sunday, Jan. 22, when Iowa invades Rec Hall for a 2 p.m. dual that is already sold out. The Nittany Lions then host Ohio State on Sunday, Jan. 29, at 2 p.m. Fans can purchase a limited number of `standing room only' tickets for the Ohio State dual by calling 814-865-5555. Tickets are priced at $8 for adults and $5 for youth (18 and under) and can be purchased from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day or in person at the Bryce Jordan Center box office. A maximum of four tickets may be purchased per person.
The full season slate of live dual meet and tournament action will air locally on WRSC AM (1390 AM) with Friday evening duals being simulcast on WRSC FM (103.1 FM). Lock Haven's WBPZ (1230 AM) will also carry the entire season live, WIEZ (670 AM) in Huntingdon/Lewistown carries all Sunday events and further affiliates may be added soon. The regular season schedule of radio broadcasts will be streamed live at www.GoPSUsports.com as part of Penn State's All-Access package, which will also feature live video streams of many home events. Ticket information is accessed easily online at www.GoPSUsports.com/tickets/m-wrestl-tickets.html . Fans are encouraged to follow Penn State wrestling via twitter at www.twitter.com/pennstatepat and on Penn State Wrestling's facebook page at www.facebook.com/pennstatewrestling. The 2011-12 Penn State Wrestling season is presented by The Family Clothesline.
2012 SOUTHERN SCUFFLE TOP FIVE TEAM STANDINGS AFTER DAY ONE:
1: PENN STATE - 119.5
2: Minnesota - 110.5
3: Missouri - 82.0
4: Cornell - 80.0
5: Oregon State - 66.5