Penn State grapplers clinch fourth straight title

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – The great dynasties in sports history have had a common theme. Most have featured a core group of building blocks upon which the success was built.

For the Penn State wrestling team, fresh off its fourth straight title Saturday at the 2014 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships at Chesapeake Energy Center, those building blocks were seniors David Taylor and Ed Ruth.

Both men share a similar trait – unrivaled, historical talent.

“I think anyone that’s watched David Taylor or Ed Ruth wrestle is an instant wrestling fan. Those guys are fun to watch. Their motion is nonstop. They’re fluid and they’re tough and they wrestle with passion and fire. They’re fun to watch,” Penn State coach Cael Sanderson said.

“They’re the guys if you need heroes. You need guys like that to build the sport. They’ve done that. To finish it off the way they did is pretty amazing. Yeah, we’re going to miss them, obviously, but I couldn’t be more happy for them.”

Taylor and Ruth will not only go down as two of the best wrestlers in Penn State history, but also in the history of college wrestling.

The two finished their careers with a combined 270-6 record, with 99 pins and 229 bonus-point wins. They became just the seventh and eighth four-time All-Americans in school history, joining Greg Elinsky, Jim Martin, Sanshiro Abe, Phil Davis, Frank Molinaro and Quentin Wright.

Taylor, who won the 165-pound championship, is Penn State’s first four-time finalist and only the 15th in NCAA history since freshmen became eligible to compete in 1970. He is tied with Josh Moore atop the all-time program pins list with 53. He ended this season 34-0 and his career 134-3. He scored bonus-point wins in 125 of his 134 career wins, an amazing 91 percent.

“Well, I think anytime you’re talking the greats of college wrestling, his name is going to be mentioned. No question about that. I’m not a historian or anything like that, but I wouldn’t take anybody else on my team in the history of college wrestling over David Taylor,” Sanderson said. “It’s just the passion and the love and obviously the skill and everything that comes with him.”

Ruth became Penn State’s first three-time champion. Only an injury default in the quarterfinals during the 2011 tournament prevented him from possibly joining the pantheon of four-time champions.

He ended his season with a 34-1 record and his career with a 136-3 mark. He scored bonus points in 105 of 139 career matches, a phenomenal 76 percent.

“Ed came back and said – after he won and we thought there’s a good chance we were going to win, we hadn’t won yet, but he said, ‘you know, thinking or knowing we’re going to win as a team feels better than me winning my third national championship.’ That’s just Ed Ruth. He’s pretty special,” Sanderson said.

Ruth said he feels the same way about Taylor.

“I love David. He’s a respected wrestler. I’d like to say the same for myself. Being able to wrestle in the same time as him is big,” Ruth said.

“People who can say they wrestled in the time of Brent Metcalf, Jordan Burroughs … I can say I wrestled in the time of David Taylor, Andrew Howe, Chris Perry, Kyle Dake. It’s just a big honor,” he said.

Full coverage of the 2014 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships begins on page B1 of today’s edition.