UNIVERSITY PARK - It was supposed to be easy and as the dual meet unfolded, it turned out to be very easy.
Showing dominance in all three aspects of wrestling, the Penn State Nittany Lions roared their way to a 34-6 win over the West Virginia Mountaineers Sunday afternoon at Rec Hall. En route to the lopsided win, the Lions won eight of the 10 bouts, seven of them of the bonus-point variety.
"I think we are seeing improvement and right now, that is the name of the game," said PSU head coach Cael Sanderson. "These guys are doing the things we are working on in practice and that is what we like to see. When that happens, it makes it a lot of fun."
One area that had been bothering the Lion coaching staff at some weights is mat wrestling. At this point of the season, Sanderson likes what he is seeing from his troops in that area.
"A lot of that is just the attitude the individuals take when they are in that position," said Sanderson. "When a guy is a good wrestler, he can wrestle wherever he feels most comfortable, if it is on the mat or on their feet. It is just a matter of them putting a little more emphasis into it and that is what you are seeing them do."
The Lions got off to a fast start on a regular decision by Nico Megaludis and a major by Derek Reber.
Megaludis used a pair of takedowns, an escape, two penalty points and time for an 8-2 win, while Reber bounced back from a close at Lehigh (10-7) to maul Jesse Schiffbauer 12-4.
For his effort, Reber received the Ridge Riley Award for the most outstanding performance by a PSU wrestler.
"It really feels good to finally get a win here at home," said Reber. "This is just a great atmosphere to wrestle in and getting my picture taken with him was a pretty cool thing. I never had anything like that happen to me before so it was pretty neat."
It is no secret that Reber has had nagging injury problems thus far in the season, and he was quick to point out that those situations are much better now.
"The injuries are improving all the time and I am feeling a lot better," said Reber. "It is a lot better now than it was two weeks ago when it happened."
Sanderson also liked what he saw from Reber.
"He (Reber) wrestled very well today," said Sanderson. "He had great shots and the key today was that he finished them to get several takedowns. He also did a nice job on top and overall, he just wrestled a solid match. He got a major and early in the meet like that, that is a big deal to help set the tone for the other guys to follow."
Nathan Pennesi temporarily stopped the Mountaineer bleeding at 141 when he came from behind in the final 30 seconds with three back points to edge Bryan Pearsall 5-4.
Three-time All-American Frank Molinaro used four takedowns, an escape and time for a 9-1 major over George Scheffel at 149 and Dylan Alton wrestled one of his most aggressive matches of the young season by dominating Dominic Prezzia 16-4 at 157. Alton showed his ability both on the mat as well as on his feet as he "slicked" Prezzia five times en route to the win while also piling up riding time.
"Dylan Alton had about eight minutes of riding time today," quipped Sanderson. "When he does that, it opens everything up and we are real happy with that."
As for Alton's match, he was quick to agree that it might have been one of his best efforts of the season in all areas.
"Yeah, I am just trying to improve in all of the areas in every match" said Alton. "I feel like I am getting better in every position."
With the Alton win, the Lions held a comfortable 15-3 lead at the intermission.
Following the break, it was time for the David Taylor and Ed Ruth show, and the pair of sophomores didn't disappoint the crowd of 6,078 one bit.
Taylor put on a takedown clinic against Kyle Eason for a 23-7 technical fall at 165 and Ruth followed suit as he slicked Lance Bryson at will for an 18-6 major at 174. Taylor finished with nine takedowns, while Ruth was one behind his classmate with eight "slicks".
For the meet, the Lions showed their dominance in the neutral position as they held a 33-2 bulge in takedowns for the meet.
After his second loss of the season in the Lehigh meet, Quentin Wright bounced back as he turned a Matt Ryan single-leg shot into a throw and crunched Ryan for the fall 1:57 into the bout at 184. With the Wright win, the Lion lead ballooned to 30-3 with two bouts left.
"As long as he (Wright) is having fun, he is going to be tough to beat," Sanderson said. "He is capable of getting pins like that with big throws. Big throws probably aren't going to win the national tournament for him, but they could help him get back in the right frame of mind to where he can wrestle and get to where he wants to be."
The Mountaineers picked up their second win of the meet at 197 when Justin Ortega, subbing for the ailing Morgan McIntosh (knee), dropped a 3-2 verdict to Mac Mancuso before Cameron Wade demolished Brandon Williamson 11-0 at 285 to set the final.
The next action for the Lions will be Sunday when they visit Thomas Field House for a non-conference dual meet with the Bald Eagles. First whistle for that meet is set for 2 p.m.