STATE COLLEGE - As the saying goes, if it isn't broken, don't try to fix it.
Sunday afternoon, the Penn State Nittany Lion wrestling team trailed Michigan after three bouts. For the third meet in a row, the Lions promptly went on a winning streak that saw them win the final seven bouts of the dual meet as they crushed the Wolverines, 34-7, at Rec Hall.
"I think all the guys are wrestling really well," Penn State coach Cael Sanderson said. "That (Michigan) is a good team there and they give you a lot of tough matchups throughout the lineup. The guys went out there and did what they needed to do. We were down at one point, but Frank (Molinaro) got a big win for us against a kid who wrestled in the Big 10 finals last year and that kind of got things going for us."
As for where his Lions are now at this point in the season, Sanderson feels the Lions are right on track.
"Yeah, I can't complain," Sanderson said of the status of his squad. "There are always things you can work on. We are looking more at just the attitude level right now because if the attitude is good, everything else can be ironed out."
As he has done in most of the Lions matches, Nico Megaludis proved to be the igniter as he got the Lions off and running by putting on a takedown clinic, the true freshman slicking Grant Pizzo no fewer than 10 times for a 22-10 major decision.
"I guess it was just something that developed through the match," Megaludis said. "You want to score as many takedowns as you can in any match and today I felt they were there so I just tried to take them. I wasn't able to turn him, so I wanted to get as many points as I could on my feet."
The Wolverines took their only lead of the afternoon as they picked up a pair of wins at 133 and 141.
Zac Stevens held off a late rally by Frank Martolletti for an 11-7 win at 133, and at 141, defending NCAA champion Kellen Russell was simply too much for Bryan Pearsall as Russell majored Pearsall 12-2 to put the Wolverines up 7-4.
Molinaro (141) knotted the score at seven when he overcame the stalling tactics of Eric Grajales for a solid 6-1 win, then Dylan Alton made a pair of takedowns and an escape stand up for a 5-4 win over Brandon Zeerip.
With the Alton win, the Lions went on top 10-7 and they never looked back.
Holding onto the three-point lead, the Lions, as they have done so many times this season, put things in high gear to win the final five bouts to complete the rout.
David Taylor mauled Dan Yates for a 15-0 technical fall at 165 and Ed Ruth and Quentin Wright followed Taylor's effort with big wins.
Ruth turned it on to score seven points in the third period en route to a 12-1 major decision over Justin Zeerip at 174 and Wright hit one of his favorite left-handed headlocks for a fall in 3:22 over Hunter Collins at 184.
"I am always looking for a way to score and I just need the confidence to just hit it," Wright said. "A lot of times I hold myself back about hitting it when I should just be going for it. When I realize that it is there, I should just go for it and that is kind of what I did today."
For the second match in a row, Matt Brown weighed in at 174 and bumped up to wrestle at 197. In both cases, the freshman pulled out exciting victories as he won 2-1 in overtime against Nebraska before securing a takedown with six seconds left in regulation for a 3-1 win over Wolverine Max Huntley.
"I wouldn't say that I had any feelings of apprehension about it," Brown said of wrestling much bigger opponents. "The one time you notice it (weight difference) is when you get in on a shot. What you have to do is what the coaches tell us and that is work his head. It was kind of awesome (crowd reaction to the winning takedown) because it was the first time I wrestled here before a big crowd at Rec Hall. It was just great."
Continuing to look stronger each time out, Cameron Wade, as he has done so many times, put the lid on the Lion victory when he led Ben Apland 8-0 after one period before he decked Apland 58 seconds into the second period to set the final.