Alton brothers return, Penn State tops Nebraska
UNIVERSITY PARK – It was business as usual Sunday afternoon at Penn State’s Rec Hall as the Nittany Lion wrestlers rolled out the red carpet to the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
Once again, the Nittany Lions held a Big Ten opponent to less than 10 points as they demolished the Cornhuskers, 33-9, before a season-high crowd of 6,618.
Highlighting the meet from the local level was the return of Andrew and Dylan Alton to the lineup. As the meet unfolded, there turned out to be some bad news as well as good news.
After Nico Megaludis was awarded a forfeit win at 125 and Jordan Conaway (133) and Bryan Pearsall (141) picked up decisions, Andrew was up to make his return.
Starting out strong, Andrew went on top of Jake Sueflohn by a 4-0 count with a takedown and two back points, Sueflohn escaping for a 4-1 Alton lead after one period.
Alton escaped to stretch his lead to begin the middle period, but Sueflohn countered Alton’s shot for a takedown and picked up a stalling penalty for a 5-4 Alton lead after two periods.
Starting from the bottom, Sueflohn reversed Alton to begin the third period and in a scramble, put Alton on his back for the fall at the 5:33 mark of their bout.
“Yeah, Andrew wasn’t himself and why that is we’ll figure it out,” Penn State coach Cael Sanderson said. “A lot of it is making the decision that you are ready and focused to get back to where he wants to be. He can do that in the snap of his fingers or it might take a few matches. He is in good shape, trains hard, so it is just a matter of making that decision go out there and enjoy yourself, but he wasn’t all there tonight.”
On the heels of his brother’s first loss of the season, Dylan brought some good news when he battled fourth-ranked James Green for a 3-1 win.
With the bout tied at 1-all in the third period, Dylan made one final shot and it was a good one as he took Green to the mat for the takedown and the 3-1 win.
Earlier in the bout, Alton thought he might have had Green on his back for a two-count, but the official saw the situation differently.
“Yeah, I thought I had him long enough for the count, but either way you have to keep on wrestling. Whether I got it or didn’t get it, right now it doesn’t really matter,” Alton said.
As for his winning takedown, Alton felt that it was a matter of hustling and staying with his initial shot.
“I shot and I re-shot, and on the re-shot I was able to get the angle I wanted,” Alton explained. “From there it was simply going behind and getting his legs for the takedown. I have been training hard the last month, moving forward and working toward my goal of being a national champion. I was excited to be back in the lineup.”
Sanderson liked what he saw from Alton on his return to the lineup.
“Dylan knew he had a big match,” said Sanderson. “He did a great job conditioning and that is something he’s learning to use in his advantage, something he’s worked on and getting better at. He has a tough opponent and as a result, he rightfully won the Ridge Riley Award as the most outstanding Penn State wrestler in the meet.”
With Dylan’s win, the Lions went to the halftime break sporting a 16-6 lead, and after that, it again was pretty much all Penn State as the Lions won four of the final five bouts.
David Taylor was again dominant at 165, as the defending NCAA champion toyed with Tyler Koehn for a 16-1 technical fall in 5:09.
Matt Brown became the second Lion casualty of the day at 174 when he dropped a 10-7 decision to fourth-ranked Robert Kokesh. With the Brown loss, the Penn State lead stood at 21-9 and the Lions finished strong with wins in the final three bouts to set the final.
Like Taylor, Ed Ruth was just being himself as the defending NCAA champion edged Josh Ihnen with an 18-3 technical fall. Turning it on in the third period, Ruth worked Ihnen to his back for three sets of back points while in control, but from the standing position.
“Guys usually always stand up if I can catch an arm, I feel comfortable sitting behind their legs,” said Ruth. “If I can catch the wrist it works well, but some guys are starting to guard against it.”
With two bouts left on the card, Quentin Wright and Jon Gingrich put the lid on the Penn State victory. Wright majored Caleb Kolb 10-2 at 197 before Gingrich used a pair of takedowns, two escapes and time for his 7-4 win over Spencer Johnson.
It was Wright’s next to last appearance in Rec Hall, as the senior only has one home dual meet remaining.
“Right now it feels super weird,” Wright said. It probably won’t hit me until after the season or maybe not until next year. Next year when I am no longer wrestling in Rec Hall I’m sure it will really hit me.”
Following the win over the Cornhuskers, the Lions will now face the “meat” of their schedule as they make trips to Iowa, Illinois, Pitt and Ohio State before returning to Rec Hall for a dual meet with Rider.