Gingrich beats ranked opponent, PSU grapplers win

UNIVERSITY PARK – If it would have been a political election, it would have simply been labeled “no contest.”

Penn State came out with guns blazing as the Lions won the first nine bouts for a 38-0 lead before former Bald Eagle Area standout Jon Gingrich capped the shutout when he defeated Michael McClure, 5-3, for the 41-0 final.

McClure came in as the fourth-ranked 285-pounder in the nation. Gingrich’s victory marked the second time this season that he has defeated a nationally ranked wrestler. Adam Chalfant was Gingrich’s first in the Lions’ lopsided win over Indiana.

With the bout tied at 1-all, Gingrich scored a double-leg takedown on McClure that sent the Rec Hall crowd into a frenzy.

“It was a pretty crazy feeling and it reminded me a lot of the Indiana match with the explosion of cheers,” said Gingrich. “That feeling can’t be replaced with anything else because it is so amazing.”

Gingrich’s approach in his two biggest wins of his collegiate career was the same. Wear the opponent down and keep the match close until he could make his move in the final period.

“That is definitely what happened today,” said Gingrich about wearing down McClure. “It is just pushing and pulling and once I feel him getting tired, I look for my shot. One of the things I want to work on a little more is maybe faking (shots) a little more because I have to do something to keep myself from getting called for stalling. Even though I am doing work, the refs are going to start calling me for stalling because they want more offense. I need to work on that.”

As for Gingrich being in the lineup instead of Jimmy Lawson, Penn State head coach Cael Sanderson said it was determined by a wrestleoff.

“Those two have been pretty even so we just had them wrestle,” Sanderson said. “Gingrich won a close match and all of the matches between those two have been close. Based on that match, he (Gingrich) won that spot.”

As for what Gingrich’s win can do for him, Sanderson said, “it can be a big confidence booster for him and hopefully it just keeps going. The last time he was in the lineup here I believe he also beat a ranked guy so he is doing well. He is a very tough, strong, explosive athlete and for him, having success like that is real important for him. He just needs to go out there and have a good time and if he does that, he’ll do really well.”

The Lions ripped through the first five bouts for a 17-0 halftime lead.

Included in the ambush were major decisions by Nico Megaludis at 125 and Bryan Pearsall at 149, while Jordan Conaway (133), James English (149) and James Vollrath (157) all recorded regular decisions.

“They are both tough kids,” said Sanderson of English and Vollrath. “They both had tough opponents and they had to wrestle well. They had to both wrestle their match and they both did that. Both of them did a great job. Vollrath upped his offense which is good to see and I think that just comes from a desire of wanting to win. James is just a tough kid and I am very happy for him.”

Trailing 4-3 heading into the third period, Vollrath came on strong with an escape and takedown for a 6-4 win over highly-touted David Cheza.

“I knew he was getting tired,” said English. “I knew that I had that fake high-crotch to a sweep so I knew I just had to regroup myself to make one good shot in the final 20 or 30 seconds. I went back to the same move and that time, I just made sure that I finished it to get the two (points).”

Following his near-miss for a technical fall, Megaludis admitted that it was a little frustrating to come that close and not get it.

“That (staying away) is what people do when they don’t want to get teched,” Megaludis said. “I think almost every match this year people have been backing up from me. There are a few exceptions to that, but when they do that, I have to do all the work. I’ll get better at it because people did that to me in high school. Now that this is college, it is kind of a new thing.”

With Penn State up by a 17-0 spread at halftime, the Lions unleashed their big guns to rack up 24 more points for the shutout.

David Taylor mauled Nick Proctor for an 8-2 lead before decking Proctor 1:37 into their bout at 165 and Matt Brown followed with a takedown clinic on Jordan Wohlfert as he slicked Wohlfert nine times en route to a 22-7 technical fall in 6:17.

Ed Ruth did what Ed Ruth does so well at 174 when he matched teammate Taylor’s fall time with a 1:37 deck job over John Rizgallah.

Quentin Wright made it nine wins in a row at 197 when he used four takedowns, a reversal, two back points and a time advantage point for a 13-3 major decision over Luke Jones.

With the Wright win, the stage was set for Gingrich’s big win and the Lion redshirt sophomore delivered to send 6,353 PSU fans home happy.