Wright gets 100th win, Penn State wrestling takes Big Ten finale over Wisconsin
UNIVERSITY PARK The Big Ten wrestling final from Rec Hall Friday night was Penn State 36, Wisconsin 6, but that was only part of the story.
With the meet starting at 285, that meant that former BEA standout Quentin Wright would close down the meet at 197 before 6,515 PSU faithful.
With the Lion victory already secured and only the final score to be determined, Wright wasted no time at all as he scored a takedown on Jackson Hein and decked Hein at 1:24 of the opening period to bring the crowd of 6,515 faithful to their feet.
For Wright, the victory was the 100th of his outstanding career as a Nittany Lion grappler. When asked about getting the job done early in the bout, Wright said, “The opportunity was there so I took it. That was fun.”
As for what it meant to him to reach the goal in front of a home crowd, Wright felt it was just great to be able to do it in front of fans that have been there with him all of his wrestling life.
“I was looking at it earlier and trying to calculate it out,” said Wright. “I didn’t think I was going to get it in front of the home until Pat (PSU SID Donghia) told me that I had 99 going into the meet. It kind of surprised me that it was going to be one hundred and that was important to me to be able to do that because they have been here with me all four years. It is just great to be able to achieve moments with your family.”
So other than getting one hundred wins, what else does it mean to Wright to reach that plateau.
“It means a lot to me to be able to give something back to the community and the people around me,” he said. “Being a local kid, everybody gets to hear and see everything you say and do. It is not like you are away and doing something in front of people you don’t know and they don’t know you. These people have been here for me ever since I started wrestling when I was six or seven so they have known me my whole life. You just get to have a lot of relationships with a bunch of people so it sort of becomes like a family. It is nice that they are for you whether you win or lose.”
PSU head coach Cael Sanderson had some good things to say about Wright’s contribution to the Nittany Lion success over the past four years.
“I think that (winning 100 matches) was sort of a given,” said Sanderson. “He is looking to be a two-time national champion and a four-time All American and this is just one of the steps along the way. It is exciting to celebrate that, but I don’t think he came here (to Penn State) to get into the 100-win club, but it is nice.”
The Badgers took the initial lead in the meet that started at 285 when 11th ranked Conor Medbery doubled up on Jon Gingrich for a 6-3 win.
Facing the 3-point deficit, the Lions came roaring back to take the next three bouts for a 13-3 lead and they never looked back.
At 125, Nico Megaludis was just being Nico as he conducted a takedown clinic on Matt Cavallaris that led to a 22-7 match termination win. Megaludis tallied nine takedowns and accumulated four minutes of time advantage for his lopsided win.
Jordan Conaway wrestled the match of his young Penn State life at 133 when he took third-ranked Tyler Graff to overtime before getting the bout-winner 36 seconds in to the extra period.
“It is just a crazy feeling, especially here in Rec Hall with all of the fans screaming,” said the Lion freshman. “Going into the third period I was down 7-3 so I knew I had some work to do. I could feel him slowing down a little so I knew he was getting tired. I just kept the pressure on him and that wore him out even more. I knew if I did that it would make it easier to get that (winning) takedown.”
At 141, Bryan Pearsall was all over Tom Kelliher for a takedown and three back points before decking Kelliher at 1:22 of the opening period.
Wisconsin got on the board for the second and final time at 149 when Badger Cole Schmitt and Penn State’s James English danced to a 2-2 deadlock in regulation before Schmitt came alive in the second overtime for an 8-4 sudden death win in the second overtime period.
Following halftime, it was all Penn State as the Lions swept the final five bouts to the set the final.
James Vollrath held off a late surge by Kalvin York for a 5-3 win at 157 before David Taylor mauled Frank Cousins for a 25-7 technical fall at 165.
Matt Brown made it three wins in a row with a 12-7 win over Scott Liegel and Ed Ruth picked up a forfeit win at 184 to set up Wright’s finale.