Nittany Lions’ 20-win streak in wrestling snapped in 22-16 loss to Iowa

IOWA CITY, Iowa – Iowa used an early lead to get the best of the Nittany Lion wrestling team, which dropped its first dual meet of the year, falling 22-16 at Iowa in a sold out Carver-Hawkeye Arena Friday.

Iowa won six of 10 bouts, including three thrilling one-point decisions in the dual’s key matchups.

A rematch of last year’s 125-pound NCAA title bout was the first of the night, and Penn State sophomore Nico Megaludis, ranked No. 2, and top-ranked Iowa senior Matt McDonough did not disappoint. The duo battled to a 1-1 tie and through a sudden victory period before McDonough was able to ride Megaludis out and then escape in his tie-breaker period for a thrilling 2-1 win.

Tony Ramos, ranked No. 3 at 133, then pinned Lion freshman Jordan Conaway, handing Conaway his first dual-meet loss, to put Iowa up 9-0 early. Iowa’s Matt Ballweg, ranked No. 8 at 141, then posted a 12-2 major over Lion senior Bryan Pearsall to give Iowa a 13-0 lead.

Penn State sophomore Andrew Alton, ranked No. 8 at 149, put Penn State on the board with a sound 18-8 major decision over Iowa’s Brody Grothus. Then, in another epic rematch of a key NCAA bout from a year ago, Nittany Lion All-American Dylan Alton, ranked No. 5 at 157, took on No. 1 Derek St. John. As with the 125-pound bout, the All-American duo offered plenty of excitement. Alton took a lead midway through the second period and carried that lead into the third. Alton looked to increase his lead late in the bout, but St. John was able to counter and get a late takedown to post a thrilling 4-3 win.

The victory, Iowa’s fourth in the first five, put the Hawkeyes up 16-4 at intermission.

The second half began with a bang for Penn State as All-American David Taylor, No. 2 at 165, dominated No. 13 Nick Moore. Taylor turned Moore three times in the first period alone and rolled to an 18-2 technical fall at the 6:42 mark.

Then Iowa won a third epic battle by a single point. This time, No. 6 Mike Evans used a late third period counter takedown to down No. 4 Matt Brown in a thriller at 174, putting the Hawkeyes up 19-9 with only three bouts left.

All-American Ed Ruth, the No. 1 wrestler at 184, remained undefeated on the year with a dominating 21-10 major over Iowa’s Grant Gambrall. All-American Quentin Wright, ranked No. 3 at 197, then pulled Penn State to within striking distance, picking up an 8-3 win over Nathan Burak to cut the Iowa lead to 19-16.

But in the dual’s final bout, No. 6 Bobby Telford of Iowa stopped Penn State’s comeback short with a 9-2 win over heavyweight Jon Gingrich.

Penn State owned a 22-13 lead in takedowns.

The Nittany Lions now move on to Champaign, Ill., and a date with No. 8 Illinois on Sunday at 2 p.m. Penn State’s only remaining dual meet is Feb. 17, when Rider visits Rec Hall.