Penn State romps to end home season

UNIVERSITY PARK – On paper, it was a mismatch of major proportions. On the Rec Hall mats Sunday afternoon, it turned out to be even more than that.

Closing out the dual meet season by hosting Rider University, the top-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions mauled the Broncs to the tune of 48-0 before a Senior Day crowd of more than 6,500 happy PSU fans.

As for the seniors, Lion head coach Cael Sanderson was quick to point their contributions to the program over the past four or five years. Two of the seniors the Lion fans big farewell to were Bryan Pearsall (141) and hometown favorite from Wingate, Quentin Wright (197).

“They are the ones who got all of this started for us here,” Sanderson said. “They are the ones who bought into the system and it is huge to have those guys on board and they did a great job. Senior night is always tough, you know, because people are going to say, hey I am not going to see Quentin Wright wrestle in Rec Hall again and that is a bummer. And we aren’t going to see Pearsall wrestle here again, but it is a celebration of their careers and we are very happy for them.”

In his final appearance in Rec Hall, Pearsall brought the crowd to its feet when he hooked up and decked Rob Cigna with a cradle at the 2:01 mark of the first period.

“I would have liked to have gotten some more mat time, but I got the fall,” Pearsall said. “I was looking for an opening, I saw the opening to hook it up and I took advantage of it. As for having wrestled in this building for the last time, I don’t think it has sunk in on me 100 hundred percent yet, but I was proud to have the opportunity to personally acknowledge the fans for their support.”

As for Wright, he didn’t join the pin parade, but the former Bald Eagle Area standout and three-time All-American treated the fans to one of his customary wins as he methodically hammered Donald McNeil for a 12-4 major decision.

“I’m really blessed to have had the fan support I’ve had here,” Wright said. “I have also been blessed to have had the teammates and coaching staff I had for the past four or five years. All of those things put together have made it a dream come true for me.”

The dual meet was like a picnic in February as the Lions feasted on the Broncs from start to finish. They compiled a 30-1 margin in takedowns and had five falls and three major decisions for eight bonus point wins.

As for setting the table, Nico Megaludis did that at 125 when he toyed with freshman Patrick Skinner for six takedowns before decking Skinner at 3:48 of their match.

Jordan Conaway continued his fine wrestling as the freshman manhandled Mike Schupin for a 19-5 major decision before Pearsall did his thing against Cigna.

Next in the serving line were the Alton twins, and although neither joined in the pin parade, both won matches while in complete control.

Andrew used four takedowns, a pair of back points, an escape and 2:41 riding time for a 12-4 major decision, while Dylan rode a 4-1 first period lead to a 5-2 decision over Zac Cibula.

“I think he had a tough opponent who did a real nice job getting his hands off him,” Sanderson said of Dylan’s opponent. “(Alton) did what he had to do to be able to hit some nice shots and don’t forget that Rider had some good kids in there as well. Maybe the score didn’t look that good, but Dylan wrestled one of their better kids tough.”

With the table setters picking up the five wins, the Nittany Lions held a comfortable 23-0 lead at halftime.

Taking a cue from their lighter weights, the top five Lions cleaned off the table as David Taylor, Matt Brown and Ed Ruth all recorded falls. Taylor nailed Ramon Santiago in 3:48 at 165, Brown manhandled James Brundage for his deck job in 4:06 and Ruth played games with freshman Ryan Wolfe before he registered his fall in 2:38 of the opening period.

Wright kept the ball rolling for the Lions with his major at 197 and Jimmy Lawson used a third-period reversal and time as he tossed a 3-0 shutout at Greg Velasco.

With the results, Ruth (24-0) and Wright (23-0) remain undefeated on the year, while Taylor’s only loss is a one-point setback to three-time NCAA champion Kyle Dake of Cornell.

The shutout was Penn State’s fourth of the year, marking the first time in PSU history that the Lions have posted four shutouts in the same season. The shutout was the eighth under Sanderson in his four years at Penn State.

With the result, Penn State moves to 12-1 with the loss coming at the hands of Iowa, while the devastating loss drops Rider to 10-7 overall.