PSU mat men roll past Panthers

PITTSBURGH – Penn State’s Quentin Wright has pinned opponents in about as many ways as you could imagine in his Nittany Lion career.

Friday night in Pitt’s Fitzgerald Field House, the senior 197-pounder deployed a new technique to score his 35th career fall and move into second place on the all-time list.

No. 3 Penn State (10-1, 6-1 Big Ten) won eight of 10 bouts and piled up a 26-5 edge in takedowns to pound No. 15 Pitt (8-5), 31-7 in front of 3,247 fans in a sold-out house.

The match of the night came at 197, after the dual meet had been decided, where No. 3 Wright took on No. 2 Matt Wilps.

The Panther scored the initial takedown, but Wright escaped and was in on a takedown when a scramble ensued. With Wilps draped over Wright’s back, Wright shifted his hips and caught Wilps on his back. Wright threw on a figure four on Wilps’ head and got the fall in 2:43.

“We just worked on leg takedowns this week and it was just a position that we got beat on at Iowa. We were working on attacks this week so I had a little better idea what to do. It just happened that I rolled through the correct way and then (we’re messing) around. The next thing I know I felt him on his back. I didn’t know if it was legal but I figure-foured his head because he was on his back and tried to get the pin,” Wright recounted.

“I’ve never pinned anybody ever like that. It’s not like you practice it, but you know that it’s there. You know about it. It’s something that very rarely ever happens.”

So rare that teammate Ed Ruth had never seen that particular move.

“I’ve seen Quentin do some real funky stuff before. I’m not surprised every time he pulls something different,” Ruth said. “He just gets a pin out of nowhere. That’s just Quentin’s style. He’s the only person I’ve ever seen do that.”

Penn State associate coach Cody Sanderson said he was glad to see Wright overcome the slow start.

“Quentin was a little flat-footed to start, just didn’t look engaged but once he got scored on it’s like it snapped; he came alive and started wrestling well,” Sanderson said.

“The way they scrambled to it isn’t normally a position that you see. But once you establish control, the figure four is okay. From where I was I couldn’t see when he got it but the referee was on top of it.”

The Panthers sent a lineup on the mat that featured five ranked wrestlers but only one won. As has been the case in all but one dual meet this season, Penn State dominated.

“I think our guys wrestled well. We’ve had the third match of four matches on the road and we were worried that it might be a little tiring for the guys but we wrestled fine. I think they were aggressive and for the most part they were going out there to score points,” Sanderson said.

No. 2 165-pounder David Taylor (20-6) and No.1 184-pounder Ruth (17-3) rolled up major decisions.

Freshman 133-pounder Jordan Conaway pulled off yet another upset, this time 5-3 in sudden victory over No. 12 Shelton Mack.

No. 7 149-pounder Andrew Alton (14-7), No. 5 157-pounder Dylan Alton (7-3) and No. 6 174-pounder Matt Brown (10-4) all won by decision.

Despite having “several hundred” friends and family in the stands, Murrysville native Nico Megaludis, ranked No. 2 at 125, had to accept a forfeit.

The only matches that Pitt won were at weights where Penn State had backups in the lineup. Derek Reber subbed for Bryan Pearsall, who Sanderson said was “a little dinged up” and Jimmy Lawson subbed in for Jon Gingrich, who is “still a little bit under the weather.”

Penn State heads farther west for its next dual meet. It rolls into Columbus, Ohio at 4 p.m. Sunday to take on the No. 6 Buckeyes.

“I didn’t look at the lineups yet, but every match is tough. We have to go out there to win, “Wright said. “It’s all about the individual matchups. We gotta win those close ones, those 3-2, 4-3 matches. We’ve got to focus on grinding out these matches.”