Ruth, PSU crush Clarion 43-3
UNIVERSITY PARK – It was only fitting that the storybook careers of David Taylor and Ed Ruth would end like this in front of another sellout crowd of 6,483 adoring Rec Hall fans on Sunday.
Arguably one of the most prolific pairs of wrestlers in the history of NCAA wrestling wrote their final home dual meet chapters on Senior Day.
And each, predictably, did it with a flourish unique to their dominating, dynamic styles.
Taylor and Ruth contributed two of the four falls the Nittany Lions (15-1) recorded in a 43-3 dismantling of Clarion (9-15). Penn State won nine of 10 bouts, with four falls, two technical falls and three decisions.
“It was a great celebration for our seniors,” coach Cael Sanderson said. “That’s really what it is. It’s not a be-sad day, it’s a thank you. We appreciate it. We’re very thankful for the guys and the time they put in here at Penn State.”
In addition to Taylor and Ruth, Seth Beitz, Cameron Kelly, Kyle Moran, Nate Morgan, James English and James Vollrath were recognized in Senior Day festivities before the dual meet. Beitz, Kelly, Moran and Morgan all have junior eligibility and have chosen not to return for their senior seasons.
As much as the fans roared their appreciation for the other six, this was a day to celebrate two of the most decorated wrestlers in the long, proud history of Penn State wrestling.
The numbers the two have amassed have been staggering. Consider: Taylor improved to 26-0 this year and 126-3 for his career. Ruth improved to 24-1 and 127-3. Combined, the two are an amazing 253-6 (a .977 winning percentage). Of their 253 wins, 216 (or 85 percent) have earned bonus points for the team.
“I’m just like the people in the stands. I just like to watch them wrestle. They’ve been very consistent,” Sanderson said. “There’s a lot of great wrestlers, but there’s not a lot of great wrestlers that are as fun to watch as those two. Just like anybody else, I love the way they compete.”
Neither wasted much time competing on Sunday.
Taylor, initially cautioned for starting too soon before the opening whistle, shot in, pancaked Michael Pavasko to his back and pinned him in 11 seconds. It was the fastest Penn State pin since Dylan Alton scored an 8-second fall in January of 2013.
“I haven’t been that excited to wrestle in a long time,” Taylor admitted.
Sanderson said he thought if not for a bad angle, referee Kevin Tan could have slapped the mat in 5 or 6 seconds.
Even Ruth was impressed.
“When I saw him do that I thought, ‘man that’s going to be hard to beat.’ I looked up and both guys’ heels were pointing toward the ceiling,” he said.
After the match was over, Taylor showed a rare glimpse of emotion. He admitted to even more emotion before the match.
“Every match this year everyone’s been saying you only have five more, four more. I guess it didn’t really hit me until this week thinking ‘it’s just another match, but it’s my last one here.’ It’s hard to explain all the emotion,” he said.
“When Ed was getting called, I started crying. I was thinking back to what Penn State has been able to accomplish in the last four years. What Ed and I have been able to do in the last four years.”
Ruth, who revealed for the first time last week that he has a daughter, shared another secret on Sunday.
“I was really excited. My brother has not been to one of my home matches. This is the first one he has been to and it was my Senior Night, so that really made me happy, too,” he said.
Ruth pinned Dustin Conti in 1:04, using a cradle, but a near cradle not his patented crossface cradle.
Those two pins came in a series of four successive pins from 165 to 197. No. 4 Matt Brown needed 2:50 to pin Ryan Darch at 174 pounds and No. 3 197-pounder Morgan McIntosh used just 3:10 to flatten Daniel Sutherland.
No. 2 Nico Megaludis and No. 15 Jimmy Gulibon staked Penn State to a 10-0 lead with a pair of technical falls. Megaludis went the takedown route, rolling up seven in a 21-5 tech in 5 minutes. Gulibon scored the initial takedown and then went the tilt route, getting five turns for a 16-0 tech fall in 2:58.
No. 2 141-pounder Zain Retherford gave up the initial takedown and the match was 2-2 heading into the third, but the freshman kept his unbeaten record intact with two takedowns, an escape and a riding time point in the third for an 8-4 decision.
At 149, the coaching staff went with James English for his Rec Hall farewell. He posted a solid 7-2 decision.
And, at 157, Dylan Alton built an 8-2 lead after one and cruised to a 12-6 decision.
Clarion’s only win came at 285,where Evan Daley nipped No. 12 Jimmy Lawson, 7-6, in Lawson’s first match since injuring a knee against Northwestern on Jan. 19.
With the regular season complete, Sanderson said he and his staff must decide on a starter at 149 and heavyweight in advance of the 2014 Big Ten Championships on March 8-9 in Madison, Wis.