PSU will face challenges in title defense

UNIVERSITY PARK – The road to a fourth consecutive NCAA championships may be more difficult for Penn State than the previous three.

The NCAA released the seeds and brackets Wednesday night for the Division I Wrestling Championships on March 20-22 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Okla.

While eight of 10 Nittany Lions were seeded among the top 14 at their respective weights, some of their first-round and potential later-round matchups aren’t easy.

Here’s a weight-by-weight look at Penn State’s seeds and matchups:

125 pounds: Junior Nico Megaludis (26-3), a two-time NCAA finalist, is seeded No. 3. He meets Darian Cruz (23-7) of Lehigh in the first round. Megaludis is in the same half of the draw as No. 2 seed Nahshon Garrett of Cornell. The two could meet in the semifinals. Garrett owns two wins over Megaludis this season.

133: Freshman Jimmy Gulibon (17-13) is unseeded. He is paired with No. 4 seed Jon Morrison (25-1) of Oklahoma State in the first round. Morrison defeated Gulibon, 4-0, in the Southern Scuffle final and 2-0 in the dual meet.

141: Freshman Zain Retherford (29-1) is seeded third. He meets No. 12 seed Undrakhbayar Khishignyam (22-3) of the Citadel in the first round. Retherford is in the same half of the draw as No. 2 seed and two-time NCAA champion (at 133 pounds) Logan Stieber of Ohio State. The two have split two bouts this year. Retherford won, 4-2, in overtime in the December dual meet, and Stieber won 7-3 in the Big Ten final.

149: Sixth-year senior James English (11-5) is unseeded in his first and only NCAA appearance. He meets No. 12 seed Dyllan Cottrell (22-1) of Appalachian State in the first round.

157: Junior Dylan Alton (18-5) is seeded 13th. He will meet the winner of the match between Brian Murphy (18-7) of Michigan vs. Justin DeAngelis (16-5) of Oklahoma. Alton lost to Murphy, 3-1, in the Big Ten consolation semifinals.

165: Senior David Taylor, a three-time NCAA finalist and a champion in 2012, is seeded first. He will take on South Dakota State’s Joseph Brewster (22-14) in the first round.

174: Junior Matt Brown (28-4) is seeded fifth a year after making a run to the NCAA final. His first-round opponent is Kyle Meyer (26-11) of Stanford. He is in the same half of the draw as No. 4 seed Mike Evans of Iowa, who he has split two matches with this season, and No. 1 seed and defending champion Chris Perry of Oklahoma State, who Brown lost to in last year’s final.

184: Two-time champion Ed Ruth (29-1) is seeded second as a senior. He meets Wisconsin’s Jackson Hein (12-7) in the first round. Ruth has the potential to avenge his only loss of the season if he should make it to the semifinals. The No. 3 seed is Cornell’s Gabriel Dean, who beat Ruth, 7-4 in the Southern Scuffle final.

197: Sophomore Morgan McIntosh (27-3) is seeded No. 3. He takes on Lehigh’s John Bolich (16-13) in the first round. McIntosh is in the same bracket as the wrestler who handed him two of his three losses. Missouri’s J’Den Cox beat the Nittany Lion twice at the Southern Scuffle.

285: Junior Jon Gingrich (22-8) earned a No. 14 seed. He is paired with SIU Edwardsville’s David Devine (26-11) in the first round.