ST. LOUIS - Penn State has all but wrapped up its second straight NCAA wrestling championship, and with a day to spare.
The Nittany Lions won all five of their semifinal matches Friday night, and have unbeaten top seeds in three weight classes heading into the finals.
Frank Molinaro at 149 pounds, David Taylor at 165 and Ed Ruth at 174 are a combined 93-0 after impressive victories on Friday night. The Nittany Lions also will have finalists Saturday night at 125 pounds with No. 10 Nico Megaludis and at 184 with No. 6 Quentin Wright.
"It's like we're all just richocheting off each other, reaching new heights," Ruth said. "Nobody is doing it by themselves. We're doing it together."
Penn State had 124 points and a 23.5-point gap over Minnesota in its bid to stay on top under coach Cael Sanderson, stretching what had been a 17-point lead after the quarterfinals earlier Friday.
Iowa had 93 points, followed by Cornell with 86, Ohio State with 60 and Illinois and Lehigh with 57.5 apiece. Cornell and Iowa have three finalists apiece. Cornell and Iowa have three finalists apiece.
Schopp fails to win medal
Tyrone graduate and Edinboro redshirt freshman A.J. Schopp went 2-1 on Friday and came up a win short of reaching the medal round.
Schopp was eliminated by Michigan's Zach Stephens, 9-5, in his third bout. Stephens advanced to the consolation quarterfinals and assured of eighth place and All-America status.
Schopp won his first two bouts of the day, pinning Chattanooga's Nick Soto in 2:08 and rallying to beat Army's Jordan Thome, 7-5. Schopp trailed Thome, 4-0, entering the third period, but Schopp scored two sets of nearfall points and received a stalling point to win.
- Todd Irwin
"We wanted to be in the running for this thing and unfortunately, it looks like we're not," Minnesota coach J Robinson said. "We lost a couple important ones this morning and that hurt us."
Eight of the 10 top seeds advanced to the finals, with 184 pounds the exception with Wright, the defending champion, facing No. 4 Steve Bosak of Cornell. The biggest underdog from the semifinals was 11th seed Brandon Hatchett of Lehigh, who earned the right to face Taylor at 165.
Top seeded heavyweight Ryan Flores of American appeared dazed much of the time in a 6-2 loss to fourth seed Zachary Rey of Lehigh, the defending champion. Flores used all of his injury time.
Cornell sent a pair of top seeds to the finals, unbeaten Kyle Dake (34-0) at 157 and Cam Simaz (30-1) at 197 pounds. Dake, a junior, is trying to win a third title at a third different weight class after previously winning at 141 and 149 pounds.
"It's pretty exciting," Dake said. "I just really wanted to get back on that stage and be able to show people what I'm made of."
Taylor is 4 for 4 with pins in the tournament, and Ruth (30-0) beat fourth seed Logan Storley of Minnesota by major decision 17-1 in the semifinals after getting a pair of pins earlier in the three-day event. Molinaro (32-0) has dispatched his opponents the last two rounds by a combined score of 15-2, while Wright (30-3) is the defending champion at his weight class.
"I don't think people see me as a pinner," Taylor said. "Just going out and getting the job done this weekend."
Megaludis (28-7) beat Cornell's Frank Perrelli in overtime at 125 and will face Iowa top seed Matt McDonough (35-1), who has two pins and won his second major decision in the semifinals. McDonough was champion in 2010 and runner-up last year and has beaten Megaludis twice.
"This is my favorite time of year, it's been like that since I started coming to these when I was in seventh grade," McDonough said. "Spring break, everyone goes to Cancun. I go to the NCAA tournament."
The bracket held form at 133, with defending champion and No. 1 Jordan Oliver (28-1) of Oklahoma State and No. 2 Logan Stieber (32-2) of Ohio State advancing. Oliver settled for a decision over fourth seed Bernard Futrell of Illinois, after both opened the tourney with three pins.
"Just looking to go out there and get action started right away, and scrapping a full seven minutes," said Oliver, who finished second last year.
Simaz will face No. 2 Christopher Honeycutt in the 197-pound final in what he colorfully described as a contrast in styles.
"He's all jacked up and I'm a string bean," Simaz said. "Hopefully the string bean can pull one out for the little guys."
Appalachian State's Austin Trotman had the biggest upset of the quarterfinals with a 12-9 victory over top seed Joe LeBlanc of Wyoming at 184. Ohio State had brothers Logan and Hunter Stieber in the semifinals, and Logan Stieber made the finals as the No. 2 seed at 133 against No. 1 Jordan Oliver of Oklahoma State.
The three-day event, held in St. Louis for the sixth time since 2000, is sold out and on track for a tournament record despite going head-to-head with the NCAA men's basketball tournament.