UNIVERSITY PARK - Jon Gingrich and Jimmy Lawson have been sharing the 285-pound spot for the Penn State wrestling team. Gingrich got the call on Sunday against Indiana's eighth-ranked Adam Chalfant.
And the Bald Eagle Area graduate made the most of it.
Gingrich trailed Chalfant, 3-1, entering the third period, but the Nittany Lion sophomore escaped and took Chalfant down twice - the last time gave him the lead and brought the Rec Hall crowd of 6,152 to its feet in celebration. Gingrich finished off a 6-5 win and secured the top-ranked Lions' 52-0 thrashing of the Hoosiers in their Big Ten opener.
"When I got my hand raised, I felt like I could run through a brick wall," Gingrich said.
It was the second largest margin of victory in program history behind a 54-0 win over Millersville in 1983. The Lions (3-0) recorded six pins, a forfeit win and a major decision, and they held a 28-1 advantage in takedowns.
"Falls will do some damage on the score," PSU coach Cael Sanderson said, "but there were some good matches out there. When you jump out 24-0, that's hard to come back from. Our guys took advantage of it. It was a good win for us."
Chalfant, who is an impressive physical speciman for a heavyweight, built his lead with a first-period takedown and a second-period escape. Gingrich avoided further damage with a whizzer that held off a Chalfant takedown attempt.
"That was a big, strong kid, and Gingrich just matched him as far as appearance," Sanderson said. "The kid's arms are a little bit bigger."
Asked to respond to the arms comment, Gingrich smiled and said, "I don't know if that matters."
How will Sanderson use Gingrich (9-2) and the 15h-ranked Lawson (7-1), who are 1-1 against each other, the rest of the way? He says he still has to figure that out.
"Ultimately, we have to have the guy who can score the points in the Big Ten and national championship. I think both guys have shown they're pretty capable of it. We hate going back-and-forth because they both need to get wins to qualify for a seed in the conference. A win like that can get you in the nationals alone."
The demoltion started at 125, where third-ranked Nico Megaldis (7-1) built a 15-6 lead on Joe Duca before getting the fall in 4:38.
PSU 133-pounder Jordan Conaway took a 3-2 record into his bout with 15-5 Quin Murphy, but Conaway built a 6-2 first-period lead with a takedown, back points and a reversal. He was leading 9-2 in the second, when he pinned Murphy in 4:43.
"I'm out there trying to keep it a high pace," Conaway said. "Then, once he starts slowing it down a little, I got a little more physical and tried to get the pin. And it worked."
Bryan Pearsall (8-2) cradled Eric Roach twice in the second period of the 141-pound bout. The second time, referee Bruce Haselrig slapped the mat at the 4:32 mark, giving the Lions an 18-0 lead.
The Lion' 149-pounder Andrew Alton (7-0) bucked the second-period pin pattern and disposed of Tyler Walsh in 52 seconds. Andrew's twin brother, Dylan (6-2), had a tougher time Tyler Walsh. Alton was leading 6-3 in the second and just missed hitting a throw and any points. Leading 6-4 in the fourth, Alton got a takedown, and he added another in an 11-6 win.
It was the first time the Altons - Central Mountain grads - were in the same lineup at home in their college careers. Andrew redshirted two years ago, and Dylan redshirted last year.
"It was exciting seeing the crowd out there and everybody cheering," Dylan said. "I'm really glad I got my first match at Rec Hall out of the way."
The Lions led, 27-0, at the break, and it didn't get much better for the Hoosiers (5-3) in the second half.
A 9-0 major decision by second-ranked David Taylor (8-0) over 18th-ranked Ryan LeBlanc at 165, and a pin by Matt Brown (8-0) of Cheney Dale with 20 seconds left in the bout gave the Lions a 37-0 lead.
After top-ranked Ed Ruth (8-0) decked Luke Sheridan with a cradle in 1:24, Indiana forfeited to Quentin Wright (8-0) at 197, setting the stage for Gingrich, who was very aware that he needed to win for the Lions to get a shutout.
"I thought about that some before my match," Gingrich said, "I remember thinking to myself 'Look at the score. It's going to come down to you for the shutout. But that shouldn't matter. The people who are there for you in life are still going to be there for you win or lose.' I kind of realized I need to not look at it as keeping a shutout, but going out there to win for myself."
125-Megaludis, PS, pinned Duca, 4:38; 133-Conaway, PS, pinned Murphy, 4:43; 141-Pearsall, PS, pinned Roach, 4:32; 149-A. Alton, PS, pinned Capezio, :52; 157-D. Alton, PS, dec. Walsh, 11-6.
165-Taylor, PS, maj. dec. LeBlanc, 9-0; 174-Brown, PS, pinned Dale, 6:40; 184-Ruth, PS, pinned Sheridan, 1:24; 197-Wright, PS, won by forfeit; 285-Gingrich, PS, dec. Chalfant, 6-5.
Records: Indiana (5-3 overall, 0-1 in Big Ten). Penn State (3-0 overall, 1-0 in Big Ten)