DES MOINES, Iowa - Penn State won its third consecutive national championship and crowned two individual champions Saturday night at the 2013 NCAA Div. 1 Wrestling Championships, but one of its stars lost perhaps the most anticipated single bout in NCAA history.
Ed Ruth and Quentin Wright won titles, the second for each, but Matt Brown, Nico Megaludis and David Taylor lost their title bids. For Megaludis and Taylor, it was the second time each has lost in the finals.
Penn State fended off a challenge from Oklahoma State and won the team title by four points, 123.5-119.5.
Former Tyrone standout A.J. Schopp will have to be satisfied with just being an All-American, for now. The Edinboro sophomore 133-pounder went 1-1 on Saturday and finished fourth in his second trip to nationals.
Schopp started his day with an impressive 9-3 decision of No. 7 seed Jonathan Morrison of Oklahoma State. A first-period takedown and three nearfall points off his patented tilt gave the Fighting Scot a 5-0 lead after one. He added an escape, takedown and riding time point on 2:30 of advantage for the win.
Then, in the third-place match against No. 3 seed Tyler Graff of Wisconsin, Schopp dropped a 6-3 decision. Graff scored the initial takedown, but Schopp countered by taking top to start the second and took the lead with a tilt for three of his own in the second.
Schopp was close to turning Graff again, but the Badger wriggled free and scored a reversal as the period ended.
Leery of Schopp's tilt, Graff chose neutral to start the third and went on the defensive. He countered a late Schopp shot for a takedown to set the final.
Schopp ended his sophomore season with a 33-5 record. His career record stands at 72-11.
Ruth rolled up a 12-4 major decision over Lehigh's Robert Hamlin. Wright won a battle of unbeatens in toppling No. 1 seed Dustin Kilgore of Kent State, 8-6.
Brown dropped a razor thin 2-1 decision to No. 1 seed Chris Perry of Oklahoma State. Megaludis lost in the finals for the second straight year, this time 7-4 to Jesse Delgado of Illinois. Taylor dropped a 5-4 decision to four-time champion Kyle Dake of Cornell.
Taylor scored the initial takedown on now four-time champion Kyle Dake, who is the first to win four at four different weights and just the third four-time champion.
Dake escaped and converted on a takedown of his own and the first period ended with Dake in the lead, 3-2. As an amped up Wells Fargo Arena was raucous.
Dake escaped in the second and led, 4-2, heading into the third. Taylor took bottom and escaped, but not before Dake had amassed more than a minute in riding time. That was crucial as Taylor coaxed a stalling point but couldn't convert on a takedown. Dake's 1:13 in riding time was the difference in a 5-4 win.
Ruth, as he often does, struck quickly with a takedown early in the first period and rode Hamlin for 2:33 of the first period. An escape and takedown in the second increased his lead to 5-1 at the end of two. In the third, he gained momentum, scoring three takedowns, the last one in the final 15 seconds to secure an extra team point. He earned a riding time point for 3:55 in riding time for the 12-4 major decision.
For Ruth, it was his second consecutive championship after winning 13-2 in 2012 over Stanford's Nick Amuchastegui. He is now a three-time All-American.
After Ruth had his hand raised, coach Cael Sanderson picked up and put him over his shoulder.
"Oh, man. It wasn't even when the whistle blew. It was when the guy came over counting down. He was like three, two, and I'm like, 'oh, I'm about to win. I'm about to win.' As soon as he said one, the crowd is cheering and everything. I felt like my heart exploded," Ruth said.
Wright did what hadn't been done all year to Kilgore, take him down - three times. Using an underhook to create an angle for his devastating double, Wright scored the first takedowns of the match and then twice in the third for a convincing 8-6 victory.
"A pin would have been better, but a win's good. The team race is really important to me, personally. Winning, too, but more importantly the team race," Wright said. "I knew one of us had to take it upon our shoulders to get it and I thought, 'why not me? Let's go out there, let's clinch this, let's win the team race so it will take the pressure off Nico and David.'"
Brown's match with Perry was decided in the tiebreaker period, with Perry taking a 2-1 decision.
Brown escaped in three seconds to start the second and Perry escaped in eight seconds. Neither scored in the sudden victory period. Brown chose bottom to start the first tiebreaker period. After a restart, Perry threw in legs and a borderline chokehold and rode out Brown. Brown chose to cut Perry and couldn't score a winning takedown.
Neither Megaludis nor Delgado scored in the first. Delgado escaped quickly in the second, as Delgado did to start the third. But with Megaludis in deep on a shot, Delgado countered and caught him on his back for five points. Megaludis eventually escaped and took down Delgado. Megaludis cut him loose but couldn't take him down late.