MADISON, Wis. - The Penn State Nittany Lion wrestling team rode a strong and balanced performance to its fourth-straight Big Ten Championship Sunday, sparked by two historic individual champions.
Penn State topped second-place Iowa by 5.5 points. Coach Cael Sanderson's squad took the title with 140.5 points while the Hawkeyes were close behind at 135.0.
In addition to its fourth straight team trophy, Penn State will return home with its first ever four-time individual champions as seniors David Taylor and Ed Ruth made school and conference history with final, historic, title runs.
All 10 Nittany Lion wrestlers are headed to the NCAA Championships in Oklahoma City as Penn State sets its sights on a fourth straight NCAA crown.
Taylor was named the 2014 Big Ten Wrestler of the Year, the third time he has won the honor.
The Lion senior also pulled in his first Big Ten Championship Outstanding Wrestler honor. Sanderson won his fourth-straight Big Ten Coach of the Year award.
Schopp wins title
A.J. Schopp, a Tyrone graduate, won his third straight Eastern Wrestling League title for the Edinboro wrestling team Saturday night.
Schopp improved to 31-1 and 103-12 for his career with an 18-0 technical fall over Bloomsburg's Nick Wilcox.
Schopp, the second-ranked wrestler at 133 pounds in the NCAA, was named the Outstanding Wrestler after previously earning the same honor at the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference championships. Schopp's victory also helped Edinboro win the team title.
An epically tight team race heading into the Big Ten finals, Penn State led Iowa by just one half point (128.5 to 128.0) and each team had five finalists. While both squads picked up key points in the placing bouts, Penn State used those consolation points and the title turns by Taylor and Ruth to roll to victory.
Taylor, the No. 1 seed at 165, took on second-seed Nick Moore of Iowa in the finals.
With Penn State trailing Iowa at the time of the bout by 3.5 points, Taylor went to work. The duo traded early shots with Taylor breaking through at the 1:45 mark for an early 2-0 lead. The Lion senior then turned Moore for three back points to open up a 5-0 lead with :45 left on the clock. Taylor rode Moore out to lead 5-0 with 1:44 in riding time after one period. Taylor took down to start the second stanza and escaped to a 6-0 lead. He added another quick takedown, cut Moore loose and then countered a Moore shot to notch a takedown of his own for a 10-1 lead. The Iowa bench challenged the call, contending that Moore and a takedown earlier in the scramble, but the Taylor points stood. Taylor cut Moore loose and picked up another takedown.
Moore countered for his own score but Taylor carried a hefty 13-5 lead with nearly 2 minutes in riding time into the third period. The third stanza was all Taylor on top, clinching the riding time point and riding Moore out. The 14-5 major decision, with 3:29 in riding time, made Taylor the 12th four-time Big Ten champion in conference history (and Penn State's first-ever). Taylor will head to the NCAA Championship with a 29-0 record on the year after his 3-0 Big Ten title run that included a pin, a tech fall and a major.
Ruth, the No. 1 seed at 184, took on Iowa's Ethan Lofthouse, the No. 2 seed, in the finals at 184. With a chance to clinch Penn State's fourth-straight team title and become the school's second four-time Big Ten champ, the Lion senior was unstoppable. Ruth notched two first period takedowns to open up an early 4-1 lead.
Taking down to start the second, Ruth quickly escaped and then turned in to the Hawkeye quickly, taking Lofthouse down again to open up a 7-1 lead. He cut Lofthouse loose and quickly took him down again to lead 9-2 with well more than a minute in riding time after two. Lofthouse took down to start the third period, but Ruth would not relent.
The Lion senior simply rode the Hawkeye out for the full period and, with 3:35 in riding time, rolled to the 10-2 major. The win made Ruth the 13th four-time Big Ten Champion in conference history and, following teammate Taylor by mere minutes, the second in Penn State history.
Ruth will head to the NCAA Championship with 29-1 record thanks to his 4-0 conference title run.
Junior Nico Megaludis, true freshman Zain Retherford and sophomore Morgan McIntosh lost title bouts.
Penn State went 29-14 overall, collecting two pins, two tech falls, 10 majors and an injury default for 21 bonus points. Penn State became the fifth team in conference history to win four straight team titles, the first since Iowa from 1995-1998.
Sanderson's squad will send 10 automatic qualifiers to the NCAA Championships in two weeks in Oklahoma City. This marked the second straight year that Penn State has sent its full lineup to nationals. It is also the fifth time that Sanderson has qualified all 10 of his wrestlers as a coach. The NCAA announces the full and final NCAA brackets and seeds on Wednesday night.
FINAL TEAM STANDINGS
1: Penn State, 140.5; 2: Iowa, 135.0; 3: Minnesota, 118.5; 4: Ohio State, 86.5; 5: Nebraska, 79.0; 6: Illinois, 78.5; 7: Wisconsin, 73.0; 8: Michigan, 71.5; 9: Northwestern, 58.0; 10: Indiana, 37.0; 11: Purdue, 34.5; 12: Michigan State, 21.5
125: Jesse Delgado ILL dec. Nico Megaludis PSU, 3-2 (TB2; 0:15 RT); 133: Tony Ramos IOWA dec. Tyler Graff WIS, 2-1; 141: Logan Stieber OSU dec. Zain Retherford PSU, 7-3; 149: Jason Tsirtsis NU dec. Jake Sueflohn NEB, 6-2; 157: James Green NEB dec. Derek St. John IOWA, 7-4; 165: David Taylor PSU maj. dec. Nick Moore IOWA, 14-5; 174: Robert Kokesh NEB dec. Mike Evans IOWA, 6-4; 184: Ed Ruth PSU maj. dec. Ethan Lofthouse IOWA, 10-2; 197: Nick Heflin OSU dec. Morgan McIntosh PSU, 5-3 (SV2); 285: Tony Nelson MINN dec. Adam Chalfant IND, 2-1 (TB)