PSU wrestling seniors savor moment

UNIVERSITY PARK – All the Penn State seniors came out to a standing ovation from 6,483 fans in a prematch ceremony before their last dual meet Sunday at Rec Hall, but three-time All-Americans David Taylor and Ed Ruth came out to thunderous ovations.

Taylor spent more time on the mat in the ceremony than he did in his bout, pinning Clarion’s Michael Pavasko in 11 seconds. Ruth wasn’t that quick, but he decked Dustin Conti in 1:04 in helping the top-ranked Nittany Lions put away the Golden Eagles, 43-3, in their final dual meet of the season.

Afterward, Taylor and Ruth were emotional about their last home meet. Taylor choked back tears when meeting with the media.

“It really hasn’t hit me until this week,” Taylor said. “It’s hard to explain all the emotions. I started wrestling when I was 5 years old and all the sacrifices my family made for me, getting me to different coaches, different tournaments…I just want to thank every single person that supported me over the last four or five years I’ve been in a Penn State singlet.”

“I can’t really explain, but I was really excited,” Ruth said. “My brother has not been to one of my home matches, and that really made me happy. My mind flies everywhere. I’m in the moment, back out of the moment and then back in again. I’m always all over the place.”

“I’m just like the people in the stands. I just enjoy watching them wrestle,” PSU coach Cael Sanderson said. “There have been a lot of great wrestlers, but there there’s not a lot of great wrestlers that are as fun to watch as those two.”

After the halftime intermission, Taylor (26-0), who was whistled before the bout started for starting too early, had Pavasko on his back almost immediately with a pancake, and when referee Kevin Tan slapped the mat, the crowd roared its approval.

“I haven’t been that excited to wrestle in a long time to be honest with you,” Taylor said. “I’ve wrestled in a lot of big matches, and sometimes you don’t get super excited for every match. I think this time of the year is what I love more than anything. Before I knew it the match was over.”

“When I saw him do that, I said ‘Wow, that’s going to be hard to beat,'” Ruth said. “When I looked up, both of the guy’s heels were pointed toward the ceiling and I was like ‘Woah, what’s going on? As soon as the whistle blew, the guy was flying across the mat, David is pouncing on top and he’s getting back points.”

“I thought it was a six-second pin or a five-second pin,” Sanderson said. “It was the wrong angle for the referee to call it. David went out the way he wanted to go out, I guess, in dual meets.”

It was the first of four straight pins for the 15-1 Lions, who got technical falls from Nico Megaludis (125) and Jimmy Gulibon (133) in the first two bouts and decisions from Zain Retherford (141), senior James English (149), who won eliminations this week against Andrew Alton and Zack Beitz, and Dylan Alton (157).

Matt Brown followed Taylor with a fall in 2:50 over Ryan Darch, and Morgan McIntosh followed Ruth’s pin by putting Daniel Sutherland away in 3:11. Ruth (25-1) strayed a little from his crossface cradle and used a nearside cradle for his pin.

“I couldn’t have asked this day to go any other way,” Ruth said. “A lot of the guys that went out there, they just went out there and completely dominated. It just made me happy to see my teammates do that. It was a good feeling to see everybody on the same page like that.”

In addition to Taylor, Ruth and English, James Vollrath, Seth Beitz, Cameron Kelly, who seemed to have the most fun, Kyle Moran and Nate Morgan were recognized in the prematch ceremony. Taylor, though, said he started to feel the emotions before his name was called.

“When Ed was getting called,” Taylor said clearing his throat, “I started crying to be honest with you. I just started thinking back to what Penn State’s been able to accomplish in the last four years, what Ed and I have been able to do the last four years and how we ended up together on the same team. There were just a lot of emotions going out when he was going out with his mom. I think then I got some excitement.”

“I think the crowd really showed their appreciation, and that meant a lot,” Sanderson said. “It was cool for David, and cool for Ed and the whole program. It is kind of crazy that it’s their last match. It was a great celebration for our seniors.”

Not everything came up roses for the Lions, though. 285-pounder Jimmy Lawson returned from his knee injury, was very cautious and lost, 7-6, to Evan Daley. Lawson scored a takedown in the waning seconds to tie the score, but riding time gave Daley the win.

“That’s not what I wanted to see,” Sanderson said. “I don’t know what he was doing, but he didn’t need to wrestle like that. You could see he was obviously bothered by something. When he wanted to score points, he had three seconds left and he hit a nice double leg.

“So, you’ve got to decided what you want. Do you want to be hurt or do want to go win. It makes us tough for us now because we’ve got to decide is he ready for the conference or not?”

Notes: Sam Sherlock, a former Lion now at Clarion, didn’t wrestle because of an injury. … Fans waited in a long line afterward for autographs. … Dylan Alton had an 8-second pin last season. … The Big Ten Championships are slated for March 8-9 in Madison, Wisc. … Football coach James Franklin was in attendance again.

125-Megaludis, PS, tech. fall Jones, 21-5, 5:00; 133-Gulibon, PS, tech. fall LiParti, 16-0, 2:58; 141-Retherford, PS, dec. Bedelyon, 8-4; 149-English, PS, dec. Arthur, 7-2; 157-D. Alton, PS, dec. Matthews, 12-6.

165-Taylor, PS, pinned Pavasko, :11; 174-Brown, PS, pinned Durch, 2:50; 184-Ruth, PS, pinned Conti, 1:04; 197-McIntosh, PS, pinned Sutherland, 3:11; 285-Daley, C, dec. Lawson, 7-6.

Records: Clarion (9-15); Penn State (15-1)

Att: 6,483

Referees: Kevin Tan, Jim Rivello