UNIVERSITY PARK - With a wrestling match between Penn State and Purdue at Rec Hall, a women's basketball game at Bryce Jordan Center starting an hour later and students returning from the winter break, traffic jams in State College were the news of Sunday afternoon.
Inside Rec Hall, before 6,369 in attendance, the big news was the return of the Alton twins, Andrew and Dylan, who had been out of the Penn State lineup after both had offseason shoulder surgery. Both of them won, but a new problem for Andrew might have developed.
The Nittany Lions' 149-pounder had surgery on his right shoulder, but in a 7-6 win over Purdue's Brandon Nelson, he appeared to fade in the third period and hurt his left shoulder.
Dylan Alton was in much more control, earning a 6-1 win over Doug Welch at 157. The wins by the Altons, who had wrestled unattached in some recent tournaments, helped the now 8-0 Nittany Lions dispose of the Boilermakers, 34-3, in a overall lackluster effort by the nation's top-ranked team.
"I saw some good things," PSU coach Cael Sanderson said. "Our guys who were real consistent were consistent. We saw some lows, obviously, in a few weight classes. That's kind of frustrating. I'm not too happy with the way we competed today. A lot of it has to do with how we trained them this week coming off of a big tournament [Southern Scuffle], but still, you have to find a way to be at your best regardless.
"It's good to see the Altons back in there. They're not 100 percent [conditioning-wise] yet, but we've got to get them out there and see what they can do because we're running out of time."
"It felt good. I was a little nervous," Dylan Alton said. "I just need to get more mentally prepared. I wouldn't say I was tired because I don't get tired in practice. I just need to get more of an urgency in the third period to get off the bottom and keep scoring points."
Andrew Alton scored two takedowns in the first period for a 4-1 lead, and he led 6-3 entering the third. But it started to unravel in the third when he chose down. With Nelson riding, Alton tapped out for a shoulder injury timeout.
Nelson received an escape point and the choice for top or bottom. He chose bottom, and Alton was hit with two stalling points in the final minute. Alton avoided giving up an escape and another stall call, got the riding time and won. Afterward, Alton said the left arm injury wasn't that serious.
"I just got my arm cranked a little bit," Alton said. "It's a little sore, but it's not the one I got surgery on, so there's no injuries."
"He put his shoulder in a bad position," Sanderson said. "When you're coming back off of a shoulder injury, that's never the right thing to do. It's hard to feel bad for him when you put yourself there. We saw that a few times with our guys today. I feel if you give the guy your arm and he breaks it off, that's your fault."
His brother notched a first-period takedown of Doug Welch, second-period escape and third-period takedown, and even tried a throw but Welch backed off the mat.
"I was feeling pretty good to compete again and be out there in Rec Hall," Dylan Alton said. "It's hard. You want to get back out there as soon as possible. This is the last year I'm going to be able to wrestle with Ed Ruth and David Taylor. But, we were just patient, and not we're ready to be back on the mat.'
The only pin of the day came from 165-pounder David Taylor, who put Chad Welch away in 2:23. The Lions picked up four major decisions, though, from Nico Megaludis (125), Zain Retherford (141), Matt Brown (174) and Ed Ruth (184).
Ruth was wrestling for the first time since his 84-bout winning streak was snapped by Cornell's Gabe Dean, 7-4, in the finals of the Southern Scuffle on Jan. 2.
"I just wanted to change some things up when I stepped out on the mat," Ruth said. "I want to have a different gameplan. I want to take a couple steps back and let them come to me, but I'm the kind of guy who wants to put my hands on them first."
When did he develop that gameplan?
"I kind of just made it up when I was on the side warming up," he said.
The meet ended with decisions from Morgan McIntosh (197) and Jimmy Lawson (285). The eighth-ranked McIntosh wasn't pleased, though, with his 6-4 decision over 16th-ranked Braden Atwood.
"There's some good things I can take away from the match," he said. "I've been working on penetrating and getting in deep on guys' legs, and I was able to do that a few times in this match, but that third period was not ideal at all. There are some things I need to work on with getting off the bottom."
Franklin watch: New football coach James Franklin posed for photos and signed autographs before the match, and he sat with his family and athletic director Dave Joyner in the VIP section at matside during first half of the match. At halftime, he briefly addressed the crowd, with his wife, Fumi, and daughters, Shola and Addison, by his side. His daughters did the "We Are Penn State" chant.
125-Megaludis, PS, maj. dec. Eppert, 15-4; 133-Quiroga, P, dec. Gulibon, 9-2; 141-Retherford, PS, maj. dec. Sabatello, 10-2; 149-A. Alton, PS, dec. Nelson, 7-6; 157-D. Alton, PS, dec. D. Welch, 6-1.
165-Taylor, PS, pinned C. Welch, 2:23; 174-Brown, PS, maj. dec. Kissel, 14-4; 184-Ruth, PS, maj. dec. Lynde, 13-2; 197-McIntosh, PS, dec. Atwood, 6-4; 285-Lawson, PS, dec. White, 8-1.
Records: Purdue (3-4 overall, 0-4 in Big Ten); Penn State (8-0 overall, 2-0 in Big Ten)