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Nittany Lions rally for Top Five dual victory

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The No. 1-ranked Penn State Nittany Lion wrestling team won six of ten bouts in front of a raucous Rec Hall crowd to grab a convincing win over No. 5 Oklahoma State. Over 6,500 fans, the 18th-straight home sell-out, cheered as Penn State rolled to a 23-12 victory in a national showcase non-conference dual.

Junior Nico Megaludis (Murrysville, Pa.), ranked No. 2 nationally at 125, got Penn State off to a hot start once again with a thrilling 11-7 win over No. 13 Eddie Klimara. The Cowboys were able to tie the dual when No. 4 Jon Morrison grabbed a hard-fought 2-0 win over sophomore Jimmy Gulibon (Latrobe, Pa.), ranked No. 16, at 133.

At 141, true freshman Zain Retherford (Benton, Pa.) put Penn State back on top with a win over No. 19 Anthony Collica. Ranked No. 2 nationally, Retherford was just too strong in the second period, using a full ride out and a third period escape to roll to a 2-0 win with 1:50 in riding time. Oklahoma State would win the next two bouts, however, to take a lead into halftime. The Cowboys tied things when No. 9 Josh Kindig posted a tough 5-3 win over red-shirt freshman Zack Beitz (Mifflintown, Pa.), ranked No. 17, at 149. Oklahoma State took a 9-6 lead into halftime off No. 3 Alex Dieringer's 6-4 win at 157 over junior Dylan Alton(Mill Hall, Pa.), ranked No. 6.

Senior David Taylor (St. Paris, Ohio), unbeaten and ranked No. 1 at 165, posted a hard-fought 5-2 win over No. 5 Tyler Caldwell to tie the dual at 9-9. In a rematch of last year's NCAA title bout at 174, No. 4 Matt Brown (West Valley City, Utah) nearly gained revenge on No. 2 Chris Perry. But a scramble on the edge of the mat that had Brown nearly pinning Perry ended as a Perry takedown and the defending NCAA champion would escape with a 4-3 (TB2) win.

Senior Ed Ruth (Harrisburg, Pa.), ranked No. 2 at 184, put Penn State on top for good, however, sending the Rec Hall faithful to their feet with a pin over Nolan Boyd at the 6:41 mark. The fall put the Lions up 15-12. SophomoreMorgan McIntosh (Santa Ana, Calif.), ranked No. 3 at 197, then iced the dual meet with a dominating 16-2 major, giving the Lions a 19-12 lead. In the dual's final match-up, junior Jon Gingrich (Wingate, Pa.) capped off three straight dual-ending wins with a strong 14-5 major over Cowboy Ethan Driver, giving Penn State the 23-12 final victory.

Penn State dominated the takedown battle, posting a 20-7 advantage. The final attendance of 6,571 was the largest Rec Hall crowd of the year for Penn State and was the 18th-straight home sellout. Taylor stayed unbeaten with the win, moving to 25-0 on the year. He is now 125-3 overall, tied for sixth all-time at Penn State. Ruth moves to 24-1 and picked up his ninth pin of the year. The Nittany Lion is 126-3 overall, fifth all-time at Penn State and now has 43 pins, third all-time.

Megaludis moved to 22-2 with a pin, four techs and nine majors. Retherford stayed unbeaten and is 25-0 with four pins, two techs and seven majors. McIntosh improved to 24-2 with four pins and 11 majors as well.

Penn State is now 14-1 and won its second Big Ten dual meet co-title with a 7-1 conference mark. Oklahoma State falls to 9-5. Penn State will host Clarion in already sold-out Rec Hall next Sunday, Feb. 23, at 2 p.m. The dual will serve as Senior Day.

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Edgar Snyder

Washington Times