UNIVERSITY PARK - Wow! What a performance.
Spotting Ohio State a 9-3 lead after three bouts, the Penn State Nittany Lions roared back to put together seven straight wins good for 31 team points as they demolished the Buckeyes, 34-9, before 6,728 fans at noisy Rec Hall.
"I think the team wrestled well today," began PSU head coach Cael Sanderson. "They showed a lot of intensity, they went after it and they looked good. Our conditioning looked good and the technique is improving each time out. I saw a bit of an attitude out there which is what it takes to be the best and win the big matches as we head toward the post-season."
Nico Megaludis bounced back from a tough loss to Iowa's Matt McDonough last week to get the Lions off and running with a solid decision over Johnni Dejulius at 125.
"I went to a few camps with him (Dejulius), but I never wrestled him before," said Megaludis. "Going into the match, I expected him to hang on to this (right) arm and I was working on that all week. I wasn't successful with it because I allowed him to hang on to it so that is something to work on."
As for being a true freshman at 125 and also the starting weight in most dual meets, Megaludis says he enjoys being the first on the mat.
"I like going out there first and it is fun to start things off," Megaludis said. "This week wasn't too high of a pace because he slowed me down a little bit. All I wanted to do was wrestle hard and get our team off to a good start."
At 133 and 141, the Stieber brothers were every bit as good as advertised as Logan decked Frank Martolletti in 1:38 of the first period before brother Hunter held off a determined effort from Bryan Pearsall for a 9-5 win.
With the Buckeyes leading 9-3, little did they know that would be the last time they would taste victory for the remainder of the meet as the 'Nits went on their rampage.
"I thought we might have a chance to break through at 157, 197 and heavyweight," said Ohio State head coach Tom Ryan. "I thought those three weights were very winnable for us, but the bottom line is that they (Penn State) just outworked us today."
When asked if he was happy with the intensity of his guys, Ryan's answer was an emphatic "no". "It doesn't take someone who has coached twenty years to notice what passion looks like. We saw passion at home a week ago (in a 21-9 win over Iowa), and up and down the line, we saw a lack of passion out there today. I thought that overall, it was just a very flat performance by us today."
Frank Molinaro started the assault as he turned Alex Gordon every which way but loose en route to 12-0 major decision at 149 before Dylan Alton methodically tossed a 4-0 shutout at Josh Demas at 157. With the Alton win, the Lions regained the lead in the dual at 10-9 and they never looked back.
If you were an Ohio State Buckeye fan and thought you were still in the dual meet, you could easily forget about that after the first three bouts following the halftime break.
David Taylor mauled Derek Garcia for an 18-3 technical fall in 5:20 at 165, Ed Ruth toyed with Nick Heflin for a 4-1 lead before cradling Heflin for the fall in 2:05 and Quentin Wright followed Ruth's deck job with one of his own as he hammered C. J. Magrum for a 9-1 lead in the first period before headlocking Magrum for the fall just 18 seconds into the middle period.
Growing up in Ohio, Taylor was familiar with many of the guys on the Buckeye squad. He admitted that it added a little special flavor to the win.
"It was nice to beat those guys," Taylor said. "I grew up wrestling most of them. I wrestled almost everyone from 125 to 167 at some point in my career and I grew up being friends with most of those guys. We are still friends off the mat, but on the mat, you have to beat them."
Growing up in the area, Wright was quick to point out that from when he watched the Lions as a high school standout at Bald Eagle Area to the present time, there is no better place to be.
"This (Rec Hall) is the best atmosphere in the country," Wright said. "To have back-to-back weeks like we had just gets us as wrestlers to go out there and wrestle hard. I think everybody enjoys it and I know the wrestlers feed off of it."
As for being able to hit the headlock, Wright said, "It is a lot of fun because it is always a lot of fun when you have the chance to throw someone."
With the winner of the dual already decided and only the final score to be determined, Morgan McIntosh broke a 4-all deadlock with a third period escape over Andrew Campolattano for his 5-4 win at 197 and Cameron Wade brought down the curtain on the impressive Lion triumph with a 9-0 major decision over Peter Capone at 285. The two wrestlers were scoreless heading into the final two minutes, but Wade reversed Capone and put him on his back twice for six points before adding a time advantage point for the 9-0 shutout.
After making a trip to Lincoln, Nebraska for a Big 10 dual meet with the Cornhuskers Friday night, the Lions return to the friendly confines Sunday afternoon with a Big 10 showdown against the Michigan Wolverines.