ST. LOUIS - The first day of the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships couldn't have gone much better for local wrestlers.
Indian Valley graduate Nic Bedelyon, who is a senior at Kent State, went 2-0 to reach the quarterfinals at 125 pounds and Penn State's nine wrestlers went a combined 16-2 on the day to help the Nittany Lions hold down first place in the team standings.
The only drawback was that Lewistown graduate Matt Snyder fell short of the quarterfinals, but the Virginia junior did win a match and will return for Friday's second round of consolations.
Kent State’s Nic Bedelyon, an Indian Valley graduate, wrestles Iowa State’s Ryak Finch in the first round of the NCAA?championships in St. Louis Thursday. Bedelyon won 13-2.
University of Virginia’s Matt Snyder, a Lewistown graduate, takes on Oklahoma State University’s Jonni DiJulius, also in the first round. Snyder won 3-2.
Bedelyon, who is just the fifth wrestler in Kent State history to qualify for four NCAA tournaments, needs just one more victory to become an All-American for the second time. He finished eighth in 2009.
On Thursday, Bedelyon - the fifth seed - beat Iowa State's Ryak Finch 13-2 in the opening round, then kept the offense going with a 10-7 victory over No. 12 Steve Bonnano of Hofstra.
Bedelyon, who will face No. 4 Jesse Delgado of Illinois in the quarterfinal round, was not made available to reporters.
In the other half of the bracket at 125, Snyder lost 4-3 in tiebreaker to sixth-seeded Frank Perrelli of Cornell.
"I was a little disappointed in the way I wrestled," Snyder said. "I wrestled that kid last year at nationals and beat him 13-5, so when I saw the brackets come out, I knew it was going to be a pretty good matchup."
Snyder scored the opening takedown, but was reversed and Perelli rode him out to earn a 1 1/2-minute advantage in riding time. That proved to be crucial. Despite Snyder's third-period escape, he gave up the riding-time point that allowed Perelli to tie it at 3.
After a scoreless overtime period, Perelli escaped in the first half of the tiebreaker, then held Snyder down for the victory.
"It was frustrating because I beat him in his positions - on his feet," Snyder said. "I'm not good on my feet; he's good on his feet. I took hm down and he beat me on top. I wasn't expecting it. He came prepared in that perspective. I wasn't expecting it and it was kind of tough."
Snyder beat Johnni DiJulius of Ohio State 3-2 in the opening round thanks to a riding-time point.
Snyder, who reached the round of 12 last season but fell one match short of earning All-American status, will face Jared Germaine of Eastern Michigan today. He will need to win three consecutive matches in order to become an All-American.
"I've got to take it match by match and let go of what happened," he said. "If I don't, then it's going to be a short tournament. I've just got to get rid of that in my mind and just get ready to go tomorrow morning and not look past anyone."
Penn State has seven wrestlers in the quarterfinals: Nico Megaludis (125 pounds), Frank Molinaro (149), Dylan Alton (157), David Taylor (165), Ed Ruth (174), Quentin Wright (184) and Cameron Wade (285). Frank Martellotti (133) and Morgan McIntosh (197) were the only Nittany Lions to lose; both remain alive in the tournament.
The defending national champs have 38.5 points to lead the team race. Minnesota is second with 33 points.
"I think it's a team race here," Penn State coach Cael Sanderson said. "Everyone's got their individual goals, but tomorrow's the big day. Who knows? It might come down to the end. It's a tight race, and that's what makes it fun."
The Nittany Lions got a big win at 125. Megaludis, a 10th seed as a true freshman, knocked off seventh-seeded Jarrod Patterson of Oklahoma. Megaludis trailed 3-0 in the third period before escaping to make it 3-1. After a scramble, Megaludis ended up in a strange position where he was credited with a takedown and three backpoints.
"I don't know why he didn't let go of it earlier," Megaludis said. "I was just counting up the riding time."
The bonus point gave Megaludis a 7-3 victory and a date with second-seeded Zach Sanders of Minnesota. Another upset there would put Megaludis in the semifinals and make him an All-American for the first time.
"It's not about All-American," he said. "I ain't an All-American yet. I want to win this. I still have three matches to do that."