It's not often that Rec Hall is still filled for the heavyweight match in an already decided Penn State wrestling dual. But Sunday, most of a sold-out crowd stuck around to watch Jon Gingrich battle Indiana's No. 8 Adam Chalfant, and the heavyweight bout did not disappoint.
Gingrich stunned Chalfant, 6-5, to put a cap on an impressive day for the Nittany Lions, as Penn State opened Big Ten competition by embarrassing Indiana, 52-0.
Penn State raced out to a 24-0 lead on the strength of back-to-back-to-back-to-back pins from 125 pounder Nico Megaludis, 133 pounder Jordan Conaway, 141 pounder Bryan Pearsall and 149 pounder Andrew Alton.
Megaludis stopped sophomore Joe Duca at the 4:38 mark, though he was already leading the match by double digits. Conaway was up next, and the redshirt freshman already had three takedowns, a near fall and a reversal before showing freshman Quin Murphy the lights at 4:43.
The Nittany Lions got six more points from Pearsall, who turned a 5-0 second-period lead into another second-period fall at the 4:32 mark. And finally, Alton, in his first dual meet match of the season, registered the fastest fall of the day at 52 seconds against senior Gene Capezio.
In total, Penn State racked up six pins en route to its largest margin of victory in a Big Ten match. It was also the second-largest margin of victory in PSU history, nearly surpassing a Jan. 25, 1983 dual meet victory over Millersville that ended 54-0.
Match of the Day
There were plenty of exciting performances Sunday, but nothing captured the Rec Hall audience like Gingrich's 6-5 thriller over Chalfant. Gingrich trailed 2-1 heading into the third period, and a quick Chalfant escape moved the deficit to 3-1. But Gingrich escaped to move within one at 3-2, and got his hips over Chalfant for his first lead of the day at 4-3. A quick Chalfant escape tied the match at 4-4, but another Gingrich takedown with less than 30 seconds sent Rec Hall into a frenzy and secured the upset, as Chalfant could only muster an escape in the dying second.
You've got to wrestle the same every match the same way, and wrestle hard. But I definitely had a game plan going in, Gingrich said. What helped a lot was conditioning. I feel like once I started getting into the third period, he was more tired than I was, and that lead to some sloppy shots.
Coach Cael Sanderson hopes the victory inspires confidence in his sophomore product, though stopped short of declaring him the starter.
It's a big win for him, and I hope he realizes and really likes that feeling of winning on the big stage, Sanderson said. The heavyweight decision was one we would have liked to have made a month ago, but we want the guy that's going to perform best out there, and they are really close right now.
Gingrich is platooning with transfer Jimmy Lawson.
With Andrew Alton back in action for Penn State, it marks the first time he and twin brother Dylan have wrestled in the same collegiate lineup. But it does present more than just a small change for the 157-poind Dylan, due to his brother's likelihood for a quick finish.
It does change things a little, because Andrew sometimes has quick matches, and it's not like having [Frank] Molinaro before me when he usually tech'd his kids, Dylan Alton said. So I just have to warm up a match and a half to a match earlier.
The adjustment caused Dylan no harm though, as he methodically worked his way to an 11-6 decision that included four takedowns and a reversal to go with a riding time point.
Fall of the Match
Andrew Alton's pin was lightening fast, and could very easily take home today's honor. But in the interest of variety, we turn to 184 pounder Ed Ruth, who hit a far-side cradle and locked it in to send Indiana's Luke Sheridan to the mat in 1:24. It was textbook Ruth, who flourishes more when he spends less time on the mat.
They Said It
I mean, I think there were a lot of falls obviously, and falls will do some damage on the score. But there were some good matches in there, and we started off well, especially our guys in the lower weights. Nico [Megaludis] [Jordan] Conaway, and [Bryan] Pearsall kept pursuing and continuing to score, and they did a nice job. When you jump out 24-0 lead, its tough to comeback from, and it's not good for the morale, and ours guy took advantage of it. - Sanderson
Penn State finished with a whopping 28-1 take down advantage.
PSU had six falls and a major decision to earn 19 bonus points.
The Nittany Lions return to the mat next Saturday, when Lock Haven comes to town for a 2 p.m. dual.