The Penn State Nittany Lion wrestling team rode a strong and balanced performance to its fourth straight Big Ten title Sunday, sparked by two historic individual champions. Penn State out-distanced second place Iowa by 5.5 points. Coach Cael Sanderson's squad took the title with 140.5 points while the Hawkeyes were close behind at 135.0.
Penn State also returns home with its first ever four-time individual champions as seniors David Taylor and Ed Ruth made school and conference history with final, historic, title runs. All 10 Nittany Lion wrestlers are headed to the NCAA Championships in Oklahoma City March 20-22 for a second straight year as Penn State now sets its sights on a fourth straight NCAA crown.
Taylor was named the 2014 Big Ten Wrestler of the Year, the third time he has won the honor. The Lion senior also pulled in his first Big Ten Championship Outstanding Wrestler honor as well. Sanderson won his fourth-straight Big Ten Coach of the Year award.
In a tight team race heading into the Big Ten finals, Penn State led Iowa by 128.5-128, and each team had five finalists. While both squads picked up key points in the placing bouts, Penn State use those consolation points and the title turns by Taylor and Ruth to roll to victory.
Taylor, the No. 1 seed at 165, took on second-seed Nick Moore of Iowa in the finals. With Penn State trailing Iowa at the time of the bout by 3.5 points, Taylor went to work. The duo traded early shots with Taylor breaking through at the 1:45 mark for an early 2-0 lead. The Lion senior then turned Moore for three back points to open up a 5-0 lead with :45 left on the clock in what became a 14-5 major decisino.
Ruth used 3:35 in riding time to earn a 10-2 major decision over Iowa's Ethan Lofthouse in the finals.
Nico Megaludis (125) and Zain Retherford (141), and Morgan McIntosh (197) lost title bouts.
Junior Dylan Alton, the No. 5 seed at 157, suffered a 13-4 loss to Illinois' Zac Brunson in the seventh place bout and took eighth. Alton went 2-3 at the tournament with a major and heads to Oklahoma City with an 18-5 mark.
Penn State went 29-14 overall, collecting two pins, two tech falls, ten majors and an injury default for 21 bonus points. Penn State became the fifth team in conference history to win four straight team titles, the first since Iowa from 1995-1998.
The NCAA announces the full and final NCAA brackets and seeds on Wednesday night.
1: PENN STATE, 140.5; 2: Iowa, 135.0; 3: Minnesota, 118.5; 4: Ohio State, 86.5; 5: Nebraska, 79.0; 6: Illinois, 78.5; 7: Wisconsin, 73.0; 8: Michigan, 71.5; 9: Northwestern, 58.0; 10: Indiana, 37.0; 11: Purdue, 34.5; 12: Michigan State, 21.5
125: Jesse Delgado, Illinois, dec. Nico Megaludis, Penn State, 3-2 OT (TB2; 0:15 RT); 133: Tony Ramos, Iowa, dec. Tyler Graff, Wisconsin, 2-1.; 141: Logan Stieber, Ohio state, dec. Zain Retherford, Penn State, 7-3. 149: Jason Tsirtsis, Northwestern, dec. Jake Sueflohn, Nebraska, 6-2. 157: James Green, Nebraska, dec. Derek St. John, Iowa, 7-4. 165: David Taylor, Penn State, maj. dec. Nick Moore, Iowa, 14-5. 174: Robert Kokesh, Nebraska, dec. Mike Evans, Iowa, 6-4. 184: Ed Ruth, Penn State, maj. dec. Ethan Lofthourse, Iowa, 10-2. 197: Nick Heflin, Ohio State, dec. Morgan McIntosh, Penn State, 5-3 OT. s.v. 2 285: Tony Nelson, Minnesota, dec. Adam Chalfant, Indiana, 2-1 OT t.b. OW: David Taylor, Penn State, 165-pound champion.