As Penn State football fans there are a select few teams that bring Nittany Nation together in unity rooting for a big win. Sure we want to win every game but there are certain teams you really, really hate to lose to and really love to beat. The Ohio States and Notre Dames of the world just bring on a whole new level of fandom and a whole new level of satisfaction when ‘we’ beat them. I’ve been watching Penn State football since the 80’s and my most memorable game was Ohio State in 2005. It was just special in so many ways and I’ll never forget it.
As Penn State Wrestling fans though, there’s one team and one team only that bring out the best in us, and that team is Iowa. For decades, they were the king of wrestling, they can’t build a trophy case large enough to hold all their national championships and I can’t even count the number of Big Ten championships they’ve had. Beating them is beating the best in the sport, heck you even love to hate their coach with his mat-side antics and referee intimidation that borders on insanity. Yes, Iowa ranked #2 coming into a packed Rec Hall is about as good as it gets for a dual meet and we'll be treated to just that 2PM on Sunday.
|125||# 8 Nico Megaludis||#2 Matt McDonough|
|133||Frank Martellotti||#2 Tony Ramos|
|141||Bryan Pearsall||#3 Montell Marion|
|149||#1 Frank Molinaro||Mike Kelly|
|157||#8 Dylan Alton||Nick Moore|
|165||#1 David Taylor||#6 Mike Evans|
|174||#2 Ed Ruth||#9 Ethan Lofthouse|
|184||#2 Quentin Wright||Jeremy Fahler|
|197||#12 Morgan McIntosh||Grant Gambrall|
|285||#6 Cameron Wade||#12 Bobby Telford|
Penn State wrestled their worst dual of the season losing to Iowa 22-13. Iowa has dominated the series with a 25-6-2 record against the good guys. Penn State has lost 4 in a row against Iowa with their last victory in Rec Hall in 2007.
Match breakdowns and predictions
Iowa will wrestle #7 Ohio State tonight so we’ll get a better feel for the lineup. I usually don’t break down the matches in a weight by weight manner because it can get too long but this dual deserves some extra attention so here goes:
125: On paper this looks like a heavy Iowa lean. McDonough is coming off a major decision of Northwestern’s Levi Mele, who Megaludis beat by regular decision. McDonough is a pinner and has considerable more experience than Megaludis. If Nico is too amped up he could find himself on his back. There’s a huge difference between being aggressive and being too aggressive, hopefully Nico comes out the former. But Nico has gotten better and better as the season moves on and he’s a wrestler that is very similar to McDonough, both have similar body types, both are aggressive and both are extremely well conditioned. McDonough is good at wearing wrestlers down and beating them in the 3rd, that won’t happen to Nico. If Nico stays off his back this could be a good one.
McDonough by decision: Team Score: PSU 0 – Iowa 3
133: If this was later in the year and Martellotti had some more bouts under his belt I would bet this would be close. But Ramos is just too good and Frank hasn’t wrestled anyone yet and hasn’t looked that great against lousy competition.
Ramos by Major: Team Score: PSU 0 – Iowa 7
141: Pearsall is wrestling better and better and is a tough out, but Marion is one of the nation’s best at 141. If Pearsall can do some damage on top, he’ll be able to keep it close but Marion is just too much for Pearsall right now.
Marion by Major: Team Score: PSU 0 – Iowa 11
149: Here’s where Penn State needs bonus and unfortunately Frank isn’t a big point scorer. He can score big but he’s more of a grinder who gets his opponents down and wears them down on the mat. Kelly is by no means a fish, he’s got a 12-5 record, but Frank needs at least a major. As is the case for Iowa when they are outmatched, look for Kelly to try and slow Molinaro down and keep it close.
Frank by decision: Team Score: PSU 3 – Iowa 11
157: Both the Iowa and Penn State websites have Nick Moore ‘officially’ listed as the starter at 157 but all the rumors point to All-American Derek St. John returning this weekend. For our purposes, we’ll assume St. John returns. Alton is improving and finds himself ranked 8th as he slowly moves up the rankings. St. John will be rusty but he’s a great wrestler and is ranked #2. He lost to David Taylor every time he wrestled him last year but kept closing the gap. Alton will have his hands full.
St. John by decision: Team Score: PSU 3 – Iowa 14
165: Normally I would be extremely confident that Magic Man David Taylor could get bonus points no matter who he wrestles but redshirt freshman Mike Evans is pretty impressive. He’s 18-2 on the season with 11 of those wins by major or better with 5 pins although he was majored once. This is their first meeting of course, and if the young Evans comes out firing I think he can keep it close with Taylor. Look for Taylor to pull away in the 3rd with a possible major decision late.
Taylor by Major: Team Score: PSU 7 – Iowa 14
174: Lofthouse is 14-4 on the season losing all 4 by regular decision including an overtime loss. He’s moved up to #9 in the country after beating former 9th-ranked Lee Munster of Northwestern. Having said all that, Ruth is rolling right now. He was just named Big Ten Wrestler of the week, is 19-0 with 15 of those wins by the bonus point variety with 6 pins and 6 tech falls. If I were a betting man, I’d put good money on bonus points.
Ruth by Major: Team Score: PSU11 – Iowa 14
184: The tail end of death row, Penn State’s three big weights of 165, 174 and 184, has the Lions best chance of 6 points. After a disappointing start to the season, Quentin has moved back to 2nd place. Q has 16 wins with only two of those by regular decision and he’s tied for the team lead in pins with 9. In the last three duals, Iowa has sent out three different wrestlers at 184. Translation: this is Iowa’s weakest weight. Quentin needs a big throw and pin here.
Wright by fall: Team Score: PSU17 – Iowa 14
197: Grant Gambrall was once ranked this season, but is sitting at 7-4 out of the rankings. Morgan hasn’t been wrestling great as of late and seems to be quite timid. McIntosh has all the tools to be a top-ten wrestler but doesn’t have the confidence yet. This match worries me but I think Morgan’s athleticisim wins out in the end.
McIntosh by close decision: Team Score: PSU20 – Iowa 14
285: Another match that looks like a heavy Penn State lean but I’m not convinced. Telford is coming off a 3 match losing streak and Wade is the higher ranked wrestler but we just don’t know which Cam will show up. I hope the match doesn’t come down to heavyweight because this matchup scares me. Last season Wade barely beat Blake Rasing by a score of 1-0 in the Iowa dual. Cam seems to pucker up in big duals.
Telford by close decision: Team Score: PSU20 – Iowa 17
Final team score Penn State 20-Iowa 17.
This match could go either way with the key being bonus points. If either side gives up a pin, and it’s a possibility for both sides, it will spell doom. The first 3 weights are locks for Iowa as is Death Row and Molinaro for Penn State. The rest are borderline tossups and could go either way. One thing’s for sure, Iowa thrives on big dual meets, hopefully Penn State is ready.
Ed. Note: I just checked and this dual will be broadcast on the BTN on tape delay at 9PM Sunday.