Last season, Penn State eked out a 1 point Big Ten Championship victory, this season they doubled up but made sure it wasn’t as close. The Lions scored 149.0 points, easily beating 2nd place Minnesota’s score of 134.0 points and 3rd place Iowa’s 126.0. Penn State crowned three individual champs in Frank Molinaro, David Taylor, and Ed Ruth. Molinaro was named Co-Outstanding Wrestler with Michigan's Kellen Russell, and Cael Sanderson was named 2012 Big Ten Coach of the Year for the second straight year. Penn State qualified 9 wrestlers, with 141 pounder Bryan Pearsall the only wrestler to not finish high enough to automatically qualify. There’s still an outside shot for Pearsall to get one of the wild cards that will be enounced Wednesday.
It wasn’t all great news, there was some disappointment scattered in with the championship. 5 of the 10 wrestlers finished below their pre-seed and outside of the big three, no one else came close to the finals. Quentin Wright was upset by #7 Josh Ihnen of Nebraska a wrestler Q beat earlier in the season and Wade lost to Bobby Telford of Iowa who wasn’t even the Hawkeye’s starting heavyweight a couple months ago. Nico Megaludis lost a tough bout to No. 2 Zach Sanders of Minnesota and then got caught and pinned in overtime against No. 10 Levi Mele of Northwestern in the semifinals of the consolation bracket.
Even though he may not make it to the NCAA’s, Bryan Pearsall did finish a strong 7th place getting bonus points in two of his bouts including a pin to start the tournament. Every point counted and Bryan did his part. Martellotti finishing seventh is huge for Penn State, any points he gets in Nationals are bonus because he wasn't expected to finish high enough to qualify, it was a good hard fought tournament for those two guys.
Without a doubt the big story was the dominance of the big three. Ruth, majored all three of the wrestlers he faced and all three were ranked in the top-10. Taylor had a fall, a tech fall, and two majors in his four bouts, but the best tournament by far was Molinaro’s. Tank pinned his first opponent and had two tech falls against the others. Due to image copyright laws, I can’t post a great pic someone took of Frank but you really must see this photo from the finals. They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, I’d say this one is worth about 10 times that.
Overall, it was a great tournament and more importantly, sets the stage for Nationals. Molinaro and Taylor will most likely get the top seed in and Ed Ruth will probably get the 2nd. All three are wrestling at the top of their game right now and I don’t see anyone standing in their way. Quentin got tripped up a bit but I think he still has a good shot at making the finals at Nationals. I don’t think Pearsall will get the wildcard, if he had finished 6th, I think it’s a no-brainer but two spots out of the automatic qualifier is a tough pill to swallow. Congrats to Cael and the boys, now let’s go get another national championship.