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Penn State Wrestling Crowned 2016 Big Ten Tournament Champions

Congratulations to Zain Retherford, Bo Nickal, and Morgan McIntosh, your three Big Ten Champions!

Photo courtesy of gopsusports
Photo courtesy of gopsusports

It's often been said that it's tougher to win the Big Ten tournament than it is to win the NCAA tournament. That's a testament to wrestling in the toughest conference in the nation, as well as the familiarity that these wrestlers have with each other. Keeping that in mind, when Penn State had their stretch of four national titles (and four Big Ten tourney titles), the biggest margin of victory they had at the conference tournament was 15 points (over Minnesota), in their 2012 win behind conference crowns for now-assistant coach Frank Molinaro, David Taylor, and Ed Ruth. During that streak, they also won by 1 in 2011 (over Iowa), 12 in 2013 (over Minnesota), and 6.5 in 2014 (over Iowa).

By comparison, in 2016, the Nittany Lions bested the 2nd place Hawkeyes by 23.5 points. The championship was decided before the clock struck four and the Big Ten Network decided to start their regular coverage. Also by comparison? Last year's co-champs, Iowa and Ohio State, won the title with 120 point each. Penn State had 133 points on the first day.

The only time Penn State wasn't in first place all weekend was after the first session, when the Nebraska Cornhuskers were winning. That pace was unsustainable for the Huskers, who had exactly no wrestlers seeded #1, and only one wrestler make it to the finals--the fourth seeded TJ Dudley, who upset Michigan's Domenic Abounader to make it to the final session.

This is a phenomenal wrestling squad, led by a coach who won yet another Big Ten Coach of the Year crown. This is a squad that had one returning Big Ten champion from any previous squad (Morgan McIntosh, who won last year), but made every other team look foolish for showing up. Four of the six finalists for the Nittany Lions (Nico Megaludis, Zain Retherford, Jason Nolf, Bo Nickal) redshirted last season, and only two (Megaludis, McIntosh) were seniors whose eligibility in a Penn State singlet is exhausted after this season.

It's shaping up to be a good run for the Nittany Lions yet again; in this year, the Lions had 3 Big Ten champions, three runners up, and one fourth, fifth and eighth place wrestlers. They had the most finalists they'd ever had, and two of the three champions will be back next year.

Final Team Scores

Penn State 150.5
Iowa 127
Ohio State 126
Nebraska 118
Rutgers 106.5
Michigan 89.5
Illinois 87
Wisconsin 67.5
Minnesota 50.5
Purdue 34
Indiana 30.5
Northwestern 11.5
Michigan State 10.5
Maryland 7.5

How We Got to 150.5 (a half point shy of the 2013 PSU record)

125: Nico Megaludis

first round: 15-5 Major over MSU's Mitch Rogalinger

quarterfinals: 10-2 Major over Wisconsin's Johnny Jiminez

semifinals: 4-3 Decision (TB1) over Iowa's Thomas Gilman

finals: 3-1 (SV1) loss to Ohio State's Nathan Tomasello

133: Jordan Conaway

first round: 12-3 Major over Minnesota's Sam Brancale

quarterfinals: 10-5 loss to Wisconsin's Ryan Taylor

consolation round 2: 11-3 Major over Indiana's Alonzo Shepherd

consolation round 3: 8-2 Decision over Ohio State's Johnni DiJulius

consolation semifinals: 6-4 Decision over Nebraksa's Eric Montoya

3rd place bout: 5-4 loss to Wisconsin's Ryan Taylor

141: Jimmy Gulibon

first round BYE

quarterfinals: 3-2 (TB2) Decision over Ohio State's Micah Jordan

semifinals: 6-5 Decision over Michigan State's Javier Gasca

finals: 9-0 loss to Rutgers' Anthony Ashnault

149: Zain Retherford - Big Ten Wrestler of the Year, BTN's Cliff Keen Outstanding Wrestler of the Tournament

first round: WBF (2:06) over Illinois' Kyle Langenderfer

quarterfinals: 14-4 Major over Minnesota's Jake Short

semifinals: WBF (2:45) over Michigan's Alec Pantaleo

finals: 4-0 Decision over Iowa's Brandon Sorensen

157: Jason Nolf - Big Ten Freshman of the Year

first round: WBF (2:53) over Purdue's Doug Welch

quarterfinals: Tech Fall (6:21, 20-5) over Minnesota's Brandon Kingsley

semifinals: Tech Fall (6:02, 21-3) over Iowa's Edwin Cooper

finals: 4-3 (TB2) loss to Illinois' Isaiah Martinez

165: Geno Morelli

first round: 6-2 Decision over Minnesota's Brandon Krone

quarterfinals: 3-2 loss to Ohio State's Bo Jordan

consolation round 2: 9-3 Decision over Indiana's Bryce Martin

consolation round 3: loss by fall (:37) to Nebraska's Austin Wilson

7th place bout: 4-2 loss to Iowa's Patrick Rhoads

174: Bo Nickal

first round BYE

quarterfinals: 15-3 Major over Rutgers' Phil Bakuckas

semifinals: WBF (2:28) over Ohio State's Myles Martin

finals: 18-9 Major over Illinois' Zac Brunson

184: Matt McCutcheon

first round BYE

quarterfinals: 6-2 Decision over Illinois' Jeff Koepke

semifinals: 6-1 loss to Iowa's Sammy Brooks

consolation semifinals: 4-1 loss to Rutgers' Nick Gravina

5th place bout: 3-1 Decision over Illinois' Jeff Koepke

197: Morgan McIntosh

first round: WBF (1:27) over Indiana's Jake Masengale

quarterfinals: WBF (1:40) over MSU's Jacob Cooper

semifinals: 8-2 Decision over Nebraska's Aaron Studebaker

finals: 3-2 Decision over Iowa's Nathan Burak

285: Nick Nevills

first round: 4-2 loss to Wisconsin's Brock Horwath

consolation round 1: 9-1 Major over Indiana's Garrett Goldman

consolation round 2: 5-3 loss to Illinois' Brooks Black