It was déjà vu for Penn State in 2012, as the Nittany Lions grabbed their second consecutive team championship – along with three individual titles – at the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships in March.
It was the third team title in a century of wrestling in at the State College, Pa. school, the first being in 1953.
Coached by Cael Sanderson, Penn State had a wrestler in half of the finals matches. Three left St. Louis as first-time champions: Frank Molinaro at 149 pounds, David Taylor at 165, and Ed Ruth at 174.
Molinaro, nicknamed “Frank the Tank” because of his compact, muscular body-build and hard-charging style, concluded his college career by defeating Big Ten rival Dylan Ness of Minnesota, 4-1, in their title match at 149. Taylor, a sophomore, scored an incredible nine takedowns in less than six minutes on his way to winning a 22-7 technical fall at 5:55 over Lehigh’s Brandon Hatchett in the 165 finals. Like teammate Taylor, fellow sophomore Ruth also won in dominating style, earning a 13-2 major decision victory over Stanford’s Nick Amuchastegui in the championship at 174.
Making their 2012 titles all the sweeter, Molinaro and Taylor had both overcome devastating losses in the finals of the 2011 NCAAs.
In addition to his 165-pound crown, Taylor left St. Louis with additional hardware: Outstanding Wrestler honors, the first-ever NCAA Most Dominant Wrestler award, and the Gorriaran Award, presented to the wrestler who has scored the most falls at the least amount of time at the NCAAs. The St. Paris, Ohio native got four pins in 8:46.
Penn State’s performance at the past two NCAAs – along with successful recruiting efforts – has many college wrestling fans uttering the word “dynasty.” Back-to-back team titles do not a dynasty make… but it could well be the foundation for a lasting legacy to someday rival those of Oklahoma State and University of Iowa, with 34 and 22 team titles, respectively.
Results -- Finals:
- 125 pounds: No. 1 seed Matt McDonough (Iowa) dec. No. 10 Nico Megaludis (Penn State), 4-1
- 133: No. 2 Logan Stieber (Ohio State) dec. No. 1 Jordan Oliver (Oklahoma State), 4-3
- 141: No. 1 Kellen Russell (Michigan) dec. No. 3 Montell Marion (Iowa), 6-4 SV
- 149: No. 1 Frank Molinaro (Penn State) dec. No. 7 Dylan Ness (Minnesota), 4-1
- 157: No. 1 Kyle Dake (Cornell) dec. No. 2 Derek St. John (Iowa), 4-1
- 165: No. 1 David Taylor (Penn State) tech fall. No. 11 Brandon Hatchett (Lehigh), 22-7 (5:55)
- 174: No. 1 Ed Ruth (Penn State) maj. dec. No. 3 Nick Amuchastegui (Stanford), 13-2
- 184: No. 4 Steve Bosak (Cornell) dec. No. 6 Quentin Wright (Penn State), 4-2 SV
- 197: No. 1 Cam Simaz (Cornell) dec. No. 2 Chris Honeycutt (Edinboro), 7-5
- Hwt: No. 2 Tony Nelson (Minnesota) dec. No. 4 Zach Rey (Lehigh), 4-1
Final Team Standings – Top Ten:
1. Penn State: 143 team points
2. Minnesota: 117.5
3. Iowa: 107.5
4. Cornell: 102.5
5. Ohio State: 68.5
6. Oklahoma State: 66
7. Illinois: 62
8. Lehigh: 61
9. Northwestern: 42.5
10. Oregon State: 40.5
Want to know more about the 2012 NCAAs? Click on the "2012 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships" link to see links to all the College Wrestling Examiner stories about the Nationals, including write-ups about each title match.
College Wrestling Examiner’s Year in Review: For the fourth straight year, College Wrestling Examiner will be taking a look at the Top Ten Stories of 2012. Now through the end of this year, we’ll be posting our choices for the ten most significant stories in the world of collegiate wrestling.
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