Penn State won its fourth consecutive team title – and had two individual champs in Ed Ruth and David Taylor -- at the 2014 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City Saturday night.
Going into the finals, it was a three-way team title battle, featuring Penn State, Oklahoma State, and Minnesota all separated by only a handful of points. The Nittany Lions took the lead after Ruth won the 184-pound title by beating Maryland’s Jimmy Sheptock, 7-2, in the second match of the evening… going ahead of the Golden Gophers by a half-point, 105 to 104.5. The title wasn’t officially theirs until the next-to-the-last match, when Oklahoma State 157-pounder Alex Dieringer defeated Minnesota’s Dylan Ness, 13-4, shutting the door on the Gophers’ championship chances. That took some pressure off Taylor, who won the 165-pound crown by shutting out Oklahoma State’s Tyler Caldwell, 6-0, in the evening finale.
In the final tally, Penn State edged Minnesota, 109 to 104.5. (Last year, Cael Sanderson’s crew won the title by a two-point margin over Oklahoma State.)
Both Taylor and Ruth closed out their Penn State careers in winning style. Ruth became the first three-time NCAA champ in more than a century of Nittany Lion wrestling. Taylor, winning his second NCAA title (his first was at the 2012 NCAAs), became only the fifteenth four-time finalist in NCAA history. In addition, Taylor was named the tournament's Outstanding Wrestler, and earned Most Dominant Wrestler honors for the season.
While Penn State’s two finalists won their title bouts, Minnesota’s two title-seekers left Oklahoma City empty-handed. In addition to Ness’ loss at 157, two-time 285-pound champ Tony Nelson failed in his bid to become the Golden Gophers’ first three-time champ at heavyweight, upset by North Carolina State’s Nick Gwiazdowski, 4-1, becoming that school’s third heavyweight champ, joining Sylvester Terkay and the late Tab Thacker.
Oklahoma State had four finalists. Two won titles: Dieringer, and defending 174-pound champ Chris Perry.
Four of the five 2013 NCAA champs who made it to the finals won again. In addition to Perry and Ruth, Jesse Delgado of Illinois successfully defended his 125-pound title against Cornell’s Nahshon Garrett… while Logan Stieber became Ohio State’s first-ever three-time champ, this time at 141.
Missouri’s J’Den Cox won the 197-pound title as a true freshman, just days after turning 19... while fellow frosh while Jason Tsirtsis won the 149-pound championship for Northwestern. Tony Ramos closed out his career at Iowa by winning his first title, at 133.
As with last year, the order of finals matches was shaken up a bit. Instead of starting at 125 and concluding with 285 – a tradition going back to the first NCAAs in 1928 – this year’s finals opened at 174, and concluded with the Taylor-Caldwell match at 165. However, unlike last year, when the decision to conclude with the Kyle Dake-David Taylor 165 finals was announced days in advance, this year, the NCAA announced its decision just five hours before the start of the finals.
Match Results – Finals (presented in order matches were wrestled)
- 174: No. 1 Chris Perry (Oklahoma State) dec. No. 2 Andrew Howe (Oklahoma), 4-0
- 184: No. 2 Ed Ruth (Penn State) dec. No. 1 Jimmy Sheptock (Maryland), 7-2
- 197: No. 2 J'den Cox (Missouri) dec. No. 1 Nick Heflin (Ohio State), 2-1
- Hwt: No. 2 Nick Gwiazdowski (North Carolina State) dec. No. 1 Tony Nelson (Minnesota), 4-1
- 125: No. 1 seed Jesse Delgado (Illinois) dec. No. 2 Nahshon Garrett (Cornell), 3-2
- 133: No. 3 Tony Ramos (Iowa) dec. No. 5 Tyler Graff (Wisconsin), 3-1
- 141: No. 2 Logan Stieber (Ohio State) maj. dec. No. 4 Devin Carter (Virginia Tech), 10-1
- 149: No. 5 Jason Tsirtsis (Northwestern) dec. No. 11 Josh Kindig (Oklahoma State), 3-1
- 157: No. 3 Alex Dieringer (Oklahoma State) dec. No. 9 Dylan Ness (Minnesota), 3-1
- 165: No. 1 David Taylor (Penn State) dec. No. 2 Tyler Caldwell (Oklahoma State), 6-0
Team Standings (Top 10)
- Penn State, 109 team points
- Minnesota, 104.5
- Oklahoma State, 96.5
- Iowa, 78.5
- Edinboro, 62
- Ohio State, 57
- Cornell, 53
- Virginia Tech, 49
- Northwestern, 46
- Oklahoma, 45
Want to know more? Click here for complete results of Saturday morning's medal round (list of 2014 All-Americans). For more detailed recaps of the 2014 NCAA finals, check out InterMat and TheMat.com. And visit the Penn State wrestling website for their account of winning the team title.
Take a look back: For all College Wrestling Examiner articles on the 2014 NCAAs, click here... and check out Mat Bracketology, College Wrestling Examiner's weight-by-weight analysis of seeded wrestlers, by clicking on the Mat Bracketology link.
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