Short-Handed Penn State Storms Back for 19-19 Tie at No. 24 Pittsburgh

With two starters out, Penn State wins five straight in the middle to secure tie.

PITTSBURGH – Wrestling without two starters, a shorthanded Penn State wrestling team stormed back from an early 9-0 deficit to win five straight bouts in the middle of the dual to walk away with a 19-19 tie at No. 24 Pittsburgh on Saturday. The Lions, ranked No. 14 nationally, already forfeiting at 197, were dealt a serious blow in warm ups when sophomore heavyweight Cameron Wade (Twinsburg, Ohio) was injured and could not wrestle.

Pittsburgh came storming out of the gates when freshman Anthony Zanetta stunned No. 7 Brad Pataky (Clearfield, Pa.) 15-9. Pitt added decisions at 133 and 141, putting Penn State down 9-0 after three bouts. All-American Frank Molinaro (Barnegat, N.J.) got a 13-4 major over Pitt\’s Eric Albright at 149 and All-American Cyler Sanderson (Heber City, Utah) got a four-point (no back points) technical fall (26-11 at the 6:49 mark) over the Panthers\’ Mark Powell. Those two wins cut the Pitt lead to 9-8. A third Lion All-American, senior Dan Vallimont (Lake Hopatcong, N.J.), gave Penn State a 12-9 lead with a 16-5 major over Panther Karl DeCiantis at 165. The wins from the sixth-, third- and ninth-ranked wrestlers helped Penn State come back from Pitt\’s early flurry.

Freshman Justin Ortega (Oxford, Pa.) posted what may have been the most critical win of the night, however, with a 4-2 upset win over Pitt senior David Sullivan at 174. The win put Penn State up 15-9. No. 14 David Erwin (Urbana, Ohio) then gave Penn State a chance for the win or a draw with an impressive 13-4 major over Pitt\’s Zac Thomusseit at 184, putting Penn State up 19-9. Penn State gave up a forfeit at 197 and watched its lead slip to 19-15 heading into the final bout. With Wade injured, senior Brendan Herlihy (Fairfield, Conn.) made his Penn State dual meet debut against No. 12 Ryan Tomei of Pittsburgh. Herlihy fought valiantly, trying to secure the dual meet win by keeping the bout to a decision, but the ranked Panther notched a takedown with :04 left to post a 10-1 win, getting the major, and forcing a 19-19 final in the dual.

Even with two starters out, Penn State dominated the takedown battle with a 28-10 final total. Each team won five bouts and notched four bonus points, with Penn State picking up three majors and a four-point tech fall while Pitt got three on the forfeit and one on the final major.

Penn State is now 5-1-1 while Pittsburgh moves to 6-1-1. The Nittany Lions return to action next Sunday when the squad heads to Reno, Nev., for the Reno Tournament of Champions. The one-day, team scored tournament begins at 7 a.m. Eastern in Reno. Penn State\’s next home dual is set for Jan. 22 when it hosts Illinois at 7 p.m. in Rec Hall. Single event tickets will cost $8 for adults and $6 for youth. Group sales are available once again for groups of 15 people or more. Group prices are $4 in advance and $5 walk-up. Fans can purchase tickets by calling 1.800.NITTANY between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays. All Penn State events will once again air live on Forever Broadcasting\’s WRSC?(1390 AM) or 3WZ (95.3 FM) and on as well. The 2009-10 Penn State Wrestling season is presented by The Family Clothesline.

#14 Penn State 19, #24 Pittsburgh 19
Pittsburgh, Pa., December 12, 2009
125: Anthony Zanetta PT dec. #7 Brad Pataky PSU, 15-9, 0-3
133: Jimmy Conroy PT dec. Bryan Pearsall PSU, 7-3, 0-6
141: #13 Tyler Nuaman PIT dec. Colby Pisani PSU, 5-2, 0-9
149: #6 Frank Molinaro PSU maj. dec. Eric Albright PT, 13-4, 4-9
157: #3 Cyler Sanderson PSU tech. fall (4-pt) Ryan Goodman PT, 26-11 (6:49), 8-9
165: #9 Dan Vallimont PSU maj. dec. Karl DeCiantis PT, 16-5, 12-9
174: Justin Ortega PSU dec. David Sullivan PT, 4-2, 15-9
184: #14 David Erwin PSU maj. dec. Zac Thomusseit PT, 13-4, 19-9
197: #18 Matt Wilps PT win by forfeit, 19-15
HWT: #12 Ryan Tomei PT maj. dec. Brendan Herlihy PSU, 10-1, 19-19

Attendance: 1,104
Records: Penn State 5-1-1, Pittsburgh 6-1-1
Up Next for Penn State: at Reno Tournament of Champions

125: Junior Brad Pataky (Clearfield, Pa.), ranked No. 7 at 125, battled Pittsburgh\’s Anthony Zanetta. Pataky scored literally off the opening whistle, taking a 2-0 lead two seconds in with a double leg. Pataky then put together a strong ride, trying to turn a spiral ride into back points, but Zanetta countered, worked his way out and reversed Pataky to tie the bout. Zanetta then added three back points and took a 5-2 lead with 1:09 left in the first period. Zanetta added three more near fall points off a reset to up his lead to 8-2. Pataky escaped with :30 left to cut Zanetta\’s lead to 8-3 after one period. Pataky chose down to start the second period and steadily worked his way to his feet and escaped to an 8-4 deficit with 1:34 left in the period. Pataky forced a scramble with a double leg, but Zanetta was able to work his way around Pataky to get the takedown and up his lead to 10-4 with :34 left in the period. A Zanetta ride-out gave the Panther a 10-4 lead with 1:05 in riding time heading into the final period. Zanetta chose down to start the third and quickly escaped. Pataky then took Zanetta down and cut the lead to 12-6 with 1:10 left after a Zanetta escape. Zanetta added another takedown, countering a Pataky shot to take a 14-7 lead with :35 left. Pataky added a takedown to cut the lead to 14-9 but Zanetta was able to escape and post a stunning 15-9 upset of Pataky, giving Pitt a 3-0 lead.

133: Freshman Bryan Pearsall (Lititz, Pa.) met Pitt\’s Jimmy Conroy. Conroy notched the first takedown, going up 2-0 early. The Panther then put together a strong ride, forcing Pearsall into a stall warning early in the period. Conroy rode Pearsall out to lead 2-0 with 2:52 in riding time. Conroy chose neutral to begin the second stanza. The duo traded shots during the first half of period number two, with neither wrestler finding an opening until Conroy countered a Pearsall single leg to take a 4-0 lead with :44 left in the period. Another ride out gave Conroy a 4-0 lead with a guaranteed riding time point entering the third period. Pearsall chose top to begin the third period and began working to turn Conroy for a pinning combination. But Conroy fought through a Pearsall turning chance for a reversal and a 6-1 (after a Pearsall escape). Pearsall got his first takedown at the :30 mark, but the damage was already done and Conroy posted a 7-3 win. The decision put Pitt up 6-0.

141: Penn State sophomore Colby Pisani (Ridgway, Pa.) met No. 13 Tyler Nauman in a rematch of a Nittany Lion Open match last Sunday, one in which Pisani upset Nauman in Rec Hall. Pisani was the aggressor early, working a steady offense for an early scoring chance on the edge of the mat. But Nauman was able to step out of bounds and force a reset at the period\’s midway point. Pisani gained control of Nauman\’s left ankle and nearly got a takedown at the :40 mark. But the ranked Panther was able to counter and keep things scoreless headed into the second period. Nauman chose down to start the second period and escaped when Pisani aggravated an injury suffered last night and walked off the mat in pain. The Lion sophomore walked back to the center of the mat trailing 1-0 with 1:40 left. Pisani continued to pressure Nauman, keeping the Panther stepping back and setting the bout\’s tempo. Trailing 1-0 heading into the third period, Pisani chose down to start the stanza. But Nauman turned Pisani for three near fall points before Pisani reversed the Panther in a mad flurry off the opening whistle. Nauman escaped and led 5-2 with 1:02 left in the bout. Pisani worked frantically for takedown but Nauman was able to play defense and walk away with a hard-fought 5-2 win, putting the Panthers up 9-0.

149: All-American Frank Molinaro (Barnegat, N.J.), ranked No. 6 at 149, met Panther Eric Albright. Albright came out of the gates early, getting a double leg takedown to take a 2-0 lead over Molinaro just ten seconds into the bout. Molinaro quickly escaped and began looking for his first takedown. But Albright was able to block off every Molinaro shot and keep his slim lead. Molinaro took a slight shot in front of the Panther bench only to have Albright counter the move and get a second takedown to lead 4-2 after a Molinaro escape with :50 left. Molinaro quickly got in on a high single but the Lion All-American was hurt during the scramble, forcing action to a halt and leading to an extended injury timeout with :40 left. Albright would carry that 4-2 lead into the second period. Molinaro chose down to start the second period and escaped to a 4-3 deficit with 1:40 left. The Lion then used his standard high double leg to take a 5-4 lead with his first takedown at the 1:30 mark. Molinaro then locked in on a split scissors to turn Albright for three near fall points and take an 8-4 lead into the third period. Molinaro, wincing in pain, added another takedown to up his lead to 10-4 with 1:05 left. He then added a two point near fall to up his lead to 12-4 and move his riding time edge over a minute. The ride-out and riding time point gave Molinaro a 13-4 major, cutting Pitt\’s lead to 9-4.

157: All-American Cyler Sanderson (Heber City, Utah), ranked No. 3 at 157, faced off against Pitt\’s Mark Powell. Sanderson wasted no time in taking a lead getting a takedown at the 2:43 mark to go up by two early. Sanderson then cut Powell and began looking for another takedown. But it was Powell that took down Sanderson and the bout was tied 3-3 after a quick Cyler escape. The Lion All-American then added his second takedown with a high double to lead 5-3 with just over a minute gone in the period. Sanderson added a third takedown at the 1:05 mark and led 7-5 after cutting Powell loose. A low ankle pick gave Sanderson a fourth takedown and a 9-5 lead with :30 left. The Nittany Lion then rode Powell out and carried that lead, with 1:47 in riding time, into the second period. Powell chose down to start the second period and was cut loose by Sanderson early, only to be taken down again by Sanderson, who led 11-7 after another Powell escape. Sanderson picked up another point on a second Pitt stall and then added a sixth takedown to lead 14-7 as the period moved under a minute. Sanderson cut Powell loose and picked up a seventh takedown to up his lead to 16-8 with a secured riding time point in hand. Sanderson chose down to start the third period and escaped to a 17-8 lead. He added another quick takedown, cut Powell loose and then picked up another stall point to lead 20-9. Sanderson notched one more takedown, upping his lead to 22-9 with 1:10 left. The Lion senior nearly turned Powell for back points, but Powell escaped. Sanderson added two more takedowns, the final with :11 left, to post the 26-11 technical fall at the 6:49 mark. The tech fall was only worth four points as no back points were scored and the Lions trailed 9-8.

165: All-American Dan Vallimont (Lake Hopatcong, N.J.), ranked No. 9 at 165, took on Panther sophomore Karl DeCiantis. Vallimont took an early 2-0 lead with a takedown at the 2:10 mark. Vallimont cut DeCiantis loose with 1:00 left, looking for another takedown, but the Panther was able to play defense and force action to the second period. Leading 2-1 with 1:06 in riding time, Vallimont chose down to start the second period and escaped in just four seconds to lead 3-1. Vallimont attacked DeCiantis repeatedly, forcing the Panther into a stall warning and then getting another takedown at the 1:15 mark to take a 5-2 lead after cutting him loose. The Lion All-American added another takedown and cut and led 7-3 with :50 left. He added another takedown and cut DeCiantis loose with :30 left and then used his head outside single to notch another takedown with :15 left. The four takedown period gave Vallimont an 11-4 lead with 1:50 in riding time heading to the third period. DeCiantis chose down to start the final period and was cut loose by Vallimont to an 11-5 deficit. Vallimont used a beautiful outside trip to take a 13-5 lead with 1:20 left and a secured riding time point. Vallimont picked up a stall point to move out to a 14-5 lead while trying to turn the Panther for back points. Vallimont could not turn DeCiantis but would pick up another stall point and the riding time point to post the 16-5 major decision. The four points put Penn State up 12-9.

174: Freshman Justin Ortega (Oxford, Pa.) took to the mat at 174 to meet Pitt senior David Sullivan. The young Lion set the early temp, forcing Sullivan back to the edge of the mat for the bulk of the first period. But the Nittany Lion\’s strong effort could not break through Sullivan\’s defense and action moved to the second period in a scoreless tie. Sullivan chose down to start the second period and put together a solid ride, maintaining control of the senior Panther for 1:30 of the period before Sullivan escaped to a 1-0 lead. Neither man scored over the last :30 and Ortega, trailing by one, chose down to start the third period. Needing to escape in :30 to maintain his riding time edge, Ortega escaped to a 1-1 tie in :18 to keep a 1:12 riding time edge. Sullivan shot low on Ortega, but the Lion freshman forced a stalemate at the 1:07 mark. Ortega was able to counter a Sullivan single leg, work his way around Sullivan and get a critical takedown at the :30 mark. A short ride secured the riding time point and, after a Sullivan escape, Ortega played defense to a key 4-2 win. The victory, Penn State\’s fourth straight, put the Lions up 15-9.

184: Senior David Erwin (Urbana, Ohio), ranked No. 14 nationally at 184, met Panther sophomore Zac Thomusseit. With a forfeit looming at 197 and starter Wade out at heavyweight, Erwin entered the 184-pound bout not just looking for a win but looking for bonus points. He got his first takedown :50 into the first period, nearly completing a high throw. But Thomusseit was able to work out of trouble and escaped to a 2-1 deficit at the 1:30 mark. Erwin tried for a second takedown, but Thomusseit was able to force a stalemate with :15 left in the period. Leading 2-1, Erwin chose down to start the second period and quickly escaped to a 3-1 lead. Erwin used a head inside single to gain control of the Panther\’s right thigh and notched another takedown to lead 5-1 with :48 left in the period. Thomusseit gave up a first stall warning as the period ended. Trailing 5-1, the Panther chose down to start the final period and was cut loose by Erwin to a 5-2 lead. Erwin had 1:10 in riding time in hand. Erwin countered another Thomusseit shot and got a third takedown to lead 7-3 after cutting the Panther loose. Another quick takedown and cut, plus stall point, gave Erwin a 10-3 lead with :55 left. The Lion then locked in on a cradle with :40 left but was forced to cut him loose with :30 left. Erwin needed one more takedown to work his way to a major decision and with just :01 left, got the call to post the 13-4 major decision. The Lions took a 19-9 lead.

197: The Nittany Lions forfeited the 197-pound weight class, allowing Panther sophomore Matt Wilps to pick up six key team points. Penn State sophomore Clay Steadman (McKean, Pa.) was suspended for two duals due to violation of team rules. The six points cut Penn State\’s lead to 19-15.

HWT: Sophomore Cameron Wade (Twinsburg, Ohio), ranked No. 13 at heavyweight, was injured in warm ups, stunning the Nittany Lions and sending senior Brendan Herlihy (Fairfield, Conn.) to the mat to take on No. 12 Ryan Tomei of Pittsburgh. Herlihy was making his Penn State dual meet debut. Herlihy was able to keep Tomei at arm\’s length, forcing the Panther to take a series of short shots during the first period. The Lion senior was hit for one stall warning midway through the period and then taken down with :10 left to trail 2-0 after the opening period. Herlihy chose down to start the middle period and was nearly taken to his back off the opening whistle. But the Lion was able to roll out of trouble and force a reset. The Lion senior spent the rest of the second period, giving up one stall point at the :28 mark. Tomei\’s strong ride gave the Panther a 3-0 lead with 2:19 in riding time heading to the final period. Tomei chose down to start the third period and quickly escaped to a 4-0 lead with 2:11 in riding time. Tomei gained control of Herlihy\’s leg and notched another takedown to lead 6-1 after cutting the Lion loose with 1:25 left. Herlihy needed to keep the bout to a decision to give the Loins an improbable win or a major to secure a tie. Herlihy got hit with a stall at the :40 mark and Tomei led 7-1 with a riding time point secured as well. Herlihy fought off Tomei until just :04 was left when the Panther got the key takedown to post a 10-1 major decision, ending the dual in a 19-19 tie.

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