UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Penn State Nittany Lion wrestling team (8-0, 5-0 B1G), ranked No. 1 nationally in Intermat’s TPI, will begin a rugged February with Big Ten road duals at No. 3 Iowa (15-1, 5-0 B1G) at 9 p.m. ET on Friday and at No. 8 Illinois (6-2, 2-2 B1G) at 2 p.m. ET on Sunday. The Nittany Lions are on the road for five of their last six duals. The Iowa dual on Friday night is set to air live on the Big Ten Network as well.
Penn State is coming off a 33-9 win over No. 12 Nebraska last weekend, highlighted by senior Bryan Pearsall’s win over No. 19 Ridge Kiley at 141, sophomore Dylan Alton’s 3-1 win over No. 4 James Green at 157 and junior Ed Ruth’s 18-3 tech fall over No. 8 Josh Ihnen at 184. The Nittany Lions won eight of the ten bouts, also getting wins from Nico Megaludis at 125, Jordan Conaway at 133, David Taylor at 165, Quentin Wright at 197 and Jon Gingrich at 285.
The Nittany Lions feature a talented and balanced line-up that combines for a gaudy 161-22 overall record amongst the ten projected starters. Megaludis is 16-1 and ranked No. 2 at 125, Conaway is 10-4 at 133, Pearsall is 16-6 at 141, Andrew Alton is ranked No. 8 at 149 and 17-1, Dylan Alton is ranked No. 5 at 157 and 17-2, Taylor is No. 2 at 165 and 17-1, Matt Brown is No. 4 at 174 and 17-2, Ruth is No. 1 at 184 and 19-0, Wright is No. 3 at 197 and 18-0 and Gingrich is No. 17 at 285 and 14-5.
Iowa comes in on a roll as well. The Hawkeyes, ranked No. 3 by Intermat, took down Minnesota 16-15 this past weekend and carry a 15-1 overall mark into the dual. Like Penn State, Iowa is 5-0 in Big Ten duals as the two squads are the last remaining unbeatens in conference action. Nine of Iowa’s wrestlers carry national rankings: Matt McDonough is No. 1 at 125, Tony Ramos is No. 2 at 133, Mark Ballweg is No. 8 at 141, Derek St. John is No. 1 at 157, Nick Moore is No. 13 at 165, Mike Evans is No. 6 at 174, Ethan Lofthouse is No. 14 at 184, Nathan Burak is No. 19 at 197 and Bobby Telford is No. 6 at 285.
Illinois will enter the weekend 6-2 overall, 2-2 in the Big Ten. The Illini also wrestle at Ohio State on the Friday night that Penn State is at Iowa. Six individuals carry national rankings for the Illini, led by sophomore Jesse Delgado, who is No. 5 at 125. Daryl Thomas is No. 8 at 133, Conrad Polz is No. 8 at 165, Jordan Blanton is No. 8 at 174, Tony Dallago is No. 20 at 184 and Mario Gonzalez is No. 13 at 197.
Iowa leads the all-time series between the two teams, posting a 25-7-2 edge. The Nittany Lions won last year, 22-12 on 1/22/12, in Rec Hall. Iowa won the last meeting in Carver-Hawkeye, posting a 29-6 win on 1/29/10. Illinois leads the all-time series with Penn State 9-4 but Penn State has won the last two. The Nittany Lions won 23-13 two years ago in Rec Hall (2/11/11) in the last meeting between the two schools. The Illini won the last match-up in Champaign, posting an 18-15 win on 2/3/08.
The Nittany Lions continue a four-dual road trip next weekend with a trek to Pittsburgh on Friday, Feb. 8, at 7 p.m., and a Big Ten road dual at Ohio State on Sunday, Feb. 10, at 4 p.m. The final Nittany Lion home dual of the season is set for Sunday, Feb. 17, when Rider invades Rec Hall for a 2 p.m. dual. Penn State’s full season of home duals is sold out. For information on a limited number of SRO tickets that might be available, fans can call 1-800-NITTANY or visit the Bryce Jordan Center ticket office windows. Fans are encouraged to follow Penn State wrestling via twitter at www.twitter.com/pennstateWREST and on Penn State Wrestling’s facebook page at www.facebook.com/pennstatewrestling.