UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Penn State Nittany Lion wrestling team (9-1, 6-1 B1G), ranked No. 1 nationally in Intermat’s TPI, will continue a four-dual road trip against ranked foes when it visits No. 15 Pittsburgh (8-4) on Friday (Feb. 8) night and No. 6 Ohio State (10-2, 4-2 B1G) on Sunday (Feb. 10). The Lions and Panthers tangle at 7 p.m. on Friday while Penn State invades Columbus for a 4 p.m. dual on Sunday. Ohio State is at Michigan on Friday night while the Lions and Panthers are battling in Pittsburgh.
Penn State is coming off 1-1 road weekend in Big Ten action, dropping a tough 22-16 decision at Iowa last Friday night in front of over 15,000 fans in sold out Carver Hawkeye Arena. Penn State rebounded from having its 20-dual win streak snapped by shutting out Illinois 37-0 in Champaign. The shut-out was Penn State’s third in Big Ten duals this year and the seventh under head coach Cael Sanderson in this, his fourth season at the helm of the program.
The Nittany Lions feature a talented and balanced line-up. Sophomore Nico Megaludis is 17-2 and ranked No. 2 at 125 while red-shirt freshman Jordan Conaway is 11-5 at 133 and, while not ranked by Intermat, is ranked No. 16 by WIN Magazine and other publications. Conaway owns two wins over top-ten wrestlers in conference action. Senior Bryan Pearsall is 17-7 overall at 141 and 8-2 in duals with a 6-1 mark in conference duals. Sophomore Andrew Alton is 19-1 and ranked No. 7 at 149 while twin brother Dylan Alton is 18-3 and ranked No. 5 at 157. Junior David Taylor is 19-1 overall and ranked No. 2 at 165 while sophomore Matt Brown is 18-3 and No. 5 at 174. Junior Ed Ruth is undefeated at 21-0 and ranked No. 1 at 184 while senior Quentin Wright is unbeaten at 197, with a 20-0 mark and ranked No. 3. Sophomore Jon Gingrich is 14-6 overall and ranked No. 17 while classmate Jimmy Lawson is 17-3 at 285 as well. Penn State’s line-up includes five returning All-Americans, all of whom placed in the top three last season. Three of those Lions (Taylor, Ruth and Wright) have own NCAA individual titles while Megaludis was a true-freshman NCAA finalist and Dylan Alton took third as a red-shirt freshman.
Pittsburgh comes into the dual with an 8-4 overall record. The Panthers are ranked No. 15 in Intermat’s TPI and are coming off a strong 31-9 win over West Virginia on Saturday. Head coach Rande Stottlemyer’s squad features five ranked grapplers. Senior Matt Wilps is 16-1 at 197 and ranked No. 2 nationally, setting up a showdown with Wright. Senior Zac Thomusseit is 20-2 and No. 8 at 285 while brother Max, a sophomore, is 12-2 and No. 13 at 184. Junior Shelton Mack is 14-6 and No. 16 at 133 while sophomore Tyler Wilps is 17-5 and No. 17 at 165.
Ohio State, which wrestles at Michigan on the same Friday that Penn State visits Pitt, features a talented and balanced line-up as well. The Buckeyes, ranked No. 6 on Intermat’s TPI, have nine wrestlers ranked nationally, including the undefeated Stieber brothers at 133 and 141. Both sophomores, Logan is 16-0 and ranked No. 1 at 133 while Hunter is 24-0 and ranked No. 2 at 141. Junior Nick Heflin is 10-2 and ranked No. 7 at 174 while senior Nikko Triggas 17-7 and ranked No. 12 at 125. Junior Peter Capone is 17-5 and No. 12 at 285 while sophomore Andrew Campolattano is 15-7 and No. 13 at 197. Freshman Kenny Courts is 18-7 and No. 16 at 184 while sophomore Cam Tesari is 12-6 and No. 19 at 149. Classmate Josh Demas is 15-6 and No. 19 at 157.
Penn State leads the all-time series with Pitt, a former Eastern Wrestling League rival, 52-12-3. The Nittany Lions have won two straight, including a 33-6 win in Rec Hall last year (2/19/12). The two teams battled to a 19-19 tie in the last meeting in Pittsburgh on 12/12/09. Pittsburgh’s last victory over Penn State was an 18-12 Panther win on 1/5/02 in Rec Hall. The Nittany Lions own a 15-11 edge in the all-time series with Ohio State, including the last two. Penn State won 34-9 last year in Rec Hall (1/29/12) while Ohio State won the last meeting in Columbus, 21-14, on 1/24/10.
The final Nittany Lion home dual of the season is set for Sunday, Feb. 17, when Rider visits 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.