Photo by Steve Manuel
For the second year in a row, the Penn State wrestling team won the NCAA Championship. Three wrestlers are national champs, too—senior Frank Molinaro, sophomore Ed Ruth and sophomore David Taylor, who was also named “National Wrestler of the Year.” Penn State is only the fourth team in NCAA history to win back-to-back titles.
The Nittany Lions outdistanced second-place Minnesota by a whopping 25.5 points. The Nittany Lions checked in with 143.0 points, while the Gophers were second with 117.5. Iowa was third with 107.5 and Cornell was fourth with 102.5. Ohio State rounded out the top five with 68.5. This is the second national championship under Cael Sanderson, who just completed his third season.
In addition to the team title and three individual titles, Taylor was honored as the Gorriaran Award winner for the most falls in the least amount of time as well as winning the Hodge Trophy as just the third sophomore to ever do so (one of the others is Sanderson). Taylor’s 5–0 run to the title included four pins and a technical fall. He is the second straight Nittany Lion to win the award as Ruth claimed it during Penn State’s title run in Philadelphia a year ago. He was then honored as the 2012 NCAA Most Dominant Wrestler for the season and capped off a stellar weekend in St. Louis by being named the 2012 NCAA Wrestling Championships Most Outstanding Wrestler.
Here are more details on the three national champs:
Photo by Steve Manuel
Molinaro (Barnegat, N.J.), the undefeated top-seed at 149, met No. 7 Dylan Ness of Minnesota in the title bout. In the national final, Molinaro took on No. 7 Dylan Ness of Minnesota, meeting the talented Gopher for the fourth time this season. Molinaro fought off one early Ness shot and then tried to connect on multiple single legs in the first period before finally breaking through for a takedown with :20 left. Riding the 2–0 lead into the third period, he escaped to a 3–1 lead and then rode Ness for most of the third period to build up 1:50 in riding time and post the 4–1 win. Already Penn State’s fifth four-time All-American, Molinaro is now Penn State’s latest NCAA Champion. He finished 8th, 5th, 2nd and 1st at NCAAs and closes out a perfect senior season with a 33–0 record, giving him a 121–29 career mark. He leaves Penn State as one of the greatest wrestlers in school history and tied for 8th all-time on Penn State’s career win list. Molinaro’s 5–0 run through this year’s tourney gives him 17 wins in the NCAA tournament, tied for fourth all-time in school history.
Ruth (Harrisburg, Pa.), the undefeated top seed at 174, met No. 3 Nick Amuchastegui in a battle of two unbeaten wrestlers. Getting revenge for an injury default loss in the national quarters last year, Ruth dominated the Stanford wrestler from start to finish, rolling to a 13–2 major decision and become Penn State’s third national champion of the night. Ruth used a takedown, two near fall points and an escape to bolt out to a 5–2 lead after one period. He added an escape and a takedown in the second to lead 8–3 and then, after Amuchastegui chose neutral, notched a takedown, two near fall points and a rideout to roll to the major. He ended the match with 3:39 in riding time. Ruth ends a simply dominating title run with a 5–0 mark, including two pins, a technical fall and the major in the title bout. The undefeated run gives him a 31–0 mark to close out the year. He heads into his junior season as a two-time All-American with a 69–2 record.
Taylor (St. Paris, Ohio), the undefeated top seed at 165, took on No. 11 Brandon Hatchett of Lehigh. In the finals, Taylor met No. 11 Brandon Hatchett of Lehigh. Closing out one of the most dominant performances in NCAA tournament history, Taylor put on a takedown clinic in rolling to a 22–7 technical fall at the 5:55 mark. The Nittany Lion sophomore notched three first period takedowns to lead 6–2 after one period. After choosing down to start the second, Taylor reversed Hatchett, cut him loose, took him down again and added two near fall points to lead 12–3 after two. The third period was a blistering display of takedowns as Taylor rolled up five takedowns to post the technical fall and finish a national championship run with a 5–0 record that included four pins and a technical fall. Taylor ends a perfect sophomore season with a 32–0 record. He heads into his junior year as a two-time All-American with a 70–1 record.
Photo by Steve Manuel
Penn State’s 3–2 finals performance gives the team a final overall record at the 2012 NCAA Championships of 33–9. Penn State had five finalists at the tournament, an all-time school record. The final team point total of 143.5 is also a school record and is the most points scored by one team at the tournament since Oklahoma State had 153 in 2005.
The Nittany Lions end the year as two-time reigning NCAA and Big Ten Champions. Penn State posted a 13–1 overall dual meet record and were the 2012 Big Ten Co-Regular Season Champions with a 7–1 conference mark.