In just two short years, Nittany Lion head coach Cael Sanderson led Penn State to its first NCAA Championship since 1953. The Nittany Lions scored a school record 107.5 points to walk away with the crown over second place Cornell (93.5) and third place Iowa (86.5).Read More Watch Video
The title, which was clinched before Saturday night’s finals, is Penn State’s second, making the Nittany Lions only the sixth team in the country to win more than one NCAA team title (and the first ever east of the Mississippi River).
Penn State’s NCAA team title run in Philadelphia on March 17-19 featured a number of records and benchmarks:
Sophomore Quentin Wright, now a two-time All-American, battled Lehigh’s Robert Hamlin in the national final at 184, coming away with a convincing 5-2 win. Wright, who was the No. 9 seed, ended a stunning March with a 21-6 record after a perfect 5-0 run through nationals, including the win over No. 2 Hamlin. His run to the NCAA title included an 8-4 win over Virginia’s Jon Fausey, an 8-4 win over No. 8 Kevin Steinhaus of Minnesota, a 7-3 victory over top-seeded Chris Honeycutt of Edinboro and a stunning second period pin over Iowa’s Grant Gambrall, the No. 12 seed, at the 3:53 mark in the national semifinals. Wright is the 19th Nittany Lion to win an NCAA title and claimed the school’s 22nd individual crown. Wright is Penn State’s first national champion since Phil Davis won the 197 bound title in 2008.
Junior Frank Molinaro ended the season as the 2011 National Runner-Up at 149 pounds. He is Penn State’s 19th three-time All-American, having finished 8th at 141 in 2009, 6th at 149 last year and 2nd at 149 this year. Molinaro ends the campaign with a 32-3 record after going 4-1 at this year’s tournament. Molinaro was the tournament’s No. 2 seed and downed Rider’s Zac Cibula 9-0, Virginia’s Derek Valenti 6-3, No. 7 Mario Mason of Rutgers 4-2 and No. 6 Jason Chamberlain of Boise State in the national semifinals before falling to Cornell’s Kyle Dake in the national championship bout.
Freshman David Taylor earned his first All-American laurel for Penn State and is the 2011 National Runner-Up at 157. The freshman All-American went 4-1 at his first NCAA tourney and posted a superb 38-1 overall record in ‘10-11, with 34 of his wins earning bonus points. Taylor, the No. 3 seed, majored Big 12 Champion Robert Erisman of Oklahoma State 13-2 in the first round, posted a 20-3 tech fall over Northern Iowa’s David Bonin in the next round and then beat No. 6 Derek St. John of Iowa 6-3 in the quarterfinals. Taylor then dominated No. 2 Steve Fittery of American before losing in the national championship bout. Taylor (and teammate Ed Ruth) are Penn State’s first freshmen All-Americans since Quentin Wright and Frank Molinaro were both All-Americans in 2009.
Sophomore Andrew Long posted a 5-1 mark at the 2011 NCAA Championships to take third place at 133 pounds. Long, now a two-time All-American after finishing as national runner-up at 125 in 2010 while at Iowa State, downed Casey Cruz of Northern Colorado 8-1 in the first round and posted a 7-5 (sv) win over Minnesota’s David Thorn in the second round. Long, the No. 3 seed, pinned No. 11 Scotti Sentes of Central Michigan in the quarters before dropping a close 7-4 decision to No. 2 Andrew Hochstrasser of Boise State in the national semifinals. He rebounded to pin No. 8 Mike Grey of Cornell and beat No. 11 Sentes again (7-5) in the consolation finals to place third.
Red-shirt freshman Ed Ruth overcome an injury in the quarterfinals of the 2011 NCAA Championships to place third at 174, becoming (along with teammate David Taylor) one of Penn State’s first freshman All-Americans since Quentin Wright and Frank Molinaro turned the trick in 2009. Ruth opened the tournament by pinning Liberty’s Royal Brettrager in just :24. He then beat Minnesota’s Scott Glasser 5-3 before having to default to No. 7 Nick Amuchastegui of Stanford in the quarterfinals as he ran out of injury time. But the Lion responded by beating Purdue’s Luke Manuel 7-6 and pinning No. 6 Ben Bennett of Central Michigan in just :42 to move into Saturday’s consolation semifinals. In the conso semis, Ruth beat No. 5 Chris Heinrich of Virginia 7-2 and then dominated No. 3 Mack Lewnes of Cornell 6-2 in the consolation finals to take third. His two pins in just 1:06 total time earned him the 2011 Gorriaran Award for most pins in the least amount of time.
True freshman Andrew Alton and junior Cameron Wade each went 2-2 at the NCAA Championships with each grappler scoring key points to spur Penn State on to its team title. Alton opened the tournament by pinning Bloomsburg’s Anwar Goeres at the 2:20 mark and then posted a 13-4 major over No. 11 Michael Mariarcher of American. Alton dropped a close 2-0 decision to No. 3 Boris Novochkov of Cal Poly and then lost 5-4 to No. 12 Zach Kemerer of Penn in the ‘round of 12’, finishing just one win shy of All-America status. Wade downed Oregon State’s Clayton Jack 9-2 in the opening round and the beat No. 8 Tony Nelson of Minnesota 4-1 in the second round. Wade, like teammate Ed Ruth, was forced to default in the national quarterfinals to No. 1 Zach Rey of Lehigh from an injury. Wade put forth a gallant effort against Indiana’s Ricky Alcala in the ‘round of 12’ before losing 4-2 in sudden victory to finish just one win shy of All-America honors.
Senior Brad Pataky’s Penn State career came to an end with a 1-2 showing at the NCAA Championships. Pataky opened up the tournament with a 13-7 loss to No. 12 Jarod Garnett of Virginia Tech before rebounding in the consolation round to beat Oregon State’s Jason Lara 6-1. Pataky had his season end with an 8-1 loss to Michigan’s Sean Boyle. Pataky posted a 12-7 mark in an injury-plagued season that began with a pre-season knee injury that nearly ended his campaign before it started. Still, the Clearfield native leaves Penn State as a three-time national qualifier having lost in the ‘round of 12’ twice. Pataky ends his Penn State career with an 86-36 overall record, including 19 technical falls and 13 pins.