The Alton twins returned as the No. 1 ranked Penn State wrestling team (8-0, 5-0 Big Ten) defeated No. 12 Nebraska (9-4, 3-3 Big Ten) 33-9 on Sunday afternoon in front of a season-high Rec Hall crowd of 6,618.
The time off did not seem to affect Dylan Alton.
Dylan, No. 6 at 157 pounds, wrestled in what turned out to be the feature match of the dual against Nebraska’s fourth-ranked James Green. The heated bout was tied 1-1 late in the third period when Alton scored a takedown to win by a 3-1 decision with seconds left to send the whiteout crowd into a frenzy.
“He shot and I re-shot, and got my angle that I wanted,” said Alton of his match-winning takedown.
Andrew Alton was a different story. Third-ranked at 149, Andrew Alton scored a quick takedown and jumped out to a 5-1 lead over Nebraska’s No. 12 Jake Sueflohn. Sueflohn responded with a takedown of his own and a stalling point against Alton to tighten the bout at 5-4. Then at the 5:33 mark Sueflohn pinned Alton for a comeback victory.
Between the second and third period Alton took his time getting into position. At the end of the match he was visibly gassed. The time off seemed to bother him.
“Obviously Andrew wasn’t himself,” Penn State coach Cael Sanderson said. “ I think he just needs some time to get back to where he wants to be. … You could see in his face he wasn’t all there tonight.”
The Alton twins were suspended for a month after a highly publicized encounter with alcohol and law enforcement in late December. Sanderson has always had a strict no-alcohol in-season policy. In the past, he has suspended wrestlers for such violations including All-American Andrew Long, who was kicked off the team and never wrestled for Penn State again. For a while the future of the Alton twins was uncertain, until the end of their suspensions was announced recently.
Besides Dylan Alton and Green, the dual also featured two other top 10 matchups -- Penn State’s Matt Brown, No. 3 at 174, against Nebraska’s fourth-ranked Robert Kokesh; and No. 1 ranked Ed Ruth against Nebraska’s eighth-ranked Josh Ihnen.
Kokesh warded off a late rally by Brown to win a 10-7 decision. It was one of Nebraska’s two match victories on the night. The Huskers never held the overall lead.
Ruth, in rare form, fell behind two points after giving up the first takedown. From that point on he dominated Ihnen for a technical fall victory by a score of 18-3.
“I don’t like giving up little points like that,” said Ruth. “It kind of really gets to me.”
The Nittany Lions continue on undefeated and virtually untested, having not had a dual-meet score closer than a 23-point spread. That could change this week. On Friday night the Nittany Lions travel to Iowa to take on the third-ranked Hawkeyes (15-1, 5-0 Big Ten) at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Iowa, like Penn State, is known as a tradition-rich wrestling program with a hostile atmosphere. Sanderson said in his days as a wrestler at Iowa State that Iowa fans showed up 16,000 strong to fill the arena.
“I’m excited for these guys,” said Sanderson. “We need to be challenged. … There’s no better place outside of Rec Hall to wrestle than Carver-Hawkeye.”