No. 3 ranked Penn State wrestling team (12-1, 7-1 Big Ten) tallied five pins en route to 48-0 shutout win of Rider University (10-7) in the final competition of the season at Rec Hall.
The quickest and most notable came from Bryan Pearsall in the third match of the meet. Wrestling at 141 pounds against Rider’s Robert Cigna, Pearsall scored an early takedown to jump out to a 2-0 lead. At the 2:01 mark, the senior, wrestling in his final match in front of the Rec Hall crowd, pinned Cigna to close out his home career in style.
“Obviously I wanted to get a [technical] fall, that’s the goal of every match,” said Pearsall. “It would have been nice to get a little bit more mat time out there, but I saw an opening and had to take it.”
In a late-season non-conference dual meet, unlike recent Big Ten competition, the Rider Broncs only sent one ranked wrestler to the mats, Ramon Santiago. Ranked No. 20 at 165, Santiago faced off with Penn State’s second-ranked David Taylor. The only matchup of the meet featuring two ranked opponents, this bout was expected to be one of the tightest, but it was not.
Taylor gave up the first points right off of the opening whistle as Santiago scored a quick double leg takedown. From that point on, Taylor cruised. Less than a minute into the second frame, Taylor pinned Santiago for another Penn State victory.
The Nittany Lions also recorded falls from second-ranked Nico Megaludis (125) in the first match of the meet, seventh-ranked Matt Brown (174) and top-ranked Ed Ruth (184).
One match that did not end in a fall was the 197-pound bout, featuring Penn State senior and second-ranked Quentin Wright against Donald McNeil of Rider. Wright, a local product from nearby Wingate, Pa., has always been a fan favorite and many times called a “hometown hero” by coach Cael Sanderson. Sunday was the last time for Nittany Lion fans to flock to Rec Hall and catch the three-time All-American and former national champion in action.
Wright controlled the pace from the start winning by a 12-4 major decision. As he began to walk off the mat, he stopped and took in a standing ovation from 6,500 plus screaming fans. He waved and blew kisses to the crowd in thanks for their support.
“I’m blessed to have the fan support that I’ve had,” said Wright. “I’ve been blessed with great teammates, with a great coaching staff and everything has just been a dream these past 4-5 years. A lot of ups and downs and all arounds, but it was a lot of fun.”
Although against a lesser opponent, and in a match Penn State was expected to dominate, Sanderson was encouraged by the high volume of falls his team tallied.
“I like to see our guys looking for pins especially this time of year, because that’s what is going to win the national championships,” said Sanderson. “We need the bonus points. I think that’s what separated us from the rest of the pack the last two years. … Getting five tonight, that’s a good deal.”
Penn State’s next contest is on Feb. 24 at Rutgers. It’s the Nittany Lions' final dual meet of the season before the Big Ten championships start in March.
“We’re focused on being the national champions and being the Big Ten champions,” said Sanderson. “There’s still a lot of wrestling to do, it’s just we won’t be in Rec Hall anymore.”
No. 3 Penn State 48, Rider 0
125: No. 2 Nico Megaludis PSU pinned Patrick Skinner RID, WBF (3:48) 6-0
133: No. 14 Jordan Conaway PSU maj. dec. Michael Shupin RID, 19-5 10-0
141: Bryan Pearsall PSU pinned Robert Cigna RID, WBF (2:01) 16-0
149: No. 12 Andrew Alton PSU maj. dec. Curt Delia RID, 12-4 20-0
157: No. 5 Dylan Alton PSU dec. Zac Cibula RID, 5-2 23-0
165: No. 2 David Taylor PSU pinned No. 20 Ramon Santiago RID, WBF (3:48) 29-0
174: No. 7 Matt Brown PSU pinned James Bundage RID, WBF (4:06) 35-0
184: No. 1 Ed Ruth PSU pinned Ryan Wolfe RID, WBF (2:38) 41-0
197: No. 2 Quentin Wright PSU maj. dec. Donald McNeil RID, 12-4 45-0
285: No. 12 Jimmy Lawson PSU dec. Greg Velasco RID, 3-0 48-0