IOWA CITY - Penn State found a way to silence a deafening University of Iowa wrestling crowd.
At least until, Bobby Telford added a late reversal to win the final match of the evening.
By then it was too late, top-ranked Penn State won four straight matches after intermission, pulling away for a 24-12 over No. 3 Iowa in a battle of NCAA Division I wrestling powers in front of 13,747 fans Saturday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Penn State’s Ed Ruth and Morgan McIntosh notched consecutive major decisions at 184 and 197, giving the Nittany Lions a 15-point edge and sealing the victory with a match left.
Once things rolled for Penn State, Iowa didn’t stem the tide in individual matches. It allowed the Nittany Lions to maintain the team momentum.
“We got blown off our home mat,” said Iowa Coach Tom Brands, referencing Penn State’s aggressiveness to score the first takedown. “Those are things that cannot happen if you’re going to win matches.
“If things are going against you in your match, you have to be able to turn it around. Didn’t happen. And, when things are going against you as a team, you have to be able to turn it around as well, and none of that happened.”
Statistics can be misleading but they are indicative of how the meet progressed. Penn State held an 18-10 advantage in takedowns and 68-40 edge in total match points. Iowa didn’t score a takedown in the last half of the dual and were outscored 46-15 in that stretch. Tony Ramos, whose fall gave Iowa a 6-3 lead after two matches, had half of the Hawkeyes’ takedowns with Derek St. John adding four. Josh Dziewa was the only other Hawkeye to get one.
“The only thing that happened that was good was for them,” Brands said. “You can talk about Tony Ramos. Good, that put us in position there.”
The matches favored Penn State as the meet advanced and they capitalized on their opportunities in the second half.
“We’re pretty solid once you go up,” Penn State Coach Cael Sanderson said. “We’re pretty good on the bottom, too, but so is Iowa. The matchups were a little different as we went through the lineup, obviously.”
The dual opened with a bit of a surprise when Iowa’s red-shirt Thomas Gilman took the mat, instead of fourth-ranked Cory Clark, against two-time NCAA finalist and No. 3 Nico Megaludis. It was expected to be one of a handful of “swing” matches.
Gilman penetrated for a couple of takedown attempts, but Megaludis scored the lone takedown of the match, for a 4-1 win, adding an escape and point for riding time. Brands said Clark is still getting his weight acclimated to the short turnaround time for duals.
“We’ve got two competitive guys there and guys that are capable, and Cory Clark is adjusting to the weight – the one-hour weigh-in,” Brands said. “We’ll keep things moving forward. We’ll have two at 125 in the Midlands.”
The Hawkeyes caused a case of deja vu to the Nittany Lions. Tony Ramos took the mat against red-shirt freshman Jimmy Gulibon and provided the Hawkeye faithful an encore performance from a year ago.
Ramos dominated from the start, scoring three takedowns in the first and building a 9-4 lead before the third. He chose neutral for the final period and then delivered a knockout blow to Gulibon. Ramos hit his trademark whipover, settling in after Gulibon tried to fight off, and getting a fall in 5:22.
“I felt it,” Ramos said. “When he was taking his shots a lot of them his arms were flailing. At the end of the second, I felt him break.”
Ramos tried earlier in the match, but Gulibon surrendered a takedown to avoid it. He continued to look for the big move. The fans, coaches and Gulibon likely expected it, but defending it proved much more difficult. It makes it more satisfying when they know it is coming.
“It’s exciting because you know you did your job,” Ramos said. “They can work to defend something as much as they want, but if you overpower and keep your will on them you will get what you need.”
Ramos knew bonus points were important, but making sure he got the Hawks on the board was imperative. Ramos understand his production is key to Iowa. He is aware of what has to get done.
“I put it more on myself,” Ramos said. “I’m a leader. I’m a captain. It’s something I know I need to do myself.”
Momentum quickly shifted back to Penn State in the next two match, resulting in a 9-6 lead. At 141, Dziewa came out with the opening takedown, but it wasn’t enough to beat Zain Retherford, who scored a takedown in the third after two earlier escapes for a 4-2 win. Retherford’s victory tied the team score at 6-6.
Zach Beitz provided back-to-back wins for Penn State, using a five-point move in the final 30 seconds to upend Michael Kelly, 6-1, at 149. The pair exchanged escapes before a flurry caused Kelly to get out of position, allowing Beitz to catch him on his back for the takedown and nearfall.
Some considered both to be toss-up matches. Dziewa and Kelly each were within striking distance in the third, but could come through for a win.
“I don’t know how close it was,” Brands said. “At 149, the guy was on our collar the whole match. We couldn’t field it clear. We have to clear that.
“At 141, we get one of the rare first-period takedowns … we gave up one late and got ridden.”
Brands addressed the 197-pound situation between Brooks and NCAA qualifier Nathan Burak, who has not wrestled yet this season due to medical issues. He said he Burak still could red-shirt, but both will compete at Midlands at the end of the month. Brooks will be at 184, while Burak will be at 197.
“Those things that he (Burak) had and was dealing with they’re nasty, so we need to make sure we do not regress on them,” Brands said. “It’s out there that he has an option to red-shirt and I don’t know what we’re going to do there.”
Sanderson said his wrestlers displayed their toughness. He said he was happy for and proud of his wrestlers that got wins. He said Retherford and Beitz were huge victories.
“That experience is great for these guys,” Sanderson said. “It’s all practice right now. It’s already history. They did a great job.”
Defending national champion St. John racked up four takedowns in a 10-4 handling of James Vollrath at 157. St. John’s performance tied the dual, 9-9, at the intermission. Iowa didn’t win again until Telford’s 3-2 win over Jimmy Lawson.
Penn State took control after the break.
Top-ranked 165-pounder David Taylor scored five takedowns and amassed more than four minutes of riding time to earn a 12-4 major decision over Nick Moore, giving Penn State a 13-9 advantage. He gave the Nittany Lions a lead for good.
Matt Brown increased the lead to 16-9 with a 4-1 win over Mike Evans, avenging a one-point loss in this meet last season. Brown scored a takedown in the first and rode Evans the entire third for riding time.
A decisive victory didn’t necessarily mean more satisfaction for Sanderson. It did provide a clearer picture as to what the Nittany Lions needed for improvement.
“It’s still early in the season and we can make a lot of progress,” Sanderson said. “That’s kind of our plan, to get better each match. You really get exposed when you come to Carver-Hawkeye. The Brandses are very good with figuring out how to beat guys. They are very tactical. it gives you a good idea what to work on.”
AT IOWA CITY
Penn State 24, Iowa 12
125 – Nico Megaludis (PSU) dec. Thomas Gilman (IA), 4-1; 0-3
133 – #3 Tony Ramos (IA) pinned Jimmy Gulibon (PSU), 5:22; 6-3
141 – #2 Zain Retherford dec. #10 Josh Dziewa (IA), 4-2; 6-6
149 – Zach Beitz (PSU) dec. Michael Kelly (IA), 6-1; 6-9
157 – #1 Derek St. John (IA) dec. #17 James Volrath, 10-4; 9-9
165 – #1 David Taylor (Penn State) major dec. #4 Nick Moore (IA), 12-3; 9-13
174 – #3 Matt Brown (Penn State) dec. #6 Mike Evans (IA), 4-1; 9-16
184 – #1 Ed Ruth (Penn State) major dec. #2 Ethen Lofthouse (IA), 12-4; 9-20
197 – #3 Morgan McIntosh (PSU) major dec. Sammy Brooks (IA), 16-4; 9-24
285 – #3 Bobby Telford (IA) dec. #12 Jimmy Lawson (Penn State), 3-2; 12-24