OKLAHOMA CITY — Penn State advanced all 10 of its grapplers to the second day of the NCAA wrestling championships and the Nittany Lions finished Thursday’s competition in first place at Chesapeake Energy Center in Oklahoma City.
Looking for a fourth straight national title, coach Cael Sanderson’s squad has five wrestlers that won twice Thursday to advance to the quarterfinals with five more still alive in the consolation bracket.
The Lions were the only team still with 10 wrestlers in contention, giving them 26.5 points, narrowly ahead of Oklahoma State and Minnesota, which each have 21.5 points.
Iowa and Oklahoma are also on the radar with 20.5 team points apiece.
Nico Megaludis (125 pounds), Zain Retherford (141), David Taylor (165), Matt Brown (174) and Ed Ruth (184) all still have a shot at a national championship.
Taylor, a three-time All-American, picked up some bonus points for the Lions by winning both of his bouts by fall, giving him 52 career pins — just one shy of the school record.
Ruth, another former national champion, also earned a pin in the first round and added a technical fall in his second round victory.
Taylor and Ruth are Penn State’s top candidates to win individual titles in the tournament. Megaludis will also be in the mix after the senior beat Oklahoma State’s Eddie Klimara 6-0 in the second round.
Brown and freshman Retherford both scored second-round decisions to advance to the quarters.
The lone disappointment on the first day for the Lions was a surprising loss by third-seeded Morgan McIntosh at 197, who lost 3-2 to No. 14 Chris Penny of Virginia.
Joining McIntosh in the consolation rounds are James English (149), Dylan Alton (157), Jon Gingrich (285) and Jimmy Gulibon (133).
Gulibon was the only Lions wrestler who lost in the opening round, but he rallied with a major decision in his first consolation bout to move on to today’s competition.
The championships continue at 11 a.m. today with sessions three and four, beginning with the quarterfinals. The event concludes Saturday night with all 10 championship bouts.