ST. LOUIS — Penn State, led by former Wasatch High School wrestling legend Cael Sanderson, appears to be the next dynasty in college wrestling.
For the second straight year the Nittany Lions won the NCAA title and Sanderson, along with his brother Cody, are the chief architects.
Cody Sanderson was the first wrestling coach of the Utah Valley University program but left for the “other” Happy Valley when his brother was named the head coach in State College.
Penn State crowned three individual champions, Frank Molinaro (149 pounds), David Taylor (165) and Ed Ruth (174) finished their seasons undefeated, something Cael Sanderson knows well as he finished his college career with four NCAA titles and an unblemished 159-0 record.
Taylor was named the outstanding wrestler.
The Nittany Lions had six All-Americans and five will return next season. Taylor is just a sophomore while Ruth is a junior. Molinaro is the lone Penn State grappler that the Nittany Lions lose to graduation.
Quentin Wright (184), and Nicholas Megaludis (125) placed second for Penn State. Megaludis, just a freshman, reached the championship finals from his No. 10 seed. Fellow freshman Nick Alton (157) finished third.
Finishing behind Penn State (143 points) were Minnesota (117.5), Iowa (107.5), Cornell (102.5) and Ohio State (68.5) showing that the Big Ten conference is the dominant force in college wrestling. The league not only produced seven of the top ten schools but 32 All-Americans and seven of the 10 individual champions.
Utah Valley’s lone representative Josh Wilson went 2-2 and the Wolverines finished 56th place out of the 70 institutions that qualified wrestlers for this year’s championships.
Wilson defeated Missouri’s Kyle Bradley 7-3 in the first round and Rutger’s Mario Mason 4-2 in overtime before falling to No 2. seed Jamal Parks 7-2. Wilson then was eliminated Eric Terrazas of Illinois 4-2 in Wilson’s second match that went into overtime.
Tournament Notes: The tournament was sparsely populated with former Utah preps this season. Former Mountain Crest four-time champion Ethen Lofthouse finished seventh wrestling for Iowa while Levi Mele, who prepped at Uintah, went 1-2 for Northwestern…The weekend also was dismal for some perennial powerhouses. Arizona State went from two champs to two points scored while Missouri, who was upset in the first round of the NCAA basketball tournament, had a miserable weekend as the Big 12 wrestling champion failed to have an All-American and finished 26th, it lowest finish in nearly a decade. Iowa State State finished 35th for its lowest finish in school history, while Boise State finished 51st after a top ten finish last year. But the Broncos should be bolstered by the return of Jason Chamberlain, the four-time state champion that prepped at Springville, who took an Olympic redshirt. Chamberlain has one year of eligibility left and finished third at last year’s championship at 149 pounds…Two wrestlers still have the chance to do what (Cael) Sanderson did as an individual by winning four titles. Ohio State freshman Hunter Stieber upset returning NCAA champ Jordan Oliver (Oklahoma State) to win the 133-pound division. Cornell’s Kyle Dake won the 157-pound title to nail down his third title as a junior. Dake became the first wrestler in NCAA history to win three titles in three different weight classes and will return for his senior season.