OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. - The Penn State Nittany Lion wrestling team, under the direction of head coach Cael Sanderson, won its fourth straight NCAA National Championship, becoming only the third team in history to win four straight titles. Led by the senior National Champion duo of Ed Ruth (Harrisburg, Pa.) and David Taylor (St. Paris, Ohio), Penn State out-paced second place Minnesota to claim the team crown.
Penn State ended the night with 109.5 points to Minnesota's 104.0. Oklahoma State was third with 96.5 points. Taylor was named the 2014 NCAA Championship Most Outstanding Wrestler and won the NCAA's Most Dominant Wrestler Award.
Penn State entered the final session trailing for the first time in the championships as Minnesota led with 104.0 points to Penn State's 101.5. Both teams had two finalists, none of whom faced each other, setting up the potential for a back-and-forth team race. The championship finals began at 174, setting up a penultimate final at 165 between Nittany Lion senior David Taylor (St. Paris, Ohio) and Oklahoma State's Tyler Caldwell. With action beginning at 174, senior Ed Ruth (Harrisburg, Pa.) was the first of Penn State's finalists, taking on Maryland's Jimmy Sheptock at 184.
Ruth, a two-time defending NCAA Champion, came out on fire and dominated the match from start to finish, rolling to a 7-2 decision over Sheptock. Ruth picked up a quick takedown to lead 2-1 less than :30 into the bout. He controlled the flow offensively throughout the opening stanza, picking up another takedown in the final seconds and using a short ride out to lead 4-1 after one. Sheptock chose down to start the second period and Ruth was a force on top. The Nittany Lion senior put together a strong ride, controlling Sheptock throughout the period and never giving up control. Ruth's two-minute ride clinched the riding time point heading into the final period. The third stanza was more of the same as Ruth chose down to start. He quickly reversed Sheptock to take a 6-2 lead and cut him loose, looking for more offense. Sheptock was able to fight off Ruth's final shots but the damage was done and Ruth, with 3:26 in riding time, posted the 7-2 decision. The win put Penn State back on top in the team race by 1.5 points and made the Nittany Lion senior Penn State's first-ever three-time NCAA Champion.
Taylor, Penn State's first-ever four-time finalist and seeking his second NCAA title, took to the mat against Caldwell with the Nittany Lions having just clinched their fourth straight team championship. Looking to end a perfect evening on a perfect high note, Taylor scored early, taking Caldwell down with just over 2:00 in the opening period. He then put together a strong ride, building up a riding time cushion. Taylor maintained control for the rest of the period and led 2-0 with 2:07 in riding time. Taylor chose down to start the second period and quickly escaped to a 3-0 lead. Taylor continued to set the pace in the second place and the pressure paid off with one more take down in the second. Taylor's score gave the Nittany Lion a 5-0 lead heading into the final period. Caldwell chose down to start the third and fought off Taylor's efforts in the third period. Taylor's dominating performance, which included 2:54 in riding time, gave the Nittany Lion the 6-0 victory and cemented Penn State's final score of 109.5. Taylor became Penn State's sixth two-time NCAA Champion with the win.
Taylor and Ruth concluded their final runs at NCAA Championships, capping off two of the most storied and impressive collegiate careers in NCAA history with national titles. Taylor wraps up his Lion career with a 134-3 record for his career. He has 53 pins (tying Penn State's all-time record), 42 techs and 30 majors, meaning 125 of his 134 wins are for bonus. Taylor ended his senior season with a perfect 34-0 record, including 16 pins, eight techs and eight majors this year. He also has 18 career wins in the NCAA tournament and 11 career pins at nationals. Ruth concludes his Nittany Lion career 136-3 all-time at Penn State. He had 46 pins, 25 techs and 33 majors, giving him 104 bonus victories in his 136 wins. The Lion senior now has 21 career NCAA tourney wins, tops at Penn State and wraps up his senior campaign with a 34-1 mark, including 11 pins, nine techs and 10 majors.
Taylor and Ruth also became Penn State's seventh and eighth four-time All-Americans today, joining Lion four timers Quentin Wright, Frank Molinaro, Phil Davis, Sanshiro Abe, Jim Martin and Greg Elinsky. Ruth became Penn State's first-ever three-time NCAA Champion and Taylor, the school's first-ever four-time finalist, became the sixth two-time NCAA Champion. Taylor and Ruth were part of four NCAA team titles and collected a combined eight Big Ten titles, five NCAA individual titles and eight All-America honors. Neither wrestler ever lost to a Big Ten opponent, in a tournament or dual meet.
Penn State leaves Oklahoma City with its fourth straight NCAA title and seven All-Americans, the most since 1992. In addition to Taylor and Ruth, junior Nico Megaludis (Murrysville, Pa.) went 5-1 to take third at 125 and became Penn State's 23rd three-time All-American; true freshman Zain Retherford (Benton, Pa.) went 4-2 and took fifth at 141; senior James English (York, Pa.) went 5-2 and became Penn State's 183rd All-American by taking seventh at 149; junior Matt Brown (West Valley City, Utah) went 5-2 and place fifth at 174 to become a two-time All-American; and sophomore Morgan McIntosh (Santa Ana, Calif.) went 5-2 to place seventh at 197, becoming Penn State's 184th All-American.
Every Nittany Lion added critical team points as all ten Penn Staters scored. Red-shirt freshman Jimmy Gulibon (Latrobe, Pa.), junior Dylan Alton (Mill Hall, Pa.) and junior Jon Gingrich (Wingate, Pa.) all bowed out of the tournament in session three. Gulibon went 1-2, Alton went 2-2 and Gingrich went 2-2.
The Nittany Lions went 2-0 in the finals and concluded the tournament with a 38-15 record. Penn State collected 24.0 bonus points off seven majors, two techs, four pins and one medical forfeit. Penn State grabbed its fourth straight NCAA title after claiming the crown in 2011 in Philadelphia, 2012 in St. Louis and the 2013 title last year in Des Moines. The Nittany Lions became only the third team in NCAA Wrestling to win four straight team titles (joining Iowa and Oklahoma State in that prestigious club).
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