When Jon Gingrich took down Jimmy Lawson Friday night under the dimmed lights at Rec Hall, he locked up the Penn State heavyweight job for the foreseeable future, besting his teammate in a wrestle-off 3-1. And when he took down Michael McClure under those same dimmed lights, a crowd that was vacant two days before roared, as Gingrich clawed his way to a 5-3 victory and upset of InterMat's No. 4 ranked 285-pounder.
There was no team upset on this day, though, as Penn State dominated Michigan State up and down the lineup to improve to 5-0 and 2-0 in the Big Ten with a 41-0 victory over the Spartans at Rec Hall Sunday.
Success builds confidence, and it's the greatest confidence builder, head coach Cael Sanderson said specifically about Gingrich's triumph, though it spreads across the Nittany Lions roster, too. I think having success like that helps him build confidence, and it helps to go out there having a good time and doing well.
Match of the Day
Sometimes it's a struggle to pick one match as the best from a dual meet at Rec Hall, but Gingrich's victory makes it an easy choice here. After a scoreless first period turned into a quick escape and a 1-0 lead in the second period, Gingrich headed to the third with the lead. But he also had a stalling caution that came midway through the second stanza from head referee Rod Wilt.
It would end up being irrelevant, though, as Gingrich dove in on a low double and took down McClure, exposing his shoulders passed the 45-degree plane in the process, garnering a pair of near-fall points to take a 5-3 lead. Gingrich wouldn't score again, as McClure scored his first two points of the match via escape, and also received a stalling point, but could score no more as Gingrich mounted a strong defense in the period's waning minutes.
The victory was Gingrich's second over a ranked opponent in three matches, as he also stopped Indiana's then-No. 8 ranked Adam Chalfant 6-5 back on Dec. 9.
It was pretty crazy [today], Gingrich said. It reminded me of the Indiana match with all the cheering. I looked for my shot once they start tiring, but I need to show my offense a little bit more to not get the stalling call. But I kind of like wrestling ranked guys. You have to have gameness, as Coach calls it.
Fall of the Match
This one certainly is a tough choice, because David Taylor's 1:37 first period fall against Nick Proctor at 165 pounds was impressive. But Sunday's honor goes to 184-pounder Ed Ruth, who stopped John Rizqallah at the 1:37 mark as well, hitting his frequently used, always effective cradle to get off the mat in a hurry. Ruth, who is ranked No. 1 by InterMat at 184, was leading 2-0 at the time of the fall.
Junior James Vollrath had his work cut out for him at 157-pounds, filling in for Dylan Alton and locking horns with No. 19 David Cheza in the final match before intermission. But Vollrath was game for the challenge, erasing a 4-3 deficit heading into the third period by sitting out for an escape to tie the match at four. Then he worked hard for Cheza's left ankle with under 20 seconds to wrestle, finally grasping it and squeezing behind the Spartan senior for the match-winning takedown.
I knew he was getting tired, and in the first period I tried a high crotch to a sweep, so I just had to regroup myself, and I knew I needed one good shot, Vollrath said. I went to a sweep and made sure I finished it and made it secure.
As previous noted, Gingrich and Lawson were put into dual meet like conditions Friday to settle their series, tied 1-1, to decide who would represent the Nittany Lions at heavyweight going forward. Sanderson and company placed the regular mat inside Rec Hall, and dimmed the lights much like a normal dual match so that both wrestlers would have the same experience. Both scored an escape, but Gingrich's takedown was ultimately the difference in the rubber match.
It was a takedown match like most heavyweight matches are, and it was similar to a dual meet set-up, Gingrich said. Right after I won I felt relieved that the spot was finally mine, but then I got right back into preparing for [Sunday's] match.
The attendance at Rec Hall was 6,353 for the Sunday dual.
Penn State blew out Michigan State in the takedown battle, 33-1. The Spartans lone takedown came in the 157-pound bout, where Cheza's first-period counter shot gave him an early lead.
The Nittany Lions scored 98 individual points in the dual.
Penn State returns to the mat next Friday, when Wisconsin comes to Rec Hall for a 7 p.m. dual.