NEW YORK — Penn State senior Morgan McIntosh pinned Kent State’s Kyle Conel at 197 pounds on Thursday, helping the Nittany Lions grab a 27.5-24 lead over defending champion Ohio State through two rounds of the NCAA wrestling championships.
McIntosh’s fall was the third of the day for No. 1 Penn State. Bleeding badly from his forehead, McIntosh got control of Conel and pinned him to the mat in 6:02 at Madison Square Garden.
“(Ohio State’s) got a stud team and some great guys in their lineup so I’m not surprised that they’re doing well,” McIntosh said. “I think we’ll widen the lead and pick up the pace as the tournament goes on.”
After going 8-1 in the first round, Penn State sent six wrestlers into Friday morning’s quarterfinals with a strong showing in the second session. No. 5 Oklahoma State is tied for second and has seven wrestlers in the quarters.
Penn State got crucial bonus points from McIntosh and others. Top-seeded 149-pounder Zain Retherford had a pin in the second round against Edinboro’s Patricio Lugo, and Jason Nolf added a 23-14 technical fall over Penn’s May Bethea to help pad the Nittany Lions’ team lead.
Nico Megaludis (125), Jordan Conaway (133) and Bo Nickal (174) also advanced to the quarterfinals for Penn State.
“We want to get bonus points as much as possible but we have three days to do it, too,” Nolf said. “I’m pretty confident in our team so I think that we can get bonus points in the later rounds, too.”
Bonus points helped Penn State win four of the last five team titles. They helped the No. 7 Buckeyes snap Penn State’s four-year run last season and pick up where they left off on Thursday morning.
Ohio State went 6-2 in the first round, 5-1 in the second and sent Nathan Tomasello (125), Micah Jordan (141), Bo Jordan (165), Myles Martin (174) and Kyle Snyder (285) into the quarterfinals. Micah and Bo Jordan are Graham High School graduates.
But the Buckeyes did most of their damage in the first round. They logged four pins, a technical fall and a major decision while taking a 16.5-16 lead against the Nittany Lions after the first session.
Tomasello, the defending 125-pound champion, opened the tournament with a technical fall over Iowa State’s Kyle Larson and majored Indiana’s Elijah Oliver 11-2 in the second round. Johnni DiJulius, Micah Jordan, Bo Jordan and Snyder picked up opening-round falls.
After glancing up at the team score and finding Penn State slightly ahead following his 8-3 win over Virginia Tech’s David McFadden, Bo Jordan said he thinks the Buckeyes can keep pace as the tournament extends to Saturday’s finals.
“Penn State has got some freaking animals. Their whole team is beasts,” Jordan said. “I thought for sure they were going to kill us pretty bad in bonus points the first round. We were ahead by .5. Still, that means nothing. There’s a whole tournament to wrestle. If the majority of our guys just wrestle to their ability, they can do really good things.”
No. 12 Nebraska is fourth with 20 and No. 4 Iowa, No. 6 Missouri and No. 3 Virginia Tech are tied for fifth with 17.5.
All No. 1 seeds and returning defending champions from last year advanced to the quarters. In addition to Tomasello, Oklahoma’s Cody Brewer (133), Illinois’ Isaiah Martinez (157), Oklahoma State’s Alex Dieringer (165), Cornell’s Gabe Dean (184) and N.C. State’s Nick Gwiazdowski (285) made it to the second round.
Also moving on was Missouri’s J’Den Cox, champion at 197 pounds two years ago.
Northwestern’s Jason Tsirtsis, who won the 149-pound title two years ago, lost 7-1 in the second round to Oklahoma State’s Anthony Collica.
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