No. 7 Penn State Closes Out Dual Meet Slate With 35-8 Win at Lock Haven
By: Pat Donghia
LOCK HAVEN, Pa.; February 23, 2008 – The Penn State Nittany Lion wrestling team, ranked No. 7 nationally, closed out its dual meet season with a resounding 35-8 win at Lock Haven. Nittany Lion head coach Troy Sunderland rested four starters in the dual and still came away with eight wins, including a pin from senior Phil Davis (Harrisburg, Pa.) in his final collegiate dual.
Senior 125-pounder Mark McKnight (McDonald, Pa.), ranked No. 9 nationally, got a forfeit to start the bout, getting his 100th career collegiate victory in the process. He is now 100-40 overall with 35 of those wins coming as a Nittany Lion. Senior Tim Haas (Camp Hill, Pa.), also perhaps wrestling in his final collegiate dual, got a solid 7-3 win at 133.
Penn State starters Garrett Scott (Alexandria, Pa.) at 141, Dan Vallimont (Lake Hopatcong, N.J.) at 157, David Erwin (Urbana, Ohio) at 174 and Phil Bomberger (Port Royal, Pa.)at 184 , all ranked nationally at their respective weights, each sat out the final dual due to either the flu or to get a break heading into Big Tens.
A slew of Penn Staters then stepped in and continued to rack up wins for Penn State. Junior All-American Jake Strayer (South Fork, Pa.) got a technical fall at 141, sophomore Bubba Jenkins (Virginia Beach, Va.), ranked No. 5 at 149, moved up to 157 and got a major and sophomore Dave Rella (Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio) got a major at 165.
Red-shirt freshman Michael Lorenzo (Bellefonte, Pa.) moved up from 165 to step in at 174 and posted a thrilling 5-2 win over Lock Haven’s Michael Metzger before No. 3 Davis got his pin at 197. Davis got the fall over LHU’s Ben Hepburn at the 5:25 mark. Davis improved his career record to 107-20, his dual meet record to 58-6 and posted his 28th career pin in the process. Junior heavyweight John Laboranti (Pittston, Pa.) wrapped up the dual with a major for Penn State’s eighth win. The Nittany Lions’ only losses were at 149, where reserve 133-pounder Mike Eagen (Wharton, N.J.) was defeated, and at 184, where reserve Jack Decker (Roseland, N.J.) lost a close 3-1 sudden victory decision.
Penn State ends the dual meet season with a 14-5 mark. The Nittany Lions went 5-3 in Big Ten duals. Lock Haven falls to 9-8. The Nittany Lions will trek to Minneapolis for the 2008 Big Ten Wrestling Championships, hosted by the University of Minnesota. Action in Williams Arena will take place on Saturday and Sunday, March 8-9. For more information on the tournament and for tickets, go to www.gophersports.com. All Penn State’s post-season action will be broadcast locally on WBLF 970 AM and WKVA 920 AM and streamed live at www.GoPSUsports.com.
#7 Penn State 35, Lock Haven 8
Saturday, February 23, 2008 – Lock Haven, Pa.
125: #9 Mark McKnight PSU WB forfeit 6-0
133: Tim Haas PSU dec. Billy Ashnault LHU, 7-3 9-0
141: Jake Strayer PSU tech. fall George Ester LHU, 19-2 (6:51) 14-0
149: Matt Fittery LHU tech. fall Mike Eagen PSU, 21-6 (7:00) 14-5
157: #5 Bubba Jenkins PSU maj. dec. John Mangini LHU, 19-8 18-5
165: Dave Rella PSU maj. dec. Derek Caldwell LHU, 19-6 22-5
174: Michael Lorenzo PSU dec. Michael Metzger LHU, 5-2 25-5
184: Jeremie Cook LHU dec. Jack Decker PSU, 3-1 (sv) 25-8
197: #3 Phil Davis PSU pinned Ben Hepburn LHU, WBF (5:25) 31-8
HWT: John Laboranti PSU maj. dec. Dan Craig LHU, 13-5 35-8
Final Score: #7 Penn State 35, Lock Haven 8
Records: Penn State 14-5, 5-3 Big Ten; Lock Haven 9-8, 2-4 EWL
Up next: 2008 Big Ten Wrestling Championships, University of Minnesota, March 8-9
125: Senior Mark McKnight (McDonald, Pa.), ranked No. 9 at 125, stepped onto the mat and received a forfeit, earning his 100th career collegiate victory. McKnight now has a 100-40 career record. He is 35-17 as a Nittany Lion and went 65-23 at Buffalo in 2004 and 2005. McKnight’s forfeit victory gave Penn State an early 6-0 lead.
133: Senior co-captain Tim Haas (Camp Hill, Pa.), perhaps in his final dual meet in a Blue and White singlet, battled Lock Haven’s Billy Ashnault. Haas quickly got in on Ashnault’s right leg and nearly got the first takedown of the bout, but Ashnault fought through the move and kept things scoreless early on. Haas repeated the single-leg a minute later and Ashnault fought out of trouble again, but the Nittany Lion senior continued his aggression and completed a solid double-leg takedown with :52 left to take a 2-1 lead after an Ashnault escape. Haas then used a very quick ankle pic to trip up Ashnault and rode the Bald Eagle out to lead 4-1 after one period. Haas chose down to start the second period and steadily worked through Ashnault’s hold to a reversal and a 6-1 lead. Ashnault escaped to a 6-2 deficit before the period ended. Down 6-2 and giving up :53 in riding time, Ashnault chose down to start the third period but could not escape before Haas built up a 1:06 edge in riding time. The escape cut Haas’ lead to 6-3. Haas then worked to get another takedown, but Ashnault was solid enough to keep the Penn State senior from notching another scored. Haas posted the 7-3 win, putting Penn State up 9-0.
141: True freshman Garrett Scott (Alexandria, Pa.) ranked No. 9 at 141, was still recovering from the flu that swept through the team and was given the night off to rest for Big Tens in two weeks. In his stead, returning All-American Jake Strayer (South Fork, Pa.) took to the mat to battle Lock Haven sophomore George Ester. Strayer and Ester traded early scoring jabs with neither man finishing off for two points. After a reset, Strayer nearly got his first takedown on the edge of the mat, but Ester got out of bounds to keep things scoreless. Strayer was relentless, however and got his first takedown with :58 left. After a brief scramble on top, Strayer completed a cradle and turned Ester for three back points as the period ended to lead 5-0 after one period. Ester chose neutral to begin the second period, but Strayer quickly turned the decision into a 7-0 lead with a quick takedown. Strayer then put together a very tough ride, maintaining control of the young Bald Eagle for the rest of the period. Strayer, leading 7-0 with 2:42 in riding time, chose neutral to start the third period and began working for bonus points. Strayer took Ester down within the first five seconds, cut him and took him down quickly once again to up his lead to 11-1. He then turned Ester to his back and got another three-point nearly fall to up his lead to 14-1. Strayer then cut Ester with 1:00 left in order to go for the technical fall. Strayer got the takedown with :30 left, going up 16-2. A three-point near fall gave Strayer the 19-2 technical fall at the 6:51 mark, putting Penn State up 14-0 after three bouts.
149: Sophomore Bubba Jenkins (Virginia Beach, Va.), ranked No. 5 nationally, moved up a weight to 157 for the evening. Freshman Mike Eagen (Wharton, N.J.), Penn State’s back up 133-pounder, moved up two weights to 149 and faced LHU’s Matt Fittery. Fittery quickly used his size advantage to take Eagen down and add three back points for an early 5-0 lead. Eagen escaped but Fittery added another takedown at the 1:20 mark to go up 7-2 after an Eagen escape. Fittery took Eagen down a third time with just :40 left and added two back points to bolt out to an 11-2 lead. But Eagen turned a Fittery pin attempt into a reversal to cut the Fittery lead to 11-4 after one period. Eagen chose down to start the second period and escaped to an 11-5 deficit. Eagen then upped his offensive tempo, looking for an opening with a serious of quick shots. But Fittery kept Eagen from finishing anything and then upped his lead to 13-5 with at takedown at the :35 mark. The Bald Eagle then rode Eagen out to carry that eight point lead (with 2:12 in riding time) into the final period. Fittery chose down to start the final period and escaped to a 14-5 lead right away. Fittery, a junior who entered the bout with an 18-8 record, added another takedown to lead 16-5 with 1:20 left. Eagen escaped but Fittery added a quick four-point move as time expired (a takedown and two back points) to go up 20-6. A bonus point for riding time gave the LHU junior a 21-6 technical fall at the 7:00 mark and cut Penn State’s lead to 14-5.
157: Sophomore Dan Vallimont (Lake Hopatcong, N.J.), ranked No. 3 at 157, was also given the evening off in preparation for the Big Ten Championships and Jenkins moved up to 157 to face Lock Haven’s John Mangini. Jenkins had little trouble with Mangini’s size advantage, getting a quick takedown at the 2:40 mark to lead 2-1 after a Mangini escape. Jenkins looked to throw Mangini, but the Bald Eagle countered the move and nearly took Jenkins down himself. Undeterred, Jenkins worked his way behind Mangini to get a second takedown and lead 4-1 with 1:40 left in the opening period. The Nittany Lions sophomore then began looking to turn Mangini for back points. Mangini managed to work out from Jenkins’ control to escape to a 4-2 deficit with :35 left. Jenkins then nearly completed a cement mixer for a quick pin, but Mangini rolled through, giving up only a takedown. Mangini, down 6-2, chose down to start the second period and quickly escaped to a 6-3 deficit. Jenkins countered a Mangini high shot and tripped the Bald Eagle down to the mat for an 8-3 lead withy 1:20 left in the period. After a reset, Fittery escaped to an 8-4 deficit, but Jenkins quickly lifted the bigger Bald Eagle off the mat and sent him down for another takedown and a 10-5 lead (with 2:25 in riding time) after two periods. Jenkins chose down to start the third period and steadily worked his way behind Mangini for a reversal and a 12-6 lead (after a quick Mangini escape). Another near mixer led to another Jenkins takedown and the Nittany Lion led 14-7 with 1:00 to wrestle. Jenkins began looking for bonus points, taking Mangini down and cutting the Bald Eagle quickly thereafter. Leading 16-8, Jenkins added one more takedown as time expired and, with the riding time point, posted a 19-8 major decision. The victory put Penn State up 18-5
165: Nittany Lion sophomore Dave Rella (Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio) met Bald Eagle Derek Caldwell at 165. Rella countered an early Caldwell shot and worked his way into a quick takedown just :15 into the bout. He then turned the Bald Eagle for three back points. Caldwell managed to stave off the pin and after rolling through trouble, was cut loose by Rella to a 5-1 deficit. Caldwell shot low on Rella again and once again the Nittany Lion sophomore countered the move, stepped to the side of the Bald Eagle and worked his way into a takedown and a 7-2 lead (after a Caldwell escape). Rella then shot low on Caldwell’s ankle and tripped the LHU grappler to the mat to up his lead to 9-2 after one period. Leading by seven with 1:34 in riding time, Rella chose down to start the second period. He managed to escape to a 10-2 lead at the 1:02 mark. Caldwell shot low on Rella once again, and once again Rella stepped back and around the Bald Eagle to get another takedown to lead 12-2 after two periods. Caldwell chose down to start the third period and escaped at the 1:21 mark. But Rella continued to add points, taking down Caldwell and cutting the Bald Eagle twice to lead 16-5 with :40 left. A headlock led to another takedown and cut led to an 18-6 lead with :20 left. Rella worked on the edge of the mat for a takedown that would have led to a technical fall, but Caldwell managed to hold the Nittany Lion off, giving up only a 19-6 major decision. The four points gave Penn State a 22-5 lead.
174: With Penn State resting No. 16 David Erwin (Urbana, Ohio) at 174, freshman 165-pounder Michael Lorenzo (Bellefonte, Pa.) moved up a weight and stepped in to battle LHU senior Michael Metzger. Lorenzo was wrestling in his second dual meet this season. Metzger, a senior wrestling in his final LHU bout, got in on Lorenzo’s feet to force a scramble that had Lorenzo fighting off his back. The Nittany Lion red-shirt freshman managed to fight off the effort and did not give up a takedown either, keeping things scoreless 1:00 into the bout. Lorenzo then got in deep on Metzger’s right thigh and it was Metzger’s turn to force a scramble and a stalemate, this time with just :30 left in the opening period. With just :07 left, Lorenzo caught Metzger’s ankles on the edge of the mat for a takedown and a 2-0 lead after the first period. Metzger chose down to start the second period but Lorenzo put together a very strong ride, working for an opportunity to turn the Bald Eagle senior while building up a sizeable riding time edge. Metzger nearly reversed Lorenzo as the period ended, but the Nittany Lion freshman maintained his control to keep hi s 2-0 lead (with :07 in riding time) after two periods. Lorenzo chose down to start the third period and Metzger cut him loose to a 3-0 lead. Metzger caught Lorenzo for a takedown on the edge of the mat to cut the Lion’s lead to 4-2 after an escape. Lorenzo then managed to fight off Metzger’s scoring attempts, maintaining his two point lead until the end of the bout. The riding time point gave the young Nittany Lion a hard-fought 5-2 win and put Penn State up 25-5. The win was Lorenzo’s first career dual match victory.
184: Junior Phil Bomberger (Port Royal, Pa.), ranked No. 14 at 184, was Penn State’s fourth starter to get a night off, allowing junior Jack Decker (Roseland, N.J.) the opportunity to meet Lock Haven’s Jeremie Cook at 184. Decker had the best scoring chances early, nearly getting takedowns twice on the edge of the mat. But each time, Cook managed to get out of bounds to force resets in the center circle. Neither man scored in the opening stanza and action headed to the second period tied at 0-0. Cook chose down to start the second period and began working for a reversal. Decker locked his hands in the process of fight the move off, giving up a point in the process, but not giving up the reversal. After a reset, Decker continued a strong ride, keeping control of Cook for the entire period. Trailing 1-0 due to the penalty point, but owning 2:00 in riding time, Decker chose down to begin the third period. This time, Cook was strong on top, keeping control of Decker long enough to wipe away Decker’s riding time edge. Needing an escape to tie the bout after a reset, Decker worked his way out of Cook’s grasp to tie things a 1-1 with :40 left. Cook shot low on Decker, but the Nittany Lion countered the move and worked his shoulders into Cook’s midsection, nearly getting a winning takedown as time expired. But the scramble resulted in nothing and the 1-1 bout went to a first sudden victory period. Each man had an early chance to score in the extra period, but it was Cook who got the winning takedown with just :17 left, working his way around Decker after a brief Decker shot to post the 3-1 sudden victory decision. The win cut Penn State’s lead to 25-8.
197: Wrestling in the final dual meet of his illustrious Penn State career, three-time All-American Phil Davis (Harrisburg, Pa.) took on Lock Haven’s Ben Hepburn at 197. Davis entered the dual ranked No. 3 in the country while Hepburn is the older brother of Nittany Lion wrestler Justin Hepburn. Davis shot early and often, finally gaining control of Hepburn on the edge of the mat, pulling the Bald Eagle in and getting his first takedown at the 1:57 mark. After a reset in the center circle, Davis began looking for his opening. Davis nearly turned the Bald Eagle once, but the junior rolled through and kept from giving up any back points. Davis rode Hepburn out and led 2-0 with 1:58 in riding time. The Nittany Lion senior then chose down to start the second stanza and worked his way out for an escape and a 3-0 lead with 1:40 left in the second period. Hepburn shot in on Davis but the quick Lion countered and took the Bald Eagle down to lead 5-1 after cutting him. Davis then picked Hepburn up, tossed him to his back and nearly pinned him. But the move came on the edge of the mat and Davis only got a takedown to lead 7-1 with :45 left in the period. Davis cut Hepburn on the reset and began working for another takedown. He deftly got the points on the edge of the mat and led 9-3 after cutting the LHU wrestler again. One more takedown on the edge of the mat, and another cut, led to an 11-4 lead with :18 left. Davis once more picked Hepburn up, lifting him into the air and setting his back down on the mat for a takedown and two near-fall points to lead 15-4 after two periods. Hepburn chose down to start the third period and would pay for the decision. Davis worked the Bald Eagle quickly to his back and got a pin at the 5:25 mark, getting a fall in his final collegiate dual meet. The fall gave the Nittany Lions a 31-8 lead.
HWT: Junior John Laboranti (Pittston, Pa.) took to the mat against Lock Haven’s Dan Craig at heavyweight. The two big men battled evenly through the first period, with neither man managing a real scoring chance until Craig got in on Laboranti’s right ankle and nearly took the Nittany Lion down at the 1:00 mark. But Laboranti worked his way out of trouble and kept things scoreless after one period. Laboranti chose down to start the second period and worked his way out from underneath Craig. He then shifted the Bald Eagle off his back and slid behind him for a two point reversal. Craig then escaped, cutting Laboranti’s lead to 2-1, with :55 left in the period. The Nittany Lion junior got his first takedown, going up 4-1 with a solid takedown on the edge of the mat. A short ride-out later allowed Laboranti to carry that 4-1 lead into the final period. Craig chose down to start the third period and escaped to a 4-2 deficit, but Laboranti continued to pour on the offense, getting another takedown with 1:20 left to push his lead to 6-3 after a Craig escape. Laboranti added his third takedown, using a double leg and then cutting Craig loose to lead 8-4 with :35 left to wrestle. A solid counter move by Laboranti, and another cut, gave the Nittany Lion junior a 10-5 lead with :22 left, giving him just seconds to get a takedown and post a major decision. Laboranti turned the major trick, stepping behind Craig with :08 left and then riding Craig out to post a 13-5 major and give Penn State the dual meet 35-8 victory.
Tags: Bubba Jenkins, Dan Vallimont, Dave Rella, David Erwin, Garrett Scott, Jack Decker, Jake Strayer, John Laboranti, Justin Hepburn, Mark McKnight, Michael Lorenzo, Mike Eagen, Phil Bomberger, Phil Davis, Tim Haas, Troy Sunderland