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No. 15 Pitt wrestlers take shot at No. 3 Penn State

Pete Madia
Pitt senior Matt Wilps, ranked second nationally, will face Penn State’s Quentin Wright, who is No. 3 in the country. (Pitt Athletics)

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3-PSU at 15-Pitt

7 p.m. Friday, Fitzgerald Field House

TV: Pitt Panthers TV (Comcast 188 and 210)

Wrestling rivalry

The Penn State wrestling team is 7-2-1 in its past 10 meetings with Pitt.

Date Result

Feb. 19, 2012 PSU 33, Pitt 6

Jan. 21, 2011 PSU 30, Pitt 7

Dec. 12, 2009 Pitt 19, PSU 19

Jan. 9, 2005 PSU 26, Pitt 19

Jan. 9, 2004 PSU 28, Pitt 15

Jan. 5, 2002 Pitt 18, PSU 12

Jan. 6, 2001 Pitt 18, PSU 15

Jan. 5, 1999 PSU 21, Pitt 13

Feb. 14, 1998 PSU 16, Pitt 15

Jan. 17, 1998 PSU 24, Pitt 15

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Mike Palm
Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013, 8:00 p.m.
 

It didn't take long for the Penn State wrestling team to rebound from its first loss of the season.

Less than 48 hours, actually.

And with authority.

Just two days after then-No. 1 Penn State fell, 22-16, at No. 2 Iowa, the Nittany Lions blanked No. 6 Illinois, 37-0, Sunday in Champaign, Ill.

“We rebounded,” said Penn State 125-pounder Nico Megaludis, a Franklin Regional graduate. “I'm not saying (losing's) a good thing, but we build off it, and it seems like we get better.”

Next up for No. 3 Penn State (9-1) is No. 15 Pitt (8-4) at 7 p.m. Friday at Fitzgerald Field House in a match that's been sold out for weeks.

The Panthers are on a two-match winning streak after handling Lock Haven (33-6) and West Virginia (31-9).

“They're stacked. But it's still Pitt and Penn State,” Pitt coach Rande Stottlemyer said. “We'll come at them and see what we can hit. Our guys, we're going to swing the bat. We ain't going up there thinking we're losing, I can tell you that. Penn State is loaded, there's no two ways about it. But we've got some pretty good kids as well.”

Pitt brings five wrestlers ranked in the Intermat top 20: Shelton Mack (16th, 133); Tyler Wilps (17th, 165); Max Thomusseit (13th, 184); Matt Wilps (second, 197); and Zac Thomusseit (eighth, heavyweight).

Penn State, the two-time defending NCAA team champion, counters with eight ranked wrestlers: Megaludis (second, 125); Andrew Alton (seventh, 149); Dylan Alton (fifth, 157); David Taylor (second, 165); Matt Brown (fifth, 174); Ed Ruth (first, 184); Quentin Wright (third, 197); and Jon Gingrich (17th, heavyweight).

A rematch between Matt Wilps and Wright should be one of Friday's highlights. In November at the NWCA All-Star Classic exhibition in Washington, Wilps (16-1) pinned Wright (20-0), whom Megaludis called “probably the most dangerous kid in college wrestling.”

“I'll just go in with the same mentality as the all-star meet,” Matt Wilps said. “He's a risk-taker. When he goes out there, he'll throw big moves. He's probably fazed, but he's a top-level guy so he knows how to handle it. I'm sure it will be a good match.”

Megaludis is no stranger to tough matches on the highest stage. As a freshman, he advanced to the NCAA championships, where he lost in the final, 4-1, to Iowa's Matt McDonough. He fell to McDonough again, 2-1 (TB), last weekend before 15,000 fans at Iowa's Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

To say the crowd at Iowa was boisterous would be an understatement. Megaludis expects a similar atmosphere Friday, although there should be some Penn State fans because his parents bought at least 50 tickets.

“I actually like it. It's basically saying I'm a threat to them,” he said. “They're trying to say stuff to you, and I take it as a compliment. I'm threatening them, that's pretty much what I can tell by it.”

Along with a trip to No. 2 Oklahoma State, the match with Penn State has long been considered one of Pitt's highlights this season.

“As soon as it was on our schedule, we were excited for it,” Tyler Wilps said. “We just know it's going to be a great match. They're a good team; we have good guys. The Fitzgerald Field House is going to be packed, so it's going to be exciting.”

Mike Palm is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at mpalm@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MikePalm_Trib.

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