By The Daily Item
UNIVERSITY PARK -- Zain Retherford brought a sell-out crowd to its feet Sunday at Rec Hall with a stunning upset of the country's top-ranked wrestler, and Penn State buried Ohio State in the teams' Big Ten opener, 31-6.
Retherford, ranked No. 8 at 141 pounds, faced unbeaten Logan Stieber, the defending NCAA champion at 133, in the match's third bout.
The Nittany Lion true freshman used a strong second-period ride out to build a riding time edge that sent the bout into extra time. Then, in the sudden victory period, he worked a single-leg takedown on Stieber for a 4-2 win.
Retherford, who won a state championship at Line Mountain before finishing his high school career at Benton, improved to 11-0 before a sell-out crowd of 6,380. It was Penn State's 14th-straight home sellout.
The win gave Penn State an 8-3 match lead and kicked off a run of six consecutive Nittany Lions' wins that pushed the advantage to 27-3. The last three in the string were bonus-point wins, and Penn State had five in all.
Senior David Taylor, ranked No. 1 at 165, had a dominating 20-5 technical fall over Ohio State's Joe Grandominico. Junior Matt Brown, ranked No. 3 at 174, then majored Mark Martin, 16-4 in 3:39. And senior Ed Ruth, ranked No. 1 at 184, returned to action for Penn State with a resounding 14-3 major over No. 12 Kenny Courts.
The Lions' other bonus-point wins came courtesy of junior Nico Megaludis, ranked No. 3 at 125, with a 21-4 technical fall, and junior Jimmy Lawson, ranked No. 12 at 285, with a dominating 15-4 major.
Taylor and Ruth continue to climb the Penn State career charts. Taylor is now 111-3 with 44 pins, 16th all-time at Penn State. Ruth moves to 113-2 overall, alone in 14th on Penn State's all-time victories list.
In the 141-pound bout, Stieber scored early, using a high single to work his way to a takedown and a 2-1 lead on Retherford 40 seconds in. Stieber then controlled the action from the top, building up 53 seconds in time before Retherford escaped for a 2-1 score. Retherford then got in on Stieber's left ankle, working for a takedown on the edge of the mat, but Stieber was able to slip out of bounds to keep the one point lead. Retherford was hit for stalling with 40 seconds showing as action returned to the center circle. He fought off a late Stieber shot and trailed by one after one period.
Stieber chose down to start the second period and Retherford was able to break the Buckeye down in the middle of the mat. Retherford maintained control of Stieber long enough to kill any riding time edge first, and then forced Stieber into a stall warning. Retherford maintained control of the Buckeye until a reset was called with 19 seconds on the clock. He then continued his ride out after the reset and trailed by one with 1:07 in time to his edge after two periods.
Retherford chose neutral to start the third period and quickly got in on Stieber's left ankle. The Buckeye's counter forced a scramble on the edge of the mat. A stalemate was called with 57 seconds left and action resumed in the center circle. Stieber shot low, but Retherford fought off the shot and with 30 seconds left the Lion still trailed by one. Retherford's riding time sent the bout to sudden victory where, with a quick shot, he gained control of Stieber's ankle again and dropped him with just less than 30 seconds left.
Penn State improves to 6-0, 1-0 in the Big Ten, while Ohio State falls to 4-1, 0-1.
The Lions have a non-conference dua against Iowa on Saturday at 9 p.m. The match will air live on the Big Ten Network.