Nittany Lions Reflect on Third Straight National Title
March 28, 2013
By Matt Allibone, GoPSUSports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As Quentin Wright took the mat for what would be his final match in a Penn State singlet, the four time All-American couldn't have asked for a better script.
With the Nittany Lions needing one more win to pull away from second place Oklahoma State to secure their third straight national title, the Wingate, Pa native found himself face to face with Kent State's Dustin Kilgore, who like Wright, was looking to cap off an undefeated season with his second individual title.
"I knew one of us had to take it upon our shoulders to get it and I thought why not me," said Wright. "Let's go out there. Let's win this. Let's clinch the team race."
Going up against an opponent that hadn't been taken down once all year, Wright scored three takedowns on Kilgore, including two in the final period for an 8-6 victory that put the finishing touches on an incredible senior season for Wright as well as another title for the Nittany Lions.
Even after clinching the second national title of his decorated career, Wright seemed much prouder of his team's accomplishment than his own.
"The team race is really important to me personally," said Wright. "Winning (for myself) too, but more importantly, the team race is important."
Wright's victory gave Penn State its second individual national champion, after junior Ed Ruth scored a dominant 12-4 major decision over Lehigh's Robert Hamlin for his second consecutive national title.
For Ruth, the most memorable moment of his title run occurred directly after his win over Hamlin, when head coach Cael Sanderson congratulated him by lifting the 184-pounder up onto his shoulders.
"That's one of the things that makes me even more proud to win the title because, at the same time, I'm making my coaches happy," said Ruth. "These guys that put so much time and effort into me, and they dedicate a lot of themselves, not just time, but themselves, just everything that they have to make you who you are."While Ruth was quick to thank his coaching staff for the impact they had on his success, Sanderson made sure that the credit for the Nittany Lions title was given solely to his wrestlers.
Sanderson stated he was immensely proud of not only Wright and Ruth, but all ten of his starters who qualified for the national tournament, including junior David Taylor, sophomore Nico Megaludis, and sophomore Matt Brown, who all reached the finals and were named All-Americans.
"I'm really proud of these guys, I guess, for the effort and what they did," said Sanderson. "They went out there and they scored the most points. That's what wins."
What set this team apart, according to the coaching staff, was the toughness and work ethic that each member of the team exhibited, not just during the national tournament, but during the whole season in general.
It is these traits that Sanderson believes has allowed his program to reign as the kings of college wrestling for three consecutive years now.
"It takes character and that's what this sport is all about. That's what it takes," said Sanderson. "It's just being tough."
Although the Nittany Lions are thrilled to have accomplished the goal that they set out to achieve at the beginning of the season, they have no plans on letting their run of success end any time soon.
With eight starters returning to the lineup next season, including All-Americans Ruth, Taylor, Megaludis and Brown as well as 2012 All-American Dylan Alton, Penn State has its eye set on nothing less than their fourth straight national championship.
For the time being though, the Lions are going to sit back and enjoy their most recent championship, and reflect on all the long hours of hard work they put into winning it.
"I think every year you have different challenges. It certainly doesn't get any easier," said Sanderson. "We're super happy. Our guys did a great job. Back and forth. Our guys came through."
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