By Ben Golden
Amateur Wrestling News
Washington, D.C. – The 47th Annual NWCA All-Star Classic brought 20 of the nation’s finest Division I wrestler’s to American University’s Bender Arena in the nation’s capital on Saturday evening.
One of the nation’s most-discussed matches highlighted the event as three-time NCAA champion Kyle Dake of Cornell was set to face returning 165-pound NCAA champion David Taylor of Penn State.
But it wasn’t the Dake-Taylor show that put up the event’s fireworks.
After a series of preliminary matches, the first feature saw two of last season’s best freshmen compete in an early Big Ten matchup as No. 2 Nico Megaludis of Penn State took on No. 3 Jesse Delgado of Illinois.
Delgado opened up the scoring with a scrambling takedown on the edge of the mat a minute into the match. He rode for another minute before Megaludis escaped. The two traded escapes in the second and third periods and engaged in a number of scrambles of Megaludis single legs. Most resulted in stalemates, until the official awarded Megaludis two points with ten seconds remaining in the match. Megaludis rode out the final seconds for a 4-3 win.
At 133 pounds, Minnesota’s Chris Dardanes and Edinboro’s A.J. Schopp met up. The two met last season at the NCAA championships with the match going to Dardanes. On Saturday, it would be Schopp who would come away with the victory. After an active but scoreless first period, Schopp opened up the scoring with an escape 25 seconds into the second period. Schopp rode him in the third period long enough to collect 1:10 of riding time before yielding an escape. In short time, Dardanes attacked with a double leg, but Schopp chest locked out of so no points were scored. The match ended and Schopp was awarded the winning point for his riding time advantage.
It was top-ranked Kendric Maple of Oklahoma who drew first blood with a takedown a minute into the 141-pound match and pulled away with a 6-2 win over No. 6 B.J. Futrell of Illinois. Futrell, who is bumping up this year after competing at 133 the last two seasons, was unable to escape in two minutes of first period action, but still opted for bottom to start the second period. It proved a good decision; he escaped in two seconds. Futrell forced the action for most of the second period and the first minute of the third, often shooting Maple off the mat with single legs. However, Maple took the shot that counted, scoring a second takedown with a minute left. Futrell escaped, but the damage was done. After the riding time point, Maple walked off the mat with a 6-2 win.
Boise State’s Jason Chamberlain collected two takedowns and 42 seconds of riding time while giving up two escapes in the first period in a 6-3 victory over Nick Lester of Oklahoma. Chamberlain added a third takedown in the second period while building his riding time advantage to 1:38. Having been ineffective on his feet for two periods, Lester chose top for the third period. While he was tenacious and physical, he was not able to score.
At 157 pounds, No. 3 Dylan Alton of Penn State faced No. 4 Jason Welch of Northwestern in a rematch of last year’s NCAA consolation final. Alton’s offense was active but fruitless in the first period; the period ended scoreless. In the second, he quickly escaped. The two wrestlers exchanged some animated shots, launching each other into press row, but scored no takedowns. In the third period, Welch easily escaped, but Dylan Alton locked up a near-side cradle for a takedown. Welch escaped, but could not score a takedown of his own. Alton held on for a 3-2 victory.
What followed was what some media outlets dubbed as Match of the Century. The 165-pound matchup of three-time NCAA Champion Kyle Dake of Cornell and 2012 Hodge Trophy winner David Taylor of Penn State. Despite all the hype, there were no high-scoring exchanges as Dake topped Taylor 2-1 in the tiebreaker.
Both wrestlers rewarded the other’s considerable accomplishment with much respect in the first period; there were no real offensive attempts. Dake clamped on to a couple front headlocks, Taylor dropped for a couple half-hearted ankle pick attempts, but neither committed to an attack and the period ended scoreless. Dake began the second period on bottom. Taylor rode and drove him out of bounds for 50 seconds before surrendering an escape. Taylor shot in on a single late in the period, precipitating a flurry of action that finally lived up to the anticipation of the event; however, the period ended the scramble before points were scored.
Taylor escaped 14 seconds into the third period, and the two exchanged a few attempts that befit the chess-like match. So the pair went to sudden victory, which, again, ended without any additional scoring. Ultimately, Dake won the bout in the first tiebreaker by riding Taylor out, escaping and fending off a series of Taylor’s desperate attempts in the waning seconds.
“I like to think I am the best scrambler in the country,” said Dake in a release by the NWCA. “In the overtime, I was confident I could escape after I rode out Taylor.”
Overtime would surface for a second straight match as third-ranked Josh Asper from nearby Maryland topped Jordan Blanton of Illinois 3-1 in sudden victory. After a scoreless first period in the 174-pound bout, Blanton, wrestling in his third All-Star Classic escaped from underneath Asper 45 seconds into the second period. Asper returned the favor 15 seconds into the third period, forcing overtime. Asper earned the slight upset with a takedown 20 seconds into the extra period.
“It was an awesome crowd. It is great to be around the corner from Maryland with all of our fans,” said Asper. “It felt great to get my first win at 174.”
Third-ranked Robert Hamlin of Lehigh, a 2011 NCAA finalist, topped fourth-ranked Kevin Steinhaus of Minnesota 5-3 in a matchup of two two-time All-Americans. Hamlin took a 2-1 second period lead in the 184-pound match with a single leg takedown, but Steinhaus was quick to tie things up with his second escape of the period. Hamlin earned an immediate escape of his own in the third period, and later added an insurance takedown with a slick high crotch. A third Steinhaus escape left the final score 5-3.
At 197 pounds, second-ranked Matt Wilps of Pittsburgh faced third-ranked Quentin Wright of Penn State. Wright was making his debut at 197 after making trips to the NCAA finals the last two seasons. It would be a wild match as Wilps ended up getting a late pin to defeat the Nittany Lion senior. Wright, known for his high-amplitude style, attempted a head and arm in the first period, but Wilps slipped through to steal the takedown. Wilps then tilted the Nittany Lion senior for two back points, but Wright was able to turn through the tilt for a reversal to Wilps’ back.
Wright collected three back points to take a 5-4 lead. WIlps returned the reversal and rode out the match. Early in the second period, Wright escaped to tie it up at 6. For the rest of the period, no points were scored. While it seemed like a wild match might calm down, that did not last through the third period. Wilps began on bottom and again reversed Wright and put him on his back to turn the tie match to a 10-6 affair.
But Wright escaped, and was not willing to gently fade away. He continued his attack, scoring a takedown to come within one point of Wilps. Wright released the Pitt Panther, and scored a tying takedown. However, Wilps countered Wright’s inside trip attempt and took Wright to his back for the fall with 10 seconds remaining.
In the final match of the night, No. 5 heavyweight Dom Bradley of Missouri earned an “upset” in his return to folkstyle action after taking an Olympic redshirt last season. He knocked off No. 4 Mike McMullan of Northwestern 3-2, off the strength of a second period takedown.
For his efforts, Maple was named Outstanding Wrestler for the blue team. Dake’s win over Taylor made him an easy selection for the red team’s OW award.
Youth: Sam Kalishman (Maryland) FALL Gene Quodala (Virginia) 5:22.
133: #1 (NAIA) Travis Barroquillo, So. Indiana Tech DEC #2 (NCWA) Sam Shames, Jr. MIT 8-2
149: Kevin Tao, Sr. American MD #1 (Division III) Kodie Silvestri, Sr. Wartburg 12-4
285: #1 (Division II) Matt Meuleners, Sr. Northern State TF Jake Kettler, So. George Mason 16-1
Division I Results
125: #2 Nico Megaludis, So. Penn State DEC #3 Jesse Delgado, So. Illinois 4-3.
133: #7 A.J. Schopp, So. Edinboro DEC #4 Chris Dardanes, So. Minnesota 2-1.
141: #1 Kendric Maple, Jr. Oklahoma DEC #6 B.J. Futrell, Sr. Illinois 6-2.
149: #3 Jason Chamberlain, Sr. Boise State DEC #8 Nick Lester, Jr. Oklahoma 6-3.
157: #3 Dylan Alton, So. Penn State DEC #4 Jason Welch, Sr. Northwestern 3-2.
165: #1 Kyle Dake, Sr. Cornell DEC #2 David Taylor, Jr. Penn State 2-1, TB1
174: #3 Josh Asper, Sr. Maryland DEC #2 Jordan Blanton, Sr. Illinois 3-1, SV
184: #3 Robert Hamlin, Sr. Lehigh DEC #4 Kevin Steinhaus, Jr. Minnesota 5-3.
197: #2 Matt Wilps, Sr. Pittsburgh FALL #3 Quentin Wright, Sr. Penn State 6:50.
285: #5 Dom Bradley, Sr. Missouri DEC #4 Mike McMullan, So. Northwestern 3-2.