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No. 1 Penn St. grabs lead with Oklahoma St., Minnesota and Iowa close behind at NCAA Championships

David Taylor of Penn State is in control on the way to a pin over John Staudenmayer of UNC at 165 pounds in round one of NCAA Championships. Tony Rotundo photo

DES MOINES, Iowa – Top-ranked Penn State is the favorite, but the Nittany Lions know they are in for a battle at the NCAA Wrestling Championships.

Winners of the last two NCAA team titles, Penn State took the early lead with 14.5 points before 16,000 fans as the three-day tournament kicked off Thursday at Wells Fargo Arena.

The Nittany Lions advanced six wrestlers to Thursday night’s second round and piled up some early bonus points to gain the early lead.

Oklahoma State is in second with 13 points and seven wrestlers in the second round. Minnesota is third with 11 points and eight wrestlers in the second round.

Iowa sits in fourth with 10 points, but the Hawkeyes may have suffered a costly setback at heavyweight.

Returning All-American and No. 6 Bobby Telford suffered an apparent knee injury in his first-round win and had to be helped out of the arena after he hobbled off the mat.

The second round is set for 6:30 p.m. in Des Moines.

Three-time NCAA champion and No. 1 seed Kyle Dake of Cornell kept his composure in a low-scoring first-round match with Ohio State’s Mark Martin at 165 pounds.

The match was scoreless entering the final period before Dake escaped and followed with a leg shot for a takedown. Dake then rode Martin out to win 3-0.

Dake is seeking to become just the third wrestler to win four NCAA titles and the first to do it in four different weight classes. He has previously won NCAAs at 141, 149 and 157.

“It’s tough when guys don’t wrestle you,” Dake said. “It’s really frustrating. I’ll get over it. I felt good. The guy didn’t do anything. He kept backing out, but what can you do.”

Penn State’s David Taylor, the returning 165-pound champion and Hodge Trophy winner, recorded a first-round fall over North Carolina’s John Staudenmayer in the first period.

“I felt great out there,” Taylor said. “Bonus points are huge in this tournament and we need every point we can score. We just need to keep the momentum going.”

The NCAA is anticipating a Dake-Taylor finals showdown, with the 165 match moved to the last bout of Saturday night’s finals.

Penn State suffered first-round setbacks at 133 and 149. No. 12 seed Jordan Conaway fell to Vincent Dellafave of Rutgers 3-1 in overtime at 133 while No. 11 Andrew Alton fell to Missouri’s Drake Houdashelt 4-1 at 149.

Past NCAA champions Ed Ruth (184) and Quentin Wright (197) of Penn State also advanced.

Two-time NCAA champion Matt McDonough of Iowa (125) also reached the second round as did past NCAA champions Logan Stieber of Ohio State (133), Jordan Oliver of Oklahoma State (149), Steve Bosak of Cornell (184), Dustin Kilgore of Kent State (197) and Tony Nelson of Minnesota (285).

Iowa’s Nick Moore, the No. 10 seed, fell to Iowa State’s Michael Moreno in the first round at 165.

American’s Kevin Tao upset No. 3 Donald Vinson of Binghamton 3-2 in overtime at 149.

The 3 and 4 seeds both lost in the first round at 157.

Indiana’s Taylor Walsh blanked No. 3 seed Joey Napoli of Lehigh 6-0 while Missouri’s Kyle Bradley knocked off No. 4 James Green of Nebraska in a wild 6-5 match that went through two cycles of overtime.

Appalachian State’s Dominic Parisi knocked off No. 5 Jarrod Garnett 7-6 in the first round at 125.
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