Penn State won the national team title for the third year in a row.
Penn State wrapped up the team crown earlier in the evening, as Wright upset top-seeded Dustin Kilgore of Kent State 8-6 at 197 pounds to give the Nittany Lions an insurmountable lead over Oklahoma State.
Wright sealed the victory with a pair of impressive late takedowns of Kilgore, an NCAA champion in 2011 who had won 62 straight matches.
“I knew one of us had to take it upon our shoulders to get it and I thought ‘Why not me? Let’s go out there. Let’s win this,” Wright said.
Penn State began the day with a virtual lock on the title — and the Cowboys nearly stole the crown away. Penn State held a 20.5-point lead over Oklahoma State to start Saturday’s competition. The Nittany Lions also had five wrestlers in the finals, three more than Oklahoma State. But Penn State didn’t have anyone who earned spots in Saturday morning‘s wrestleback session. That’s where the Cowboys made up 17.5 points to cut the deficit to 114.5-111.5. Chris Perry then gave Oklahoma State a 1-point lead with a win over Penn State’s Matt Brown in the first title match, the 174-pound finals.
The Cowboys only held the lead for about 15 minutes, though. They never got it back.
Ruth won his second straight national title with a 12-4 win over Robert Hamlin of Lehigh. Ruth finished with a takedown to clinch a major decision, giving the Nittany Lions a crucial extra team point. “I looked over at the coaches and (they) were just saying ‘Cut him. Cut him.’ I was like, ‘Oh wow, he must be going for a major then,'” Ruth said.
There’s since been a lot of talk about modernizing a sport rooted in antiquity — and upgraded wrestler introductions for the finals were a big hit to the sellout crowd. The athletes burst through puffs of smoke amid dimmed lights and blaring heavy metal music, their names displayed with colorful lighting. The end of every finals match was marked by four plumes of smoke emanating from each corner of the stage.