MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

OU

March 21, 2013

OSU sitting pretty after first day of national tournament; OU ninth

DES MOINES, Iowa – Cornell’s Kyle Dake joked that he wasn’t even aware of rival David Taylor’s results.

No one believed him.

Dake, the three-time NCAA champion, remained on course for a final showdown with Taylor, the 2012 Hodge Trophy winner, after the opening matches Thursday in the NCAA wrestling championships.

“Did he win his first match?” Dake joked. “Mainly focused on who I have, what the next step is.”

But it’s Taylor and the two-time defending champion Penn State Nittany Lions with the edge heading into the quarterfinals.

The Nittany Lions went 6 for 6 in the second round and lead the meet with 32.5 points. Oklahoma State was second with 29 points and seven quarterfinalists.

Minnesota was third with 24, followed by Iowa with 22.

“It was a good day. We had to kind of fight out a couple tough matches at some weights that we didn’t expect, but that’s what you have to do in this tournament,” coach John Smith said. “Not everything goes right, and for us, we were kind of gritty in some of those tougher matches. I thought we wrestled better tonight. As you advance, you know you’re wrestling tougher people. I like what I saw out of my three guys (in the wrestlebacks).”

Dake’s bid for to become the third wrestler with four NCAA titles – and the first in four weight classes – got off to a sluggish start.

Ohio State’s Mark Martin, who entered the tournament at 17-16, kept it 0-0 through two periods. But Dake opened the final frame with an escape and scored a takedown for a 3-0 win.

Dake finished with a 10-0 win over Indiana’s Ryan Leblanc.

“I feel pretty good conditioning wise. I feel healthy,” Dake said. “Guys are having really game plans when they wrestle me. It makes it tough but, a win is a win.”

But it looks as though nobody might catch OSU heavyweight Alan Gelogaev anyway. He pinned both of his first two opponents – in just a total of 52 seconds.

The championships continue today with the quarter and semifinals, setting up a Saturday night finals for all 10 weight classes.

“Thursday is just kind of for show when it comes to the team points because the big points are scored tomorrow,” Penn State coach Cael Sanderson said. “There are some big matches (Friday) that will make a difference so we need to be ready for them.”

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