Arizona State highlights finals

March, 20, 2011

PHILADELPHIA -- It was a night to remember for Penn State, despite losing two of three finals, and several individuals at the NCAA Division I national wrestling championships.

The Nittany Lions wrapped up the team title Saturday morning in the medal round, but truly got to celebrate their first national championship since 1953 to the large home crowd's standing ovation.

Dreams became a reality at 125 pounds for Arizona State's Anthony Robles. The Sun Devils senior, who was born with only one leg, used two near fall tilts in the first period to down defending champion Matt McDonough of Iowa, 7-1.

As the final whistle blew, Robles buried his head in the mat and then looked up to the sky with a smile.

"It was huge. I had a lot of butterflies going out there," said Robles. "I've dreamt about stepping on that stage a dozen times, and this whole year I've just been preparing for that moment."

The performance helped him earn Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament.

Posting the upset of the night that stunned the crowd was at 157 pounds, where Bubba Jenkins cradled Penn State's undefeated freshman, David Taylor, and pinned him to set off a celebration from the Sun Devils fans.

More fireworks showed up at 197 pounds when Kent State's Dustin Kilgore caught Clayton Foster of Oklahoma State for a fall after trailing 5-1. He became the first national champion for Kent State.

"As soon as I saw him get tired I knew right then I had to push myself twice as hard, harder than ever before, because I wanted it and I got it," said Kilgore.

At 133 pounds, Oklahoma State's Jordan Oliver polished off a perfect season by dominating Boise State's Andrew Hochstrasser, 8-4. The slick Cowboy used a quick takedown and near fall to pace himself to the win.

Cornell's Kyle Dake became a two-time champion as a sophomore with a dominating 8-1 over Penn State's Frank Molinaro at 149 pounds. The Big Red grappler is halfway to becoming just the third wrestler in Division I history to win four titles.

Two warrior-like efforts were posted by Michigan's Kellen Russell (141 pounds) and Iowa State's Jon Reader (174 pounds).

After twisting his ankle, the unbeaten Russell corralled a takedown and held on to defeat Cal Poly's Boris Novachkov.

Reader was bloodied with a deep cut on the right side of his head and had to be bandaged several times in his bout with Nick Amuchastegui of Stanford. The Cyclones senior was relentless, taking the Cardinal wrestler down and notching a total of four near fall points. With a primal scream, Reader jumped into the arms of head coach Kevin Jackson after winning his first title.

In one of the most dominant performances in tournament history, Nebraska's Jordan Burroughs became the school's first two-time champion. The unbeaten senior plowed his way to an 11-3 major decision over Oklahoma's Tyler Caldwell. Burroughs recorded two technical falls and two major decisions in winning the title.

The home-state crowd finally got something else to cheer for at 184 pounds, when Quentin Wright completed his remarkable run in the tournament with a win over Robert Hamlin of Lehigh, 5-2.

Wright entered the championships as a No. 9 seed but showed heart and control throughout the endeavor.

Wrapping up the 2011 championships was Lehigh's Zach Rey. The top-ranked heavyweight scored a 2-1 decision over American's Ryan Flores after riding him for 1:33.

With the 2011 championships in the book, all eyes turn toward St. Louis for the 2012 tournament.

Jason McDonnell is covering the NCAA wrestling championships for and ESPN Mobile. Follow along on your mobile device here.



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