Returning NCAA champion Chris Perry of Oklahoma State earns a first-round win at the NCAA Championships on Thursday. John Sachs photo.
OKLAHOMA CITY – Top-ranked Penn State took charge right away, winning 9 of 10 matches to gain the early lead at the NCAA Wrestling Championships.
The Nittany Lions, seeking their fourth straight national title, lead the way with 16.5 points after the first of six sessions in the three-day event.
Two-time NCAA champion Ed Ruth (184) pounds and NCAA champion David Taylor (165) won by fall for Penn State on Thursday before 15,375 fans at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Third-ranked Oklahoma State is in second with 13.5 points after going 8-2 in the opening session. Returning NCAA champion Chris Perry earned an 8-0 major decision win over Wisconsin’s Scott Liegel at 174.
No. 2 Minnesota and No. 11 Edinboro are tied for third with 11 points. No. 7 Nebraska is fifth with 9.5 points. Minnesota won 8 of 9 first-round bouts, Edinboro and Nebraska each went 5-2.
Two-time NCAA champions Logan Stieber of Ohio State (141) and Tony Nelson of Minnesota (285) both earned first-round victories. Stieber, a junior, is trying to stay on course to become a rare four-time champion. Nelson is trying to become Minnesota’s first three-time NCAA champion.
Fourth-ranked Iowa saw a pair of No. 5 seeds fall in the opening round. The Hawkeyes went 7-3 in the first session and are in ninth with 8.5 points.
2013 NCAA champion Derek St. John (157) and NCAA runner-up Tony Ramos (133) were among the Hawkeyes to advance.
“We left some points out there,” Iowa coach Tom Brands. “We have to be more ready to go next round. Takedowns were hard to come by, and we need to be popping."
Unseeded Josh Veltre of Bloomsburg upset No. 5 Nick Moore of the Iowa 15-7 in the first round at 165. Veltre also beat Moore at the 2013 NCAAs in a wrestleback.
Unseeded Victor Avery then downed No. 5 Ethen Lofthouse of Iowa 5-3 in the first round at 184.
Matthew Frisch of the Citadel earned the day’s first big upset when he knocked off No. 2 seed Nick Dardanes of Minnesota 8-5 at 149. Frisch led 3-2 in the third period before scoring a takedown and cradling Dardanes for a three-point near fall to prevail.
The second round is set for 6 p.m. Thursday in Oklahoma City.
Team scoring (Top 10)
Penn State 16.5, Oklahoma State 13.5, Edinboro 11, Minnesota 11, Nebraska 9.5, Cornell 9, Iowa State 9, Oregon State 9, Iowa 8.5, Wisconsin 8.5