Weight Classes To Be Settled In Penn State Wrestling’s New-Look Lineup
The leaves have turned. Penn State football is fading fast. Everything seems extra spooky. Yep, wrestling season is on its way.
We’re still more than three weeks away from the first dual of the season when Penn State hosts Kent State on November 11. Even with four national champions and three more All-Americans returning, Cael Sanderson’s lineup will look relatively different than it has in the past, thanks to graduation, a bit of reshuffling, and a loaded recruiting class.
We broke down what to look for from the weight classes that have yet to be finalized as we get ready for another season of Penn State wrestling being lightyears ahead of almost every team it faces.
125 lbs. — Gavin Teasdale vs. Brody Teske
Gone are the days of liabilities at the lower weights — or at least one would hope. Penn State has two talented young options at 125 lbs. in Gavin Teasdale and Brody Teske. The two were a combined 337-3 in high school and won eight state titles.
Gavin Teasdale was 162-2 and won four PIAA titles at Jefferson-Morgan High School in Rices Landing. He meets his match in Brody Teske who was 172-1 with four Iowa state titles.
In March, FloWrestling projected Teasdale would start and Teske would redshirt, despite proposing Teasdale would be too big to wrestle at 125 lbs. The problem is there’s nowhere for either wrestler to go for now, with another stud true freshman at 133 lbs. and All-American Nick Lee at 141 lbs.
Sanderson truly can’t go wrong with either Teasale or Teske. Even if one struggles or goes down with an injury, Sanderson will have the benefit of depth at 125 lbs. to find the right fit and keep his team competitive.
This weight class depth seems reminiscent of Sanderson’s options at 197 lbs. last season. He rotated between wrestling Shakur Rasheed and Anthony Cassar during the conference schedule and ultimately stuck with Rasheed in the postseason. With two true freshmen, don’t expect a similar tactic from Sanderson, who will likely want to keep his options open for potential redshirt seasons.
133 lbs. — Roman Bravo-Young vs. the field
The third crown jewel of Sanderson’s top-ranked 2018 recruiting class, Roman Bravo-Young, has a bit more of a direct path to the center of the mat at Rec Hall on November 11. There doesn’t seem to be much competition for Bravo-Young at 133 lbs., a weight class made up of mostly other freshmen and no wrestlers with any varsity experience.
Bravo-Young enters Penn State as one of the most decorated wrestlers in Arizona state history. He enjoyed a perfect 182-0 career, winning four state titles and four Arizona State Championship Outstanding Wrestler honors.
133 lbs. is another weight class marked by inconsistency during the last two seasons, so Bravo-Young seems to be a welcome and well-timed addition to Penn State’s lineup for the foreseeable future.
149 lbs. — Brady Berge vs. Jarod Verkleeren
For the first time since 2015, Zain Retherford won’t be penciled in at 149 lbs. on Sanderson’s lineup card. The three-time national champion leaves a large bonus point-scoring hole in the middle of Penn State’s lineup, but a pair of redshirt freshmen reinforcements are on the way.
Brady Berge seemed to be the heir apparent to Retherford ever since he stepped foot on campus, but Jarod Verkleeren is a worthy challenger. Last winter at the Southern Scuffle, Verkleeren sparked a bit of buzz when he placed seventh as an unattached wrestler.
Both proved their worth in limited sample sizes last season. Berge was 4-1 during his redshirt year, while Verkleeren was 9-2. Like at 125 lbs., having a bounty of eligible wrestlers available will be big for Penn State, something it hasn’t always had in the past.
285 lbs. — Nick Nevills vs. Anthony Cassar
Anthony Cassar sliding up to 285 lbs. was one of the chain reactions of Bo Nickal’s big move from 184 lbs. to 197 lbs. I can’t see Nick Nevills losing his starting job when he enters the season ranked No. 2 in the country at his weight and has spent the last two season knocking on the door of the top heavyweights in the country.
However, given his track record for finding a way into the lineup and pushing his teammates to perform, you can never truly count out Anthony Cassar (especially if you’re Kollin Moore). Although I’m unsure how Cassar’s transition to heavyweight will go, his experience should make him one of the most qualified backups in the country in case of an injury to Nevills. But like I’ve been saying since he beat Jacob Kasper in the Keystone Classic Finals last season, this is Nick Nevills’ year.
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