Penn State Wrestling Expected To Return To Full Strength Against Michigan
Even while competing shorthanded this weekend, Penn State wrestling flexed its muscles and looked just about as dominant as ever. The Nittany Lions outscored Purdue and Indiana 65-19 during their road trip to the Hoosier State and seemed to have no problem running away with duals, even after a couple slow starts.
As Cael Sanderson’s team prepares to enter the toughest stretch of its season, it’ll need all hands on deck against No. 5 Michigan this weekend and No. 2 Ohio State next weekend. Luckily for the tenth-year head coach, Sanderson expects to have a healthy lineup when his team takes the mat against the Wolverines and Buckeyes.
Sanderson anticipates No. 11 Brady Berge and No. 3 Shakur Rasheed will both return to the starting lineup at 149 lbs. and 184 lbs., respectively, this weekend.
Rasheed has missed the last three duals with an undisclosed injury. In his absence, Penn State is 0-3 at 184 lbs.
Berge, who entered the season in competition with Jared Verkleeren for the starting job at 149 lbs., has created some separation in the race, but missed both duals last weekend in favor of Verkleeren. Sanderson said Berge sat out primarily so he could rest. In Berge’s place, Verkleeren went 2-0 with a pair of decisions.
Sanderson said there’s “nothing wrong with [Berge] at all,” so he’ll likely be back in the lineup against Michigan. The weekend off might be just what Berge needed before he enters the home stretch of his first season of eligibility. He seemed to have hit a bit of a midseason slump earlier this month, losing to unranked Cole Martin of Wisconsin and narrowly beating unranked Jordan Shearer of Nebraska.
Both Rasheed and Berge will get to ease back into the lineup against unranked Michigan wresters before they each face a top-five opponent at Ohio State. Rasheed will draw No. 1 Myles Martin, and Berge will draw No. 2 Micah Jordan. The two are a combined 27-1 this season.
No. 15 Roman Bravo-Young injured his knee attempting an acrobatic flip against Purdue Friday and sat out the Sunday dual against Indiana. Sanderson seemed optimistic about the freshman’s return this weekend but said it’ll likely be a game-time decision. He refuted reports that Bravo-Young could miss as many as four weeks.
If he does wrestle, Bravo-Young will have an even tougher slate of opponents than Rasheed and Berge. He’d face No. 1 Stevan Micic this weekend and No. 6 Luke Pletcher next weekend.
“He’s really responded well and is doing pretty darn good, so there’s a good chance he’ll be ready to roll Friday,” Sanderson said. “We want him in the lineup. The more matches he gets, the more experience the better. Micic, who’s very good, is a guy we’d like him to get a feel for.”
However, in true Sanderson form, he refused to commit one way or the other.
“He needs to be ready to go, wrestle well, and defend himself,” he said. “We aren’t going to throw someone out there who isn’t ready to go.”
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“I believe we can do it. I believe we have the depth. Thirteen women in there got to believe it.”
“I’m really glad I did it, and I’m really glad I listened to my sister for once.”
Hicks has scored double-digit points in the past seven games.