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Penn State Wrestling Pulling Away After One Day At NCAA Championships

Penn State wrestling capped off the first day of the NCAA Championships with another impressive performance and plenty of falls. Although they actually lost a match this time (three to be exact), the Nittany Lions extended their lead and seem ready to run away with the tournament on day two.

Two rounds into the tournament, Penn State has 32.5 points and sits atop the leaderboard well-ahead of Ohio State (25.5) and Iowa (24) which appear to be in a two-horse race for second place. (Final scores will be updated at the end of the session.)

After an undefeated first round, Penn State went 6-3 on Thursday night to finish off a successful first day in Pittsburgh with a 15-3 record and seven falls. All nine qualifiers have a chance at medaling, with six wrestlers in the quarterfinals and one win away from All-American status.

How It Happened

No. 10 Roman Bravo-Young kicked things off for Penn State against No. 7 Austin DeSanto of Iowa in one of the most anticipated match-ups of the night and a rematch of the Big Ten Championships wrestlebacks.

DeSanto took Bravo-Young down quickly and held on to a 2-1 lead for the rest of the first period. In the closing seconds, Bravo-Young blocked a shot attempt by DeSanto by flipping over him, ending up on top of the Hawkeye. The crow erupted in cheers, but the takedown was waved off as coming after the buzzer.

In a scary course of events, DeSanto led 3-2 midway through the third period before Bravo-Young attempted a takedown that sent the two crashing into the scorers’ table. DeSanto hit the table first and bounced back up, but Bravo-Young stayed on the mat for a couple minutes before getting to his feet and returning to the center of the mat. Cael Sanderson challenged the refs’ call of no takedown after the scramble, but his request was unsuccessful. The two near takedowns proved to play an important factor in the bout’s outcome.

Once wrestling resumed, Bravo-Young got on the offensive but got caught in a body lock with DeSanto, who threw him to the mat in the final seconds to win 7-2. The highly controversial DeSanto, whose usual antics on the mat were on full display during stoppages, was booed out of PPG Paints Arena by a crowd that was decidedly pro-Penn State.

While Bravo-Young was caught up in a bit of drama at 133 lbs., No. 3 Nick Lee was at work one mat over. He registered his second fall of the day and clinched a spot in the quarterfinals by pinning Sa’Derian Perry of Old Dominion.

No. 12 Brady Berge dropped an 8-5 decision to No. 5 Matt Kolodzik of Princeton at 149 lbs. He’ll join Bravo-Young in the wrestlebacks on Friday morning. Berge’s loss was the Nittany Lions’ first at 149 lbs. at the NCAA Tournament in four years.

An uncharacteristically angry No. 1 Jason Nolf matched up with Rutgers’ John Van Brill, who many fans remember as the last person to beat the two-time national champion. Nolf fired off six takedowns and tallied six near-fall points to beat Van Brill 19-4 via technical fall.

No. 2 Vincenzo Joseph followed Nolf with a win of his own against No. 18 Connor Flynn of Missouri at 165 lbs. With the riding time point clinched, Joseph led 7-2 late in the third period and appeared to try to throw Flynn but ended up being taken down himself. The botched takedown attempt cost Joseph a major decision, and he came away with a 8-4 decision.

At 174 lbs. No. 1 Mark Hall and No. 16 Brandon Womack of Cornell wrestled on their feet for most of the first period before the Nittany Lion secured a takedown in the waning seconds to take a 2-0 lead. He extended it it 5-0 with an escape and a takedown before holding on for an 8-3 decision.

No. 2 Shakur Rasheed was the first major domino to fall for the Nittany Lions. He lost a late lead over No. 15 Chip Ness of UNC and suffered his first loss of the season. Down 5-2 during the last minute, Ness pieced together a clutch comeback by taking down Rasheed and scoring four near-fall points to win 8-5.

After Rasheed’s loss, No. 1 Bo Nickal got the Nittany Lions back on track with a first-period fall over No. 16 Josh Hokit of Fresno State, his second of the day. He now sits two falls behind Nolf’s 60 on the all-time record list.

No. 2 Anthony Cassar wrapped up a big first day at the NCAA Championships for the Nittany Lions. He led No. 15 Tate Orndorff for the entirety of the bout but scored a pair of last-minute takedowns to secure the major decision, his team’s ninth bonus point win of the day.

What’s Next

Six Nittany Lions remain alive in the championship bracket, while Bravo-Young, Berge, and Rasheed all face elimination and will all need to win three times tomorrow in order to finish as All-Americans.

No. 10 Roman Bravo Young vs. No. 9 Charles Tucker (Cornell)
No. 3 Nick Lee vs. No. 22 Max Murin (Iowa)
No. 12 Brady Berge vs. No. 27 Tejon Anthony (George Mason)
No. 1 Jason Nolf vs. No. 9 Christian Pagdilao (Arizona State)
No. 1 Vincenzo Joseph vs. No. 7 Isaiah White (Nebraska)
No. 1 Mark Hall vs. No. 8 Taylor Lujan (Northern Iowa)
No. 2 Shakur Rasheed vs. No. 17 Andrew McNally (Kent State)/No. 32 Bob Coleman (Oregon State)
No. 1 Bo Nickal vs. No. 8 Nathan Traxler (Stanford)
No. 2 Anthony Cassar vs. No. 7 Trent Hillger (Wisconsin)

Get ready for a full day of wrestling, folks. We’ll see you at 11 a.m.

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About the Author

Anthony Colucci

Anthony Colucci was once Onward State’s managing editor and preferred walk-on honors student who majored in psychology and public relations. Despite being from the make-believe land of Central Jersey, he was never a Rutgers fan. If you ever want to know how good Saquon Barkley's ball security is, ask Anthony what happened when he tried to force a fumble at the Mifflin Streak. If you want to hear the story or are bored and want to share prequel memes, follow @_anthonycolucci on Twitter or email him at [email protected]. All other requests and complaints should be directed to Onward State media contact emeritus Steve Connelly.

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