Penn State Wrestling Pulls Out 23-10 Win Over Lehigh
A new winning streak began for Penn State wrestling on Friday night. Two weeks after their first dual loss in nearly five years, the Nittany Lions got back to their winning ways during a visit to in-state rival Lehigh, the teams’ 108th all-time meeting, winning 23-10.
True freshman Aaron Brooks burned his redshirt and did so in exciting fashion with a 10-5 win. He was one of seven Penn State wrestlers to win. Despite winning only three bouts, the Mountain Hawks managed to keep the dual close by allowing only one Nittany Lion to score bonus points.
How It Happened
The dual began at 125 lbs. with Brandon Meredith facing No. 11 Brandon Paetzell. The Mountain Hawks jumped out to an early 4-0 lead when Paetzell dominated Meredith in a 15-5 major decision. Paetzell controlled the bout from start to finish, taking Meredith down six times.
At 133 lbs., No. 4 Roman Bravo-Young got the Nittany Lions on the board with a 7-2 win over Jaret Lane. After a scoreless first two periods, including a second period in which Bravo-Young rode out Lane, the Penn State sophomore hammered out three third-period takedowns and secured a riding-time point to win by decision and trim Lehigh’s lead to 4-3.
No. 2 Nick Lee gave Penn State its first lead of the day when he beat Joe Lobeck with a 22-7 technical fall. Lee led Lobeck 4-1 after the first period before he went on a rampage over the course of the final two periods, scoring eight takedowns en route to the five-point win.
Lehigh pulled closer with a win at 149 lbs. in which Jimmy Hoffman topped Jarod Verkleeren in a tight 3-1 win. The two were tied 1-1 after three periods, before Hoffman won off a takedown in the closing seconds of sudden victory. His win cut Penn State’s lead to 8-7 and drew a standing ovation from the Stabler Arena. That was as close as the dual would be, as No. 6 Brady Berge ran the score up to 11-7 with a 5-3 decision over Josh Humphreys at 157 lbs. before the intermission. Berge pulled out the gritty win with a clutch third period after being tied with Humphreys 2-2 after two periods.
When wrestling resumed at 165 lbs., No. 1 Vincenzo Joseph faced Brian Meyer. Meyer kept it closed through two periods, as the wrestlers entered the third period tied 3-3, but Joseph managed to pull away to a 7-4 decision win, thanks to a third-period escape, takedown, and riding time point. Upset-minded Meyer posed a valiant effort against the two-time national champion, taking him down in the closing seconds of the second period to tie things up entering the final frame.
The 174-lb. bout provided the best matchup of the evening as No. 1 Mark Hall faced No. 2 Jordan Kutler. Hall set the tone early and emphatically with a quick takedown and a first-period rideout. Once grabbing the upper hand, Hall held on en route to a 7-2 decision in which he clocked more than two minutes of riding time. Hall’s win ran the team score up to 17-7 in favor of the Nittany Lions.
Following Hall’s win, Cael Sanderson burned true freshman Aaron Brooks’ redshirt for the 184-lb. bout against Chris Weiler. In his debut, Brooks didn’t appear to miss a beat from his four-time Maryland state champion high school career, despite spending last year at the Olympic Training Center and starting this season waiting in the wings.
Brooks rolled to a 10-5 win that extended Penn State’s lead to 20-7. Brooks was in the driver’s seat for most of the bout — even leading by as many as eight points in the bout. However, a late rally by Weiler prevented the true freshman from scoring any bonus points.
The 197-lb. bout presented a meeting of two top-20 wrestlers and another challenge for No. 20 Kyle Conel of Penn State, whose anticipated comeback has featured several roadblocks to start the season. Conel hung with No. 15 Jake Jakobsen for the entirety of the match, but ultimately fell 3-1. Conel escaped to tie the bout 1-1 in the third period, but a late scramble and takedown by Jakobsen clinched the win, which cut Penn State’s lead to 20-10 entering the final bout.
The dual ended with No. 1 Anthony Cassar facing national semi-finalist Jordan Wood, the No. 10 heavyweight in the country. Cassar and Wood hand-fought for the first three minutes before the Nittany Lion scored a takedown to end the first period. He led 3-0 entering the third period two more takedowns, an escape, and a riding time point en route to a 9-4 win that made the final score 23-10.
Penn State wrestling will return home to host Penn at 2 p.m. on Sunday at Rec Hall.
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