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Penn State Wrestling Crowns Two Big Ten Champions, Places Second

Penn State wrestling wrapped up the Big Ten Championships Sunday afternoon by crowning two champions for the second straight year.

Roman Bravo-Young and Aaron Brooks each won titles, while Nick Lee and Carter Starocci took second place at their respective weight classes. Starocci was also named as the 2021 Big Ten Freshman of the Year following his impressive tournament run.

The Nittany Lions finished second in the team score with 124 total points behind the Hawkeyes with 159.5. It appeared that they might have been within striking distance coming into today’s rounds, but Iowa pulled away with a 4-2 record in the finals.

Robbie Howard, Brady Berge, and Michael Beard all qualified for the national tournament with sixth-place finishes. Greg Kerkvliet and Joe Lee also advanced to nationals with fourth and eighth-place finishes, respectfully.

How It Happened

No. 11 Robbie Howard got the placement rounds started for Penn State at 125 pounds as he faced No. 8 Michael DeAugustino of Northwestern for fifth place. Howard got out to a rough start, giving up a takedown in the first period and an escape point in the second to trail 3-0. He had a late rally, but it wasn’t enough as he could only manage one takedown. Howard’s 3-2 loss gave him a sixth-place finish.

Folks had their popcorn ready for the 133-pound final with No. 1 Roman Bravo-Young facing No. 2 Austin DeSanto of Iowa. Bravo-Young got the scoring going in the first period with a beautiful takedown. DeSanto quickly got up and the score was 2-1 after the first three minutes. The second period would play out exactly the same with DeSanto getting an escape and Bravo-Young getting another takedown.

Bravo-Young got an escape to start the third period, which was all he would need as he danced around DeSanto for the final few minutes, refusing to be taken down. The decision win gave Bravo-Young his first Big Ten Championship and a 3-2 advantage in the all-time series between the two.

In perhaps the deepest weight class in the tournament, No. 2 Nick Lee matched up with No. 1 Jaydin Eierman of Iowa in the 141-pound finals.

The two wasted no time feeling each other out. Lee got in on a nice takedown early but Eierman quickly got up and scored a takedown of his own. Eierman would take a 3-2 lead into the second period with nearly two minutes of riding time. Eierman chose down to start the second period and got a quick escape but was also called for a stalling warning. The score was 4-2 heading into the third.

The final period is where things started to heat up. Lee chose neutral and shot in on a single leg to get the takedown. He would let him up and force another stalling call to tie the score at 5-5 but couldn’t manage to score the match-winning takedown as Eierman’s riding time bonus point gave him a 6-5 win. Lee’s loss capped off an impressive tournament, and he should have a top-three seed at the NCAA Tournament.

No. 3 Carter Starocci met No. 1 Michael Kemerer of Iowa in the finals at 174 pounds. Starocci put forward his best effort but ultimately couldn’t get past the veteran Kemerer. Starocci found himself down 3-1 midway through the second period, and it was all Kemerer from there. He scored a takedown and a pair of back points as time was running out in the second period to increase his lead to 7-1. Starocci would escape in the third period but couldn’t break through Kemerer’s tough defense, losing 7-2.

No. 1 Aaron Brooks squared off against No. 6 Taylor Venz of Nebraska in the 184-pound finals. Brooks gave up an early takedown but quickly bounced back, escaping and scoring a takedown of his own to lead 3-2 after the first period with over a minute of riding time.

It was all Brooks from there, as he scored two more takedowns and a reversal with over three minutes of riding time. Brooks’ 10-5 decision win gave him his second straight Big Ten Championship. He will likely grab the top seed in St. Louis for the National Championships.

In the fifth-place bout at 197 pounds, No. 7 Michael Beard met No. 5 Lucas Davison of Northwestern. Beard got in on a shot early and dumped Davison on his back, but he managed to get out quick enough to avoid the takedown. Davison hit his head during the exchange but cleared concussion protocol to stay in the match. With the match tied 4-4 midway through the third period, Beard gave up a takedown and failed to escape, losing in a 6-4 decision.

No. 7 Greg Kerkvliet wrapped up the tournament for Penn State as he faced No. 3 Tony Cassioppi of Iowa. Cassioppi had a visible size advantage in the matchup which would be the determining factor in the bout. Kerkvliet managed to get in on some shots but couldn’t get through Cassioppi’s defense. He would fall 9-0 to finish in fourth place.

No. 5 Brady Berge suffered a medical forfeit in his fifth-place bout to end his tournament and finish in sixth place.

What’s Next?

Penn State will send nine wrestlers to the NCAA Championships in St. Louis, Missouri. The tournament will stretch from March 18 to 20.

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About the Author

Max Tolson

Max is a senior majoring in print journalism. He hails from the small town of Millsboro, DE and loves to watch the Eagles and Penn State wrestling. Follow him on twitter @TolsonMax or send emails to [email protected] Go Birds!

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