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Penn State Wrestling Crowns Two More All-Americans, Sends Four To NCAA Championship Finals

Penn State wrestling was on fire Friday night at the NCAA Championships in St. Louis. Cael Sanderson’s group sent all four semifinalists to the finals, while two consolation wrestlers earned All-American status.

Roman Bravo-Young, Nick Lee, Carter Starocci, and Aaron Brooks will all have a chance to sit atop the podium in St. Louis if they can pick up victories on Saturday night. Michael Beard and Greg Kerkvliet also were crowned All-Americans and will wrestle for seventh place in Saturday morning’s medal round.

The Nittany Lions climbed back in the team score with an impressive round, going 6-2 in the session. They currently still sit at second behind Iowa (109) with 94.5 points

How It Happened

No. 2 Roman Bravo-Young was the first Nittany Lion to wrestle in the semifinals as he took on No. 3 Korbin Myers of Virginia Tech at 133 pounds. Bravo-Young opened up his offense early, getting in on a shot and securing the takedown. Myers would quickly get out and Bravo-Young led 2-1 after the first. In the second period, Myers earned another escape point and tied the match at 2-2.

Bravo-Young decided to choose neutral in the third period rather than the bottom position, and boy did it pay off. He’d use his lightning speed to dive into a low single leg and secure the match-winning takedown. After riding Myers out for nearly the entire rest of the period, Bravo-Young picked up the 5-3 decision with riding time. He’ll make his first NCAA finals appearance where he’ll take on No. 1 Daton Fix of Oklahoma State.

No. 2 Nick Lee was next up on the same mat at 141 pounds, as he faced No. 3 Sebastian Rivera in a rematch of the Big Ten semifinals. Lee fired off three shots within the first thirty seconds of the match, but Rivera fought them off nicely. Rivera would eventually get in on a shot and score the first takedown of the match, leading 2-0 after the first.

Lee started the second period with an escape and forced a stalling violation on Rivera, which tied the match at 2-2. He’d then get back on his offense and took down Rivera with a single leg to gain a 4-2 advantage heading into the final period. Lee came up big in the third, getting another takedown along with two near fall points and riding time to get the 9-3 decision. He’ll face top-seeded Jaydin Eierman of Iowa for the title in a rematch of the Big Ten finals.

Penn State’s next semifinalist was at 174 pounds, as No. 3 Carter Starocci faced off against No. 2 Demetrius Romero of Utah Valley. The two would spend the first period feeling each other out as neither one could grab a takedown. Starocci would escape in the second period to gain a 1-0 advantage heading into the third period. That lone point is all he would need as he rode out Romero for the entire period.

Starocci’s 2-0 win with riding time advances him to the championship bout, where he’ll try to avenge a Big Ten finals loss to No. 1 Michael Kemerer of Iowa.

Aaron Brooks kept Penn State perfect in the semifinals with a decision win over No. 4 Parker Keckeisen of Northern Iowa at 184 pounds. The undefeated Keckeisen threw everything he could at Brooks, but he was no match for the Nittany Lion’s attacks. Brooks used two takedowns along with an escape and riding time to win 6-4. He’ll take on No. 2 Trent Hidlay of NC State in the finals.

In the consolations at 197 pounds, No. 15 Michael Beard squared off with No. 13 Tanner Sloan of South Dakota State. Beard got to work right away, getting the first takedown and adding four back points to put his lead at 6-0 after the first period. He would continue to dominate on top, and added one more takedown to win by major decision 9-1 in the blood round. He earned All-American status and would move on in the consolation rounds.

No. 9 Greg Kerkvliet gave Penn State its sixth All-American with a win at heavyweight against No. 29 Austin Harris of Oklahoma State. He dominated the match with six takedowns on his way to to a 13-5 major decision. He’d continue on in the consolation bracket.

Beard and Kerkvliet both would lose in the next round of the consolations at 197 pounds and heavyweight, respectively. Beard fell 5-0 to No. 7 Rocky Elam of Missouri and Kerkvliet dropped a tough 14-8 decision to No. 4 Cohlton Schultz of Arizona. They’ll both wrestle for seventh place at Saturday morning’s medal round.

What’s Next?

The medal rounds of the NCAA Championships will kick off at 11 a.m. Saturday, while the finals will start at 7 p.m. Folks can catch that action on ESPN and ESPN 2.

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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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