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Penn State Wrestling Sends Four To NCAA Championships Semifinals

Penn State posted a solid round of wrestling Friday afternoon at the NCAA Championships by sending four wrestlers to the semifinals.

The Nittany Lion grapplers weren’t as hot as yesterday, but they still went 4-3 in the quarterfinals with three wrestlers still alive in the consolation bracket. Roman Bravo-Young, Nick Lee, Carter Starocci, and Aaron Brooks all earned All-American honors with their quarterfinal victories. Brady Berge suffered an unfortunate injury early in his quarterfinal bout and could not continue in the match.

Penn State fell further behind in the team score as the Hawkeyes advanced five semifinalists. The Nittany Lions still sit at second with 57.5 points behind Iowa (73.5).

How It Happened

Session 3

No. 23 Robbie Howard kicked off day two for the Nittany Lions at 125 pounds against No. 24 Fabian Gutierrez of Chattanooga in round two of the consolations. The two tradec blows throughout the first two periods. Howard secured the first takedown, but Gutierrez got out quickly.

The true freshman looked to be in trouble after the two took turns reversing each other, but he managed to get two nearfall points during one exchange which proved to be the difference in his 9-7 decision win. Howard will wrestle in one more consolation bout in the session.

No. 2 Roman Bravo-Young started Penn State’s run of quarterfinalists at 133 pounds against No. 10 Louie Hayes of Virginia. Bravo-Young wouldn’t run away with it, but a takedown and an escape were all he needed to shut out Hayes. His riding time added another point and he won by a 4-0 decision. He’ll advance to the semifinals to face No. 3 Korbin Myers of Virginia Tech. He also secured All-American status for the third time in his career.

No. 2 Nick Lee was up next on the same mat as he squared off with No. 10 Zach Sherman of North Carolina at 141 pounds. Lee got off to a quick start, scoring two takedowns and getting a pair of nearfall points to lead 6-1 in the first period. He’d go on to use a couple more takedowns and over four minutes of riding time to secure the 11-3 major decision. He’ll advance to the semifinals in a rematch from the Big Ten tournament with No. 3 Sebastian Rivera of Rutgers. Lee’s win made him a four-time All-American.

At 157 pounds, Brady Berge took on No. 4 Jesse Dellavecchia of Rider in the quarterfinals. Unfortunately, Berge suffered a knee injury in the first period and was not able to continue in the match. The injury default put a huge damper on Penn State’s hopes of catching up to Iowa in the team race.

After winning his first consolation match earlier this morning, No. 23 Robbie Howard took on No. 15 Patrick McKee of Minnesota in round three on the consolations at 125 pounds. After being taken down, Howard was pinned by McKee in the first period. His loss would end his tournament, finishing with a 2-2 record.

Session 4

After about a two-hour break, No. 3 Carter Starocci kicked off the session for Penn State against No. 6 Andrew McNally of Kent State at 174 pounds. Starocci managed to get in on a takedown in the first period and led 2-0 heading into the second. He’d use a quick escape and another single-leg takedown to increase his lead to 5-0 leading into the final two minutes.

McNally would rally late with an escape and a takedown but it wasn’t enough as Starocci picked up the 6-3 decision. He’ll face No. 2 Demetrius Romero of Utah Valley in the semifinals tonight. Starocci’s win gave the freshman his first All-American honor.

No. 1 Aaron Brooks met a familiar foe in No. 8 Taylor Venz of Nebraska at 184 pounds. Brooks wasted no time getting his offense going, scoring a takedown early on in the first period. In the second period, Venz reversed Brooks to gain a 3-2 advantage, but Brooks quickly escaped and took him back down.

Brooks would go on to ride out Venz for the remainder of the period and led 5-3 with nearly two minutes of riding time after the period. Brooks continued to control the match and earned a 9-4 decision to advance to the semifinals. After earning his second straight All-American honor, Brooks will advance to face No. 4 Parker Keckeisen of Northern Iowa in the semis.

No. 15 Michael Beard attempted to keep his impressive tournament run going at 197 pounds against No. 26 Jake Woodley of Oklahoma. Beard found himself trailing 4-2 after giving up two takedowns in the first two periods. He couldn’t manage to get anything going on his feet and dropped an 8-3 decision to Woodley. He’ll fall to the consolation round later Friday.

At heavyweight, No. 9 Greg Kerkvliet had his hands full with No. 1 Gable Steveson of Minnesota. Kerkvliet threw all he could at Steveson but was no match for his raw power. He’d manage to get one takedown in the bout but dropped a 9-4 decision. He’ll get bounced to the consolation round later tonight.

What’s Next?

The semifinals of the NCAA Championships will get underway in St. Louis at 8 p.m. Friday night. Fans can catch up on the action on ESPN’s family of channels.

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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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