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No. 1 Penn State Wrestling Defeats No. 14 Rutgers 27-11

No. 1 Penn State wrestling (11-0, 3-0 Big Ten) remained undefeated after its 27-11 victory over Rutgers (12-2, 2-2 Big Ten) Sunday evening at Rec Hall.

In a dual that consisted of many overtime periods, the Nittany Lions were able to pull away after halftime thanks to strong performances from Aaron Brooks, Carter Starocci, and Brady Berge, among others.

How It Happened

At 125 pounds, senior and No. 9 Drew Hildebrandt started the dual when he matched up against No. 31 Dylan Shawver. The first points of the bout were awarded to Shawver when he was awarded a takedown, but Hildebrandt managed to obtain a point following an escape ending the first period 2-1.

Starting neutral in the third all tied up, Hildebrandt created many opportunities to take the lead, but it wasn’t until the very end that he was awarded a takedown near the edge of the mat. There was an official review for a time check, but it worked out as the call stood and Hildebrandt won. Hildebrandt’s win resulted in an early 3-0 lead.

No. 1 Roman Bravo-Young then went toe to toe with Scarlet Knights’ freshman No. 20 Joseph Olivieri. Bravo-Young didn’t take long to grab a takedown but kept it rolling as he was awarded two more takedowns in the first period, accumulating 1:31 in riding time and a 6-2 lead. Bravo-Young picked up another two in the second period on a takedown extending his lead 8-3. Finally, after accumulating 2:01 in riding time in addition to one final takedown, Bravo-Young took the victory 11-5, giving Penn State the 6-0 lead in the dual.

Following the 2-0 start, the 141-pound bout featured junior Brandon Meredith for Penn State as No. 1 Nick Lee was not in the lineup due to protocols. Rutgers’ No. 3 Sebastian Rivera started things off quickly, tacking on a takedown in the first minute, but Meredith did grab a point following an escape. After picking up another takedown, Rivera also picked up eight near-fall points extending his 12-1 lead. Shortly into the second period, Rivera grabbed five more points and a victory on a technical fall. Penn State still led the dual score 6-5.

Sophomore and No. 19 Beau Bartlett had a tough matchup at 149 pounds as he took on a closely ranked No. 18 Michael VanBrill. Bartlett struck first, picking up a takedown with nearly 1:15 remaining in the first period. Still, VanBrill did manage to grab two escapes in the period following the takedown and a stoppage of the match. The two wrestlers went into the second period tied 2-2.

VanBrill obtained another point from an early second-period escape taking his first lead of the bout. The one escape point for Van Brill would be the only point scored in the second as he led 3-2 heading into the third period. Bartlett tied the score on an escape after starting on the bottom in the third. Following a review of a potential takedown and after only one point was scored in both the second and third periods, this bout was a 3-3 tie that headed into overtime. Bartlett nearly had a takedown that was not awarded, and the overtime period was scoreless, so this bout headed into an additional two 30-second overtimes.

After an extended overtime period, riding time handed VanBrill the 4-3 win, and Rutgers led 8-6.

Junior Tony Negron and Robert Kanniard faced off in the 157-pound bout. Negron took an early lead following a takedown and accumulated 1:36 in riding time, giving him a 4-1 lead into the start of the second period. Eventually, a two-minute sudden victory overtime was necessary to figure out this bout. Kanniard obtained a takedown giving him the 6-4 victory over Negron. Rutgers led the dual 11-6 into the intermission.

Out of the break and into the 165-pound match, senior Brady Berge wanted to refresh the Rec Hall crowd in his first match back in Happy Valley as he went up against Andrew Clark. The second period gave Clark the bout’s first point following an escape, but Berge grabbed a takedown before the end of the second period giving him the 2-1 lead. As for the third period, Berge started on the bottom but managed to escape with nearly 45 seconds left in the bout extending his lead 3-1. Berge was also awarded a takedown with only seconds left, giving him the 5-1 victory by decision. Penn State now trailed 11-9 following Berge’s success in his Rec Hall return.

In the 174-pound bout, sophomore and No. 1 Carter Starocci looked to take the lead for Penn State taking on Connor O’Neill. Starocci picked up his first takedown and then dominated his way to a 12-2 lead following near fall points and 2:21 in riding time. Starocci’s fantastic performance continued into the second period as he was able to grab a crucial technical fall victory at the 4:25 mark. Penn State reclaimed its lead in the dual 14-11.

Junior and No. 1 Aaron Brooks had a difficult opponent in No. 5 John Poznanski at 184 pounds. With under ten seconds left in the first period, Brooks had a takedown that gave him a 2-0 lead. Brooks was awarded another two within the first 30 seconds of the second period on a takedown. Dominantly, Brooks was able to get the 10-2 major victory after being awarded 2:31 in riding time. Brooks extended the Nittany Lions’ lead 18-11.

Junior and No. 2 Max Dean also had a top-ten opponent in No. 7 Greg Bulsak in the 197-pound matchup. Dean and Bulsak found success in the first period, including a clean Dean takedown to kick the bout off. Bulsak led 4-3 heading into the second period. Bulsak had an early takedown in the second period extending his lead 6-5, but Dean was able to grab a takedown just before the horn sounded, making this a tight-knit 6-5 bout into the third. Dean grabbed an escape in the third right off the bat, knotting things up at six apiece. Dean grabbed a takedown in the final minute before riding out Bulsak to top off a 9-6 victory by decision with 1:07 in riding time. Dean’s crucial victory gave Penn State a 21-11 lead.

In the 285-pound matchup, No. 4 Greg Kerkvliet faced off against Alex Esposito. Kerkvliet didn’t take long to come away with a fall as the match was over at the 1:45 mark. Kerkvliet’s victory gave the Nittany Lions a 27-11 win in today’s dual.

What’s Next?

The Nittany Lions will be back in action at 6 p.m. on Friday, January 21 when they travel to Ann Arbor, Mich. to take on the Wolverines.

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About the Author

Gabriel Herman

Gabriel Herman is a junior journalism major at Penn State from Minneapolis, MN. He writes about several sports-related topics. If you want to discuss great moments in Minnesota Twins history, you can reach him at [email protected]

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