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Brady Berge Impresses In Return To Penn State Wrestling

Just a week and a half after announcing his return to Penn State wrestling, Brady Berge took the mat at Rec Hall on Sunday and did what he does best — win.

Wrestling at 165 pounds against the No. 14 Scarlet Knights, Berge looked cool, calm, and collected in his first action in nearly a year. He used a late takedown in the second period, plus another with 22 seconds remaining in the bout, to defeat Rutgers’ Andrew Clark 5-1.

For most, sliding into the lineup of the top wrestling program in the country would be no easy task. However, some of Penn State’s wrestlers believe Berge’s return was far more significant than a run-of-the-mill lineup change.

“As I tell Berge, ‘This is God’s plan,'” top-ranked 184-pounder Aaron Brooks told the Penn State Sports Network. “We know how great of a wrestler he is. The way his career ended initially with unfortunate injuries, it’s God’s will he’s able to go out there and reach for what he’s been going for this whole time. For Berge, it’s a sign to rewrite the things that happened to him.”

Berge’s return to Penn State was a surprise for some. He announced his retirement from competition last year after sustaining an NCAA Championships-ending injury, although he’s historically struggled with concussions and knee issues.

While away from the Nittany Lions, Berge took up an assistant coaching gig at South Dakota State, where he plans to return once his Penn State career runs its course. Getting to see the sport from the other side of the mat seems to have provided Berge with a new perspective as he returns to competition.

“It’s good that he got time away,” said 174-pound starter Carter Starocci. “He was coaching, which is a different view of the sport because you have to explain it, and you really can’t control anything out there.”

With one great performance under his belt already, Berge figures to become a fixture in Penn State’s consistently changing lineup, which has already rolled out nine unique iterations across 11 duals this season. The two-time NCAA qualifier previously wrestled at 157 pounds, but head coach Cael Sanderson says he’ll compete at 165 for now.

“Obviously, [he’s] a very talented wrestler, and he’s been a gamer for us. He’s been clutch in big moments,” Sanderson said. “Things haven’t really gone his way, but he’s pushed through those things. When he’s gotten knocked down, he’s gotten back up.”

Sanderson also noted that he was particularly proud of Berge for both becoming a coach and returning to Penn State’s program. The latter is particularly significant, though. After all, chances to wrestle for a program like the Nittany Lions’ come only so often.

“He can coach for the next 50 years if he wants, but you only have a short window to compete,” Sanderson said. “We’re hopeful that things can go his way. Obviously, that’s up to him.”

Penn State’s undefeated season continues this weekend with road trips to Michigan and Michigan State on January 21 and 23, respectively. The 11-0 Nittany Lions will hit the mat against the Wolverines at 6 p.m. on the Big Ten Network.

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

Matt proudly served as Onward State’s managing editor for two years until graduating from Penn State with distinction in May 2022. Now, he’s off in the real world doing real things. Send him an email ([email protected]) or follow him on Twitter (@mattdisanto_) to stay in touch.

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