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Penn State Wrestling Dominates Post-Intermission Bouts To Remain Undefeated

Penn State wrestling took down yet another Big Ten opponent Sunday with a 27-11 win over No. 14 Rutgers. Following a consistent theme this season, the Nittany Lions’ domination came through a strong second-half performance from the bottom of the lineup.

Penn State has had its fair share of illnesses, protocol withdraws, and absences within its lineup, which has caused disconnection at the top. Drew Hildebrandt, Roman Bravo-Young, and Nick Lee dazzle the mat from the start, but it’s consistency at end of the duals that’s securing Nittany Lion victories lately.

“I mean, it seems like we’ve been down on the break a lot,” said head coach Cael Sanderson. “Guys out of the lineup and stuff, but it’s just something we got to do a little bit of a better job.”

At intermission Sunday, the Nittany Lions were down 11-6, and morale was low in Rec Hall. However, the energy in the room did a 180 when Brady Berge returned to the mat after spending nearly a year in retirement. 

Adding Berge back into the lineup only strengthens this already-deep Nittany Lion roster, especially in the 165-pound weight class.

“He’s been clutching big moments, and things haven’t really gone his way,” said Sanderson. “And when he’s gotten knocked down, he’s gotten back up.”

Berge’s win electrified the crowd and the Nittany Lions. More importantly, Scarlet Knights did not score a single team point for the remainder of the duel. 

In four of Penn State’s last 11 duals, it was faced with a deficit at intermission. Rutgers, Penn, Cornell, and Indiana were all applying the pressure and hoping they would be the ones to make the top-ranked team crack, but each was unsuccessful.

This achievement has been helped by none other than No. 1 Carter Starocci, No. 1 Aaron Brooks, and No. 2 Max Dean. Each wrestler is currently undefeated with a combined 30-0 record.

Starrocci and Brooks have been a huge presence within the Nittany Lion program and Dean has been an exceptional addition this season. 

Sanderson seems to have a soft spot for Dean, noting that the two-time All-American Cornell transfer has been “a great addition.”

“He’s been very consistent in practice and competition,” Sanderson said. “You know, it’s all you really want.”

Moving forward, a healthy and versatile Penn State team should continue to see an ample success with the ever-increasing depth on its roster. Despite throwing out nine different lineups across 11 duals, Penn State’s always finding guys to step up in its biggest moments.

“It’s all part of the process…just trying to get along better as we move along,” Sanderson said. “Every match is big, but we’re excited to get on the road here and kind of test ourselves out a bit as we push into the Big Ten schedule.”

The 11-0. Nittany Lions now face a stretch of three away duals before they return to the Bryce Jordan Center against Ohio State on February 4. Next up are two road trips to Michigan and Michigan State on January 21 and 23, respectively.

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About the Author

Mara McKeon

Mara is a sophomore staff writer majoring in English and public relations. She loves all things sports and anything that has peanut butter. You can usually find her obsessing over country music and wondering when Luke Combs will come back to the BJC. Feel free to reach her on Twitter @MckeonMara, and for more formal affairs, her email is [email protected]

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