Penn State Wrestling Locks In Seven Semifinalists At Big Ten Championships

The Big Ten Championships have arrived, and No. 1 Penn State wrestling started the postseason with high aspirations at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Neb. Saturday.

The Nittany Lions entered the day with four top seeds in their respective weight classes.

The first session’s byes for Penn State included 125-pound No. 2 Drew Hildebrandt, 133-pound No. 1 Roman Bravo-Young, 141-pound No. 1 Nick Lee, 174-pound No. 1 Carter Starocci, 184-pound No. 1 Aaron Brooks, 197-pound No. 2 Max Dean.

How It Happened

First Round

The first bout for the Nittany Lions was No. 7 Beau Bartlett against No. 10 Michael Blockhus of Minnesota. Early in the third, Bartlett grabbed an escape and then right after got in on a nice single leg and drove in two more points from a takedown, taking a 3-1 lead.

Blockhus tacked on another escape and the final minute was a 3-2 score in Bartlett’s favor. Despite a lead on the scoreboard as time expired, the Minnesota coaches challenged a potential takedown for Blockhus. Still, it ultimately didn’t count, as Bartlett did come away with a 3-2 victory. Penn State was 1-0 on the day, and Bartlett secured a trip to the quarterfinals to take on No. 2 Austin Gomez of Wisconsin.

No. 10 Brady Berge took on No. 7 Garrett Model of Wisconsin next at 157 pounds. Berge got off to a quick start after being awarded a takedown. The Nittany Lion grabbed another takedown right at the end of the first period, making it a 4-1 Berge lead into the second period.

After starting on the bottom, Model grabbed a point on an escape. It wasn’t long until Berge drove through for another takedown, extending his lead 6-2 with 1:55 in riding time heading into the third period. Berge started on the bottom to kick off the third period. He picked up an escape and tacked on his fourth takedown of the bout shortly after. Berge rode out Model at the end of the bout with 1:52 in total riding time and came away with a 10-2 major decision victory. This victory was Penn State’s first that included bonus points, and Berge was headed to the quarterfinals to face No. 2 Kaleb Young from Iowa.

No. 10 Creighton Edsell took on No. 7 Hayden Lohrey of Purdue at 165 pounds, looking for another upset victory. Edsell grabbed an escape for the bout’s first points, but then got in on a single leg to grab a takedown and a 3-0 lead, but after a review, the takedown was reversed.

Towards the end of the bout, Lohrey tied things up at 1-1 and time expired heading into sudden victory overtime. In overtime, Edsell came through on a double leg, got awarded with a takedown, and came away with a 3-1 victory. The Nittany Lions were 3-0 on the day to this point, and Edsell was headed to the quarterfinals to take on No. 2 Alex Marinelli of Iowa.

No. 3 Greg Kerkvliet took on No. 14 Zach Schrader of Maryland in a heavyweight matchup. Kerkvliet got off to a 14-0 lead just ahead of recording a pin at the 2:13 mark of the first period. Penn State went 4-0 in the first four matches it had, and Kerkvliet also earned a trip to the quarterfinals.


No. 2 Hildebrandt got his first taste of Big Ten Championship action when he faced No. 7 Michael DeAugustino of Northwestern at 125 pounds. There was no score through the first period in the bout. DeAugustino took a 2-0 lead on two escapes in the second period. Hildebrandt came out with a reversal to tie the bout at 2-2. DeAugustino came away with another escape, however, giving him a 3-2 lead.

Despite the lead, Hildebrandt secured riding time. Into sudden victory overtime, DeAugustino came away with a single leg takedown to grab a 5-3 victory by decision. This was the first loss for Penn State of the day.

No. 1 Bravo-Young then faced No. 9 Matt Ramos of Purdue at 133 pounds. Bravo-Young grabbed three points to have a 3-2 lead in the first period. After that, the star kept things rolling, extending his lead 6-2. Ultimately, it wasn’t much of a test for Bravo-Young, as he came away with an 11-3 major decision victory. He locked up a trip to the semifinals to face No. 5 Dylan Ragusin from Michigan. Additionally, Bravo-Young qualified for a trip to the NCAA Championships.

No. 1 Lee was up next against Wisconsin’s No. 8 Joseph Zargo in a 141-pound quarterfinal bout. Lee had a 4-0 lead through the first period, including two points from near fall. In the second period, Lee went up 16-0 before recording a technical fall at the 5:06 mark. Lee became the second Nittany Lion of the postseason to earn a trip to the NCAA Championships in Detroit, Mich. Penn State was 6-1 to this point of the day.

No. 7 Bartlett had his second bout of the day in a quarterfinal matchup with No. 2 Austin Gomez of Wisconsin at 149 pounds. Gomez would have a 4-1 lead after two early takedowns. After the second period, Gomez extended his lead 9-3. Unfortunately, the third period didn’t fare much better for Bartlett as he only grabbed a point. Gomez grabbed two more points and had secured riding time to make it a 12-4 major decision victory for the Cornhusker. Bartlett headed to consolation action after the loss.

No. 10 Berge’s quarterfinal bout against No. 2 Young of Iowa was the epitome a Hawkeye-Nittany Lion bout. Berge had accumulated three points through the first two periods. Then, late in the third period, Berge tacked on another takedown and came away with a 5-3 victory by decision. Berge became the third Penn State wrestler to head to the NCAA Championships.

At 165 pounds, No. 10 Edsell tried to pick up an upset over Iowa’s No. 2 Marinelli. Marinelli picked up two takedowns, taking a 4-2 lead through the first period. Edsell put up a fight, but ultimately Marinelli came away with an 8-2 victory by decision. Edsell will wrestle in the consolation bracket Saturday evening.

No. 1 Starocci had went out make a statement when he faced No. 9 Dominic Solis of Maryland. Starocci got out to a 4-2 lead just before he pinned Solis at the 2:17 mark of the bout. Starocci was off to the semifinals, as well as locking up a trip Detroit, Mich.

No. 1 Brooks also wanted to show out against a Maryland opponent as he faced No. 8 Kyle Cochran. It did not take long for Brooks to take care of business as he got the fall at the 1:40 mark of the bout. Brooks is now an NCAA qualifier and will wrestle in the semifinals.

No. 2 Dean came in hot off a first-round bye facing No. 7 Greg Bulsak from Rutgers. Early on, Dean was awarded a takedown that was ultimately overturned after an official review. Right after the call, Dean was able to get a “no doubt about it” takedown that gave him a 2-1 lead into the second period. Three more points extended Dean’s lead 5-2 at the end of the second period. Dean secured riding time in the third period and came away with a 6-2 victory by decision.

No. 3 Kerkvliet had the final match of the first session for Penn State facing, No. 6 Christian Lance from Nebraska. Kerkvliet tacked on a takedown for the first period’s only points. Kerkvliet was awarded two more points in the second period and held a 4-1 lead going into the third period. Kerkvliet also secured riding time in the third period, ultimately ending with a 7-1 victory by decision.

Penn State came away with seven wrestlers that made it to the semifinals. The Nittany Lions are currently in second place behind Michigan with 67.5 team points.

What’s Next?

The consolation round will begin Saturday evening at 6:30 p.m. on Big Ten Network+, and the semifinals will take place at 8:30 p.m. on Big Ten Network.

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About the Author

Gabriel Herman

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

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