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Penn State Wrestling Finishes Second At Big Ten Championships

Penn State wrestling crowned four individual Big Ten Champions Sunday night in Lincoln, Neb.

Roman Bravo-Young, Nick Lee, Carter Starocci, and Max Dean all managed to secure titles in their respective brackets. Meanwhile, No. 2 Drew Hildebrandt placed 10th at 125 pounds and is an automatic qualifier for a trip to the NCAA Championships, while No. 7 Beau Bartlett placed seventh at 149 pounds.

The Nittany Lions’ final push for a Big Ten team title was decided by No. 3 Greg Kerkvliet’s third-place bout at 285 pounds. Michigan won the tournament with a score of 143 points, and Penn State was a close second with 141.5 points.

How It Happened

No. 1 Roman Bravo-Young had the opportunity to defend his Big Ten title when he took on No. 2 Austin DeSanto of Iowa. This championship bout was their seventh meeting all-time as Bravo-Young led the series against DeSanto 4-2, winning the previous four bouts.

While neither wrestler scored any points in the first period, DeSanto came out with an aggressive approach. DeSanto scored the bout’s first point on an escape in the second period. Bravo-Young was issued a stall warning in the second. The third period started after Bravo-Young chose to be on the bottom in which he escaped, tying things up at 1-1.

Despite a review, Bravo-Young was awarded a takedown with only 20 seconds left in the third period, taking his first lead of the bout 3-1. Bravo-Young had an incredible ride out of DeSanto in the closing seconds, and the pair shook hands as the Nittany Lion became a two-time Big Ten champion on a 3-1 victory at 133 pounds.

Lee came away with a Big Ten championship after Iowa’s No. 2 Jaydin Eierman medically forfeited at 141 pounds.

Lee led Eierman 2-1 in their three prior matchups ahead of the forfeit, and is the first Penn State wrestler to win a 141-pound Big Ten title since 2003.

No. 10 Brady Berge went up against No. 2 Kaleb Young in a 157-pound bout for third place. Neither wrestler scored any points through the first period. However, after starting on the bottom in the second period, Berge did grab a point from an escape. Young escaped from the bottom in the third period to tie things 1-1.

Neither Berge nor Young could break the tie in regulation, so sudden victory overtime was necessary. Berge was able to get in quick on a leg to drive in a takedown and take third place at 157 pounds in a crucial moment for Penn State’s team score.

In the 174-pound bout, No. 1 Carter Starocci faced Michigan’s No. 2 Logan Massa in their third all-time matchup. Starocci led the series 2-0 before this match. Starocci hit a takedown about midway through the first period taking a 2-0 lead.

Massa was awarded an escape in the first period, but head coach Cael Sanderson disagreed and challenged the call. It was overturned and revoked. Moments later, Massa did have a non-negotiable escape. Starocci led 2-1 into the start of the second period.

Starocci escaped with about 30 seconds remaining in the second period, extending his lead 3-1 into the third. Following a third caution, Starocci was awarded a point, and then with riding time secured, Starocci came away with a 5-1 victory and his first Big Ten title.

No. 1 Aaron Brooks showed up Sunday evening hoping to defend his Big Ten title in the 184-pound championship against No. 2 Myles Amine from Michigan.

Brooks struck first on a takedown with 1:20 remaining in the initial period. Amine escaped with under a minute left to make it a 2-1 bout into the start of the second period.

Brooks elected to start on the bottom in the second period and quickly escaped, extending his lead 3-1. Amine tacked on a point off of an escape early in the third period setting up an intense 1:45 finale in the third. The Wolverine grabbed a takedown with little time remaining, but with under five seconds, Brooks escaped to make it a 4-4 bout that went into sudden victory overtime.

Amine grabbed a quick takedown in overtime and beat Brooks 6-4. Before this bout, Brooks had only given up one takedown all season.

No. 2 Max Dean next faced No. 1 Eric Schultz of Nebraska, hoping to become a Big Ten champion at 197 pounds.

Dean was awarded a takedown early, taking a 2-0 lead with under 30 seconds in the first period. Schultz grabbed an escape with little time left in the first period. In the second period, Schultz elected to start on the bottom.

With under 30 seconds in the second period, Schultz was able to escape, tying things up into the third period 2-2. Dean started the third period on the bottom, in which he took a 3-2 lead on an escape. In the third period, Dean had an excellent defensive showing and had riding time secured to win his first Big Ten title 4-2.

The final bout and opportunity for the Nittany Lions to win a Big Ten championship came down to No. 3 Kerkvliet as he faced Michigan’s No. 4 Mason Parris.

Kerkvliet got the initial takedown with under a minute remaining in the first period. Parris escaped almost immediately, making it a 2-1 score. Parris then escaped about 20 seconds into the second period ,tying things 2-2 into the third.

Kerkvliet was able to grab an escape early in the third period, retaking his lead and making it 3-2. With nearly 30 seconds remaining in regulation, Kerkvliet was awarded a takedown to extend his lead 5-2. Parris escaped before the bout ended, but Kerkvliet won 5-3, placing third at 285 pounds.

While the Nittany Lion secured the third-place victory, he needed a fall to put Penn State ahead of the Wolverines. Cael Sanderson’s team finished just 1.5 points short of Michigan’s mark.

What’s Next?

At least nine Penn State wrestlers will make the trip to Detroit, Mich. as qualifiers for the 2022 NCAA Wrestling Championships. Those will begin at Little Caesar’s Arena at 12 p.m. on Thursday, March 17.

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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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