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Penn State Wrestling Sends Five To NCAA National Championship Matches

Six Penn State wrestlers returned to Little Caesars Arena in Detroit for the second time Friday to take part in the semifinals of the NCAA Championships.

Five qualifiers, No. 1 Roman Bravo-Young, No. 1 Nick Lee, No. 1 Carter Starocci, No. 2 Aaron Brooks, and No. 1 Max Dean will all compete for a championship title Saturday night after winning their semifinal bouts, while No. 4 Greg Kerkvliet will make his run for third place.

How It Happened

First up in the semifinal session for the Nittany Lions was No. 1 Roman Bravo-Young against No. 5 Austin DeSanto from Iowa. Bravo-Young kept the crowd on the edge of their seats as DeSanto maintained the lead through two periods due to an early escape. But, the Penn State senior was able to get an escape and a takedown late in the third earn his sport in the championship bout Saturday.

At 141 pounds, No. 1 Nick Lee was next to the mat against No. 4 Real Woods from Stanford. Lee secured the takedown in the first to start off with a 2-1 lead. One escape for the Nittany Lions and two escapes for Woods brought the score within one, but Lee was able to hold on and get the win.

After a bit of a break, No. 1 Carter Starocci was back to face No. 4 seed Hayden Hilday from NC State. The sophomore was all business from the moment he exited the tunnel and he went up 4-1 after one. He continued to run up the score to 7-3 before ultimately getting the 10-3 win at the conclusion of the match.

Heading into the second half of qualifiers, No. 2 Aaron Brooks wrestled the other Hilday brother from NC State, No. 3 Trent Hilday. Brooks got the early 2-1 through the first period, but a few back and forth points suddenly made the score 4-4 and the match entered sudden victory. The Penn State crowd was on edge here in Detroit, but Brooks was able to finish the job with a takedown and win 6-4.

197-pound No. 1 Max Dean had his second match of the day against No. 21 Gavin Hoffman from Ohio State. Unlike his other bouts in the tournament, Dean was aggressive the entire match. He started off with a 5-0 lead after two periods and extended that to 9-3 by the end of the bout. Dean also secured 3:25 of riding time with the win.

To finish off the night, No. 4 Greg Kerkvliet took on Olympic gold medalist No. 1 Gable Steveson of Minnesota. Kerkvliet was able to hold on strong with a tied 2-2 score through the second, but Steveson pulled away in the third with a number of takedowns. The heavyweight dropped the bout 8-3 and will wrestle in consolation matches Saturday morning.

What’s Next?

Penn State will wrestle again Saturday at 11 a.m., with a bout from Greg Kerkvliet, before returning for five championships matches at 7 p.m.

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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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