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Penn State Wrestling Claims Four Individual Titles, Wins Big Ten Team Championship

Penn State wrestling captured the Big Ten team championship, as well as four individual titles, on the last day of the Big Ten Championships in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Roman Bravo-Young, Carter Starocci, Aaron Brooks, and Levi Haines all took home individual titles, with Penn State going 4-for-6 in the finals. Two additional Nittany Lions wrestlers also found themselves wrestling for third place after dominant wins in the consolation brackets, and Beau Bartlett earned himself a third-place finish.

The night was highlighted by the victory from Haines, the youngest first-place winner in this year’s tournament.

Finals

First up was Roman Bravo-Young taking on Aaron Nagao at 133 pounds. Bravo-Young tried to earn his third straight Big Ten title in his last season wrestling for the blue and white.

A handful of takedown attempts struggled to come to fruition until a snappy single leg from Bravo-Young gave him the 2-0 lead in the final seconds of the first period. Bravo-Young dove for an additional takedown in the second, extending his lead to 4-1 heading into the final two minutes.

Nagao chose the top position to start the third, a place where he is particularly good at holding. Despite this, Bravo-Young would end up drawing a stall point out of the Minnesota wrestler. Still, Bravo-Young secured the 5-2 win, collecting his third Big Ten individual title.

At 157 pounds, true freshman Levi Haines stared down top-ranked Peyton Robb of Nebraska.

Despite some decent scrambling, neither wrestler was able to take advantage as the score remained 0-0 after one. Robb opened up the scoring with an escape from bottom position to start the period. Besides this, no other points were scored in the second, as Robb now led 1-0. Haines tied up the score at 1-1 with an escape of his own with more than half of the third period to go. Neither wrestler broke to break the tie, pushing the match to sudden victory.

Sudden victory lived up to the name, as Haines slammed Robb to the mat for the takedown and the win, granting the true freshman his first Big Ten championship.

Next Nittany Lion up was Carter Starocci up against Mikey Labriola of Nebraska at 174 pounds. Starocci entered trying to win his second Big Ten title en route to defending his National Championship later this month.

A late takedown attempt from Starocci was seconds away from being secured until the buzzer sounded ending the first period. Labriola escaped to start the second, however, he would fall to a takedown from Starocci near the end of the period, giving the Nittany Lion the 2-1 lead heading into the final two minutes. Starocci extended his lead with an escape and another takedown, giving him a 5-2 victory and his second Big Ten title.

At 183 pounds, Aaron Brooks took on Kaleb Romero of Ohio State. Brooks came in as a two-time Big Ten champion, trying to avenge his runner-up finish at the tournament last year.

Brooks went on the offensive early, securing a takedown of his own with nearly 30 seconds of riding time. An eventual escape from Romero made it a one-point match heading into the second. Brooks escaped from bottom position to start the second, then tacked on another takedown shortly thereafter, extending his lead to 5-1 heading into the final period. Pure dominance from Brooks in the third gave him the 12-2 major decision victory and his third Big Ten title.

Next on the mat, Max Dean battled Silas Allred of Nebraska at 197 pounds. Dean won the Big Ten championship last year in his first season in the conference.

Dean fell to a late takedown despite some great defense earlier in the period. He then escaped, making the score 2-1 going into the second. Dean started in bottom position, escaping within the first 30 seconds and tying up the match. Another successful takedown from Allred gave him the 4-3 lead heading into the final period, which after starting in a neutral position, Dean would need a takedown to win. However, another takedown from Allred sealed the match, placing Dean in the runner-up position.

Last but not least, we saw Greg Kerkvliet take on Mason Parris of Michigan, the man who handed him his only loss of the season. The two-time All-American entered trying to win his first Big Ten title.

A powerful takedown from Parris put him out front fast as he began to work in top position. Kerkvliet escaped in less than a minute and was down one heading into the second period. Kervliet escaped again after starting in bottom position to even up the match halfway through the second. Parris jumped right back in front after an escape of his own to start the third.

A dramatic stalling call against Parris tied the match up at 3-3 in the closing seconds of the third, which now was headed into sudden victory. However, Parris used his larger frame to move through Kervliet for the takedown, keeping the Big Ten title out of the hands of the Nittany Lion.

Third-Place Matches

In the first of two third-place matches for the Nittany Lions, Beau Bartlett took on Dylan D’Emilio of Ohio State at 141 pounds.

Little action was seen in the first period, with the score remaining 0-0 after one. D’Emilio would escape from bottom position to start the second, taking his 1-0 lead through the rest of the period and into the third. It was Bartlett’s turn on bottom position where he also quickly escaped. He then used that momentum to bag the first takedown of the match. Another takedown from Bartlett sealed the victory, winning him third place in the 141-pound weight class.

In the second third-place match, Shayne Van Ness battled Max Murin of Iowa at 149 pounds.

Murin shot for a takedown halfway through the period, and after an escape from Van Ness, took a 2-1 lead into the middle period. Van Ness cut into the lead after escaping from bottom position to start the second, however, in a similar fashion, Murin earned an escape to start the third period, putting him back in front 3-2 with just about a minute to go in the match. Van Ness was unable to find another point in the third, taking fourth place in the weight class.

What’s Next?

Nine Nittany Lions will compete in the 2023 NCAA National Championships in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The tournament will take place from March 16 to 18, with all matches streaming on BTN+.

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About the Author

Brendan Wagner

Brendan is a Junior majoring in print and media journalism. Born in Pittsburgh, he now lives in Mooresville, North Carolina. As a die-hard Pittsburgh sports fan, you can find him on Twitter, @brchwags, often complaining about the Pittsburgh Steelers and probably Russell Wilson.

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