Penn State Wrestling Perfect In Session Three, Sends Seven To Semifinals

After a dominant day one from the Nittany Lions, seven Penn State wrestlers competed in the quarterfinals in session three at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Heading into Friday, Penn State was ahead by just under five points in the total team standings, and Cael Sanderson’s crew extended its lead to a whopping 30 points with an outstanding Friday afternoon.

The Nittany Lions were perfect in their quarterfinal matches in session three, once again seeing some bonus point victories. A pin from Big Ten Freshman of the Year Levi Haines highlighted the third session, as the Nittany Lions went undefeated as a team.

With their individual performances today, Roman Bravo-Young, Beau Bartlett, Shayne Van Ness, Levi Haines, Carter Starocci, Aaron Brooks, and Greg Kerkvliet all were named All-Americans, securing spots in the semifinals in their respective weight classes.

Session Three — Quarterfinals

The first Penn Stater up in the session was No. 1 Roman Bravo-Young taking on No. 8 Aaron Nagao of Minnesota at 133 lbs. Bravo-Young previously beat Nagao 5-2 in the finals of the Big Ten Championships just two weeks ago.

Bravo-Young displayed great takedown defense against the Gopher, keeping the match level at 0-0 heading into the second. After Nagao took bottom position to start the second, Bravo-Young remained in top control for the entirety of the second, not allowing Nagao to earn an escape point. A reversal from Bravo-Young halfway through the third finally broke open the scoring for the Nittany Lion, however, Nagao escaped shortly after bringing the match to 2-1 as time ticked down in the final period.

More impressive defense from Bravo-Young paired with a stalling call, and riding time helped him hold on for the 4-1 win, sending him to the semifinals and earning him his fifth All-American honor.

Next up in the quarterfinals was No. 6 Beau Bartlett against No. 3 Cole Matthews of Pitt at 141 lbs. Neither Bartlett nor Matthews could secure a viable takedown in the first, keeping the score tied after one. Bartlett then changed the tide, as he escaped from bottom position efficiently to start the second, almost securing the two-point reversal. The escape was the only point scored in the second period as Bartlett took a 1-0 lead heading into the final two minutes.

Matthews matched Bartlett’s escape to start the third, and despite a late shot from Bartlett, it didn’t come to fruition, and the match was tied 1-1 heading into sudden victory. In the waning seconds of the period, Bartlett shot for a single leg, ending up tripping the Pitt wrestler and securing an emphatic last-second takedown, winning the match 3-1 and sending Bartlett to the semifinals as an All-American for his first time.

Walking to the mat at 149 pounds were No. 12 Shayne Van Ness and No. 20 Graham Rooks of Indiana. Van Ness earned a major-decision victory over Rooks during the season, giving him an upper hand heading into the match. However, Van Ness fell victim to two takedowns in the first, putting him down 4-2 heading into the second period. Van Ness was taken down once again in the second, bringing the deficit to 7-4 heading into the final two minutes.

Van Ness seemed shot out of a cannon as soon as the third period started, the Nittany Lion quickly escaped from bottom position and shot for a takedown close to the edge of the mat. Van Ness then finished his takedown with two near-fall points that were upheld after being challenged by the Hoosiers. The five-point swing put Van Ness up 9-7, eventually leading to a 10-7 win, giving him a shot in the semifinals and an All-American honor in his first NCAA Championship appearance.

No. 2 Levi Haines stepped up next at 157 lbs taking on No. 7 Bryce Andonian of Virginia Tech. Haines found himself in trouble early as he was rolled onto his back for a four-second near fall, giving Andonian a 6-0 lead early in the first. An escape from Haines was his only rebuttal in the first period, finding himself down 6-1 and in bottom position to start the second.

Haines fought back with a handful of takedowns in the middle period, bringing the score back to 7-6 heading into the final period. After another takedown from Haines, he turned Andonian over for the hard-fought pin at 6:11, completing the comeback and earning a spot in the semifinals as a first-time All-American.

Next up in Cael Sanderson’s crew was No. 1 Carter Starocci battling No. 8 Bailee O’Reilly of Minnesota. Starocci finally secured his takedown after a few attempts, immediately going to work from the top position and eventually taking a 4-1 lead heading into the second. After starting with an escape in bottom position, Starocci would play some defense in the remainder of the period, keeping the score at 5-1 heading into the final two minutes.

An escape from O’Reilly was the only point in the third, granting Starocci the 5-2 win, a spot in the semifinals, and his third All-American honor.

Next up was No. 3 Aaron Brooks staring down No. 8 Kaleb Romero of Ohio State at 184 lbs. A deep shot from Romero was defended well by Brooks, keeping the score level at 0-0 as he took bottom position to start the second. An escape from Brooks was later followed up by a hard-fought takedown, giving the two-time national champion a 3-0 lead heading into the final two minutes. Romero would eventually escape, but it would be too little too late as Brooks won the match 4-1, earning his fourth All-American distinction and a trip to the semifinals.

Wrapping up the quarterfinal matches, we saw No. 3 Greg Kerkvliet take on No. 11 Trent Hillger of Wisconsin. There were no successful takedowns tallied in the first, keeping the score at 0-0 heading into the middle period. Kerkvliet escaped from bottom position, giving him the 1-0 lead early in the second. Kerkvliet was able to shoot for a takedown halfway through the second, increasing his lead to 3-0 after two. Kerkvliet then rode out the entire third period in top position, winning 4-0 and heading into the semifinals with his third All-American honor.

Session Three — Consolation Matches

Our first consolation match of the session was No. 9 Max Dean taking on No. 26 Gavin Hoffman of Ohio State. After a first period of little action, Dean found himself up 1-0 after an escape to start the second. A takedown from Dean and incredible top control extended his lead to 3-0 heading into the final two minutes. A final takedown from Dean gave him the 6-0 win to continue his run through the consolation bracket.

Dean would wrestle yet again in the third session, this time taking on No. 18 Tanner Harvey of Oregon State. Harvey was the first to strike with a takedown early in the period, however, an escape and a takedown from Dean put him back in front. Another takedown from Harvey led to an another eventual escape from Dean, tying up an eventful first period 4-4. Dean then escaped from bottom position to break the tie, then shooting for a takedown of his own to extend his lead to 7-4 after two. A final takedown from Dean gave him the 10-5 win after riding time, keeping his All-American hopes alive.

What’s Next?

The Nittany Lions are back in action in the fourth session of the tournament at 8 p.m. from the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. All matches will be available to stream on ESPN+.

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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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