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No. 1 Penn State Wrestling Demolishes No. 3 Iowa 29-6

No. 1 Penn State (9-0, 6-0 Big Ten) wrestling took on the No. 3 Iowa Hawkeyes (10-2, 5-2 Big Ten) in Iowa City on Friday night in head coach Cael Sanderson’s 200th win with the program. The match marked another storied battle between the two dominant wrestling programs, both of which rostered a handful of national champions and All-Americans.

The Nittany Lions were led by major decision victories from Aaron Nagao, Levi Haines, Carter Starocci, Bernie Truax, and Greg Kervliet.

How It Happened

125 Pounds

No. 2 Braeden Davis started the meet, taking on No. 7 Drake Ayala. Quick offense from Ayala proved successful, securing an early takedown over Davis and taking a 3-1 lead into the second after Davis escaped. An escape out of bottom position from Ayala was the only point scored in the second period, extending his lead over Davis 4-1. An escape from Davis to start the third wouldn’t be enough to cover the deficit, Davis dropped a decision 4-2.

133 Pounds

No. 6 Aaron Nagao was in action next, battling against No. 20 Cullan Schriever. Unlike of the previous match, Nagao struck first for the opening takedown, riding out the entire first period ammasing nearly 120 seconds of riding time. After escaping from bottom position to start the second, Nagao extended his lead to 4-0 heading into the final two minutes. A takedown from Nagao paired with a handful of back-points gave the Nittany Lion an 11-0 major decision.

The dual score read 4-3 in favor of the Nittany Lions.

141 Pounds

After a short break, No. 1 Beau Bartlett took on No. 2 Real Woods. A strong takedown from Bartlett broke the deadlock, collecting nearly a minute of riding time before Woods escaped. Another escape point from Woods to start the second period tightened Bartlett’s lead to 3-2 heading into the final period. An escape from the Nittany Lion to start the third period was followed up by Bartlett’s second takedown of the match, securing a 7-2 decision over the reigning national champion.

149 Pounds

Walking to the mat next were No. 10 Tyler Kasak and No. 12 Caleb Rathjen. Rathjen secured the match’s first takedown in the waning seconds of the period, building a 3-0 lead after one period. Another last-second takedown from Rathjen extended the Hawkeyes’ lead to 6-2 heading into the final two minutes. Kasak fired back with two takedowns of his own to mount a comeback in the third period, locking up the bout score at 8-8 and pushing the match into sudden victory. Kasak’s comeback effort was stopped as Rathjen secured his third takedown of the match to take an 11-8 sudden victory decision.

157 Pounds

After another break, No. 1 Levi Haines took to the mat to wrestle against No. 5 Jared Franek. Haines grabbed the bout’s first takedown, riding out the rest of the period and collecting over 90 seconds of riding time heading into the second. An escape out of bottom position and a second takedown from Haines increased his lead to 7-0, nearing three minutes of riding time entering the final two minutes. A third and final takedown from Haines gave the Nittany Lion a 12-0 major decision after riding time.

The dual score read 11-6 heading into the intermission.

165 Pounds

No. 7 Mitchell Mesenbrink restarted the action after the intermission, taking on No. 6 Michael Caliendo. Two quick takedowns from Mesenbrink gave the Nittany Lion a 6-1 lead with over 60 seconds of riding time as the bout entered the middle period. An additional takedown and a stalling point awarded to Mesenbrink helped extend his lead to 10-3 heading into the final two minutes. Despite a late takedown from Caliendo, Mesenbrink hung on for the 12-6 decision after riding time.

174 Pounds

No. 1 Carter Starocci was next as he stared down No. 7 Patrick Kennedy. Two takedowns from Starocci in the first three minutes created a 6-1 lead heading into the second period. Impressive offense and defense from Starocci increased his lead to 13-3 after two. Despite letting up a stalling point, Starocci continued to display tough takedown defense to hang on for the 13-4 major decision.

Penn State led the dual 18-6.

197 Pounds

No. 6 Bernie Truax was next up against Aiden Riggins. After an early takedown from Truax, the wrestler maintained top control for the entire period, collecting a 3-0 lead with over two minutes of riding time. An escape from Truax was be the only point scored in the second period, and the bout lead extended to 4-0. A final takedown from Truax secured the 8-0 major decision after riding time.

Penn State now mathematically won the dual with a score of 22-6 with two matches to go.

197 Pounds

No. 1 Aaron Brooks took the mat next against No. 11 Zach Glazier. The first period was completed with no points for either wrestler, who were still working to find an efficient offensive move. After an escape to start the second, Brooks finally connected with a takedown to create a 4-0 lead after two. An escape from Glazier to start the third wasn’t enough to overcome the deficit, and Brooks hung on for a 5-1 decision victory after riding time.


In the last bout of the dual, No. 1 Greg Kerkvliet took on Ben Kueter. A quick takedown from Kerkvliet created a 3-1 lead for the Nittany Lion after one. Kerkvliet rode out the entire second period, amassing over 180 seconds of riding time headed into the third period. A second takedown from Kerkvliet secured the 9-1 major decision victory.

Penn State won the dual with a final score of 29-6.

What’s Next?

Penn State will be in action next when it takes on No. 14 Rutgers in the Bryce Jordan Center on Monday, February 12. The dual will begin at 7 p.m. and be broadcast on the Big Ten Network.

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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 Matt Canada

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