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Seven Penn State Wrestlers Progress To Big Ten Championship Finals

After nine Penn State wrestlers reached the semifinals off the backs of eight bonus point victories in their combined 13 matches, seven Nittany Lions continued their unbeaten streak on the day as they’d advance to the finals on Sunday.

How It Happened

125 Pounds

After a nail-biting sudden victory win is his last time on the mat, No. 6-seeded Braeden Davis met No. 7-seeded Michael DeAugustino of Michigan. The first point of the bout didn’t come until the second period when Davis scored on a quick escape. DeAugustino matched Davis’ escape with one of his own to start the third period, tying up the bout at 1-1 with just over 60 seconds remaining. No more points were scored in the third and just like the Nittany Lion’s previous match, the bout entered sudden victory. After a scoreless two minutes of sudden victory, DeAugustino registered an escape in the first tiebreaker period, taking the lead at 2-1 into the second tiebreak period.

In the second tiebreak, Davis chose the down position to start the 30 seconds, quickly escaping to level the bout at 2-2 heading into another 60-second sudden victory period. Davis broke the stalemate with a flawless inside trip, planting DeAugustino onto his back for the winning three-point takedown, granting the true freshman a spot in the finals.

133 Pounds

In action shortly after was No. 5-seeded Aaron Nagao taking on No. 1 Dylan Ragusin of Michigan. Nagao fell victim early to a hard-fought takedown from Ragusin, however, rolled through for a reversal to tighten the Wolverine’s lead to 4-2 after the first period. A quick escape from Nagao was the only point scored in the middle period, further chipping away at Ragusin’s lead at 4-3. An early escape from Ragusin extended his lead to 5-3, which was enough to take a 6-3 decision after riding time, sending Nagao into the consolation bracket.

141 Pounds

The next Nittany Lion to take the mat was No. 1 seed Beau Bartlett battling No. 1 Sergio Lemley of Michigan. A few takedown attempts from each wrestle never took hold and the score remained 0-0 after the first period. Bartlett began the middle period in the down position, following up a quick escape with the bout’s first takedown to take a 4-0 lead heading into the final two minutes. Despite allowing Lemley to score a takedown and escape of his own, Bartlett displayed a great takedown defense to hang on for the 5-4 decision.

149 Pounds

At 149 pounds, No. 4 seed Tyler Kasak stepped up against the No. 1-seeded Ridge Lovett of Nebraska. Kasak was unable to finish a single-leg attempt near the end of the period, causing the bout to remain scoreless after one. After giving up the only point score in the second via an escape from Lovett, Kasak chose a neutral position to start the final two minutes looking for the go-ahead takedown. However, Kasak was on the receiving end of a takedown for Lovett, dropping a 4-0 decision as he headed into the consolation bracket.

157 Pounds

After a short break, the No. 1 seed Levi Haines walked to the mat to face off against the fourth seed Jared Franek of Iowa. After little action in the opening three minutes, Haines opened up the scoring in the second after a quick escape from bottom position in just eight seconds. Haines followed up the quick escape with the bout’s first takedown, extending his lead to 4-0 heading into the third. Haines finished the bout with a full two-minute third-period ride out in top position, taking a 5-0 decision after riding time and a place in the finals to defend his conference title.

165 Pounds

Trying to stay in the win column for the Nittany Lions was No. 2-seeded Mitchell Mesenbrink taking on No. 3 seed Mike Caliendo of Iowa. Three takedowns from Mesenbrink in the first period would build a strong 9-3 lead for the Nittany Lion after the first three minutes of action. Two additional takedowns in the second period from Mesenbrink extended his lead to 16-5 heading into the final period. Non-stop offensive pressure from Haines in the third period further extended his lead to a remarkable 23-7 for a tech fall at 6:47 and a spot in the finals and a chance at his first Big Ten Championship

186 Pounds

After no Nittany Lions competed in the semifinals at 174 pounds, third seed Bernie Truax got the action going again when he took on No. 2 seed Lenny Pinto of Nebraska. No points were scored in the first period as neither wrestler could stick one of their various takedown attempts, leading to Truax opening up the scoring with an escape point to start the middle period. Pinto quickly locked up the score at 1-1 with an escape of his own as the final period ticked away. Truax then secured the bout’s first takedown on the very edge of the mat, aided by an impressive toe drag to remain in bounds. The move proved to be just enough as Truax took a 4-1 decision to send him to his first Big Ten Championship final.

197 Pounds

Wrestling next was No. 1-seeded Aaron Brooks and the No. 4 seed Silas Allred of Nebraska. Two takedowns and an early 120 seconds of riding time from Brooks in the first period gave the defending national champion a 6-1 lead. A powerful cradle and four-second near fall highlighted a complete ride-out of the second period in top position from Brooks, extending his lead to 10-1. A final takedown from Brooks in the third period gave the senior a 14-2 major decision victory.

Heavyweight

Finishing off the semifinal action of the night was No. 1-seeded Greg Kerkvliet and No. 4-seeded Yaraslau Slavikowski of Rutgers. A quick takedown from Kerkvliet opened up the scoring, followed by two stall calls against Slavikowski to grant Kerkvliet an additional stall point. A second takedown in the middle period after an escape from Kerkvliet extended the Nittany Lion’s lead to 8-0 after two. More dominance in the third period gave Kerkvliet a 9-0 major decision victory after riding time.

Penn State now has a school-record seven wrestlers competing in the Big Ten Championships.

What’s Next?

The Nittany Lions wrestling in the consolation bracket will be in action next at noon on Sunday, March 10. The finals will begin at 4:30 p.m. and will 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 probably Russell Wilson.

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