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Nailbiter over Hoosiers highlights opening-day sweep for wrestling

Photo by Penn State Athletics: Seth Nevills

What many thought would be a couple of easy victories for Penn State to finally open the season turned out not to be the case. At least for the very first dual meet of the season.

The Nittany Lions needed every bout of their first competition of the season with the meet coming down to the heavyweight bout. A Seth Nevills fall ended up securing the dual with the Hoosiers for a 24-15 victory.

Penn State was much more business-like in the second dual with Northwestern, defeating the Wildcats, 29-13.

PSU was down six points at the start of both meets as the Lions did not have a medically cleared wrestler for the 125-pound weight class on Saturday.

The dual with the Hoosiers was made much closer due to an upset from DJ Washington of Penn State’s seventh-ranked Carter Starocci. Starocci fell behind in a big hole at 10-1 at the end of the first period. He fell just short of a comeback with a 10-9 loss.

Below is a breakdown of each weight throughout the two dual meets:

125: The Lions did not have a medically cleared 125-pounder for the day as they forfeited to Indiana’s Jacob Moran and Northwestern’s Michael DeAugustino. PSU fans will have to wait to see the debut of either true freshman Robert Howard, who was a two-time New Jersey state champion, or redshirt freshman Baylor Shunk. Shunk won 132 matches for Penns Valley High School, which is just 25 minutes down the road from State College.

133: Junior Roman Bravo-Young had what most would probably consider an up-and-down day, despite going 2-0 in the dual meets. He started the day with an 11-8 win decision over Indiana’s Kyle Luigs, but he was visibly unhappy with himself coming off the mat. He certainly made up for it in the Northwestern dual with a pin of Dylan Utterback in 3:48, which likely put away any thoughts of the Wildcats pulling an upset.

141: One of the few Nittany Lions that could probably say that it was just another day at the office was Nick Lee. The No. 2-ranked Lee started with a technical fall of Cayden Rooks through two periods as the senior put on a clinic for getting back points. In the second dual, Lee took a 12-2 major decision of Northwestern’s Frankie Tal-Shahar. Tal-Shahar was called for stalling four times in the bout, which resulted in Lee getting four points.

149: PSU head coach Cael Sanderson sent out Jarod Verkleeren for the Indiana bout and Terrell Barraclough for the Wildcats. It will be interesting to see who handles the weight next weekend as Verkleeren wrestled in an extra match against Northwestern, but had to default. The 10th-ranked Verkleeren fell to Graham Rooks, 4-2, and looked very tired coming off the mat. Barraclough, a redshirt freshman in his dual meet debut, was edged 3-2 by 20th-ranked Yahya Thomas. If Verkleeren is unable to go next weekend, Barraclough would likely get the nod in the dual meet with Wisconsin, although Bo Pipher and Luke Gardner also wrestled in extra matches at 149.

157: Brady Berge wrestled in just two matches in the 2019-20 season due to injury, but started off this pandemic-shortened season in a big way. The 11th-ranked Berge picked up a pair of decisions – a 5-2 win over Indiana’s Matt Ortiz, and a 12-7 victory over Northwestern’s Maxx Mayfield.

165: Like Berge, redshirt freshman Joe Lee started off the season with a pair of decisions. Lee beat the Hoosiers’ Nick South, 8-4, and moved on to beat Northwestern’s David Ferrante, 8-7, in a bout that was decided by riding time. Lee, who made his debut Saturday, had a 14-2 record last year while wrestling unattached.

174: In one of the most anticipated debuts that the Lions had while featuring a young roster, Starocciwas headlocked to his back in the first period. Washington had a 10-1 lead after the first three minutes, but give Starocci credit. He did not allow another point to Washington, but the hole was too big to climb out of as he fell, 10-9. Starocci got his first collegiate win against the Wildcats with a 4-1 decision over Troy Fisher.

184: A lot like Nick Lee, it was business as usual for Aaron Brooks in his first two matches of the season. Brooks had no trouble in getting a major decision and a technical fall on the day. He beat Indiana’s Drayton Harris, 18-5, and Northwestern’s Jack Jessen, 21-6, in seven minutes. The sophomore already looks to be well on his way to possibly repeating as Big Ten champion at 184.

197: Projected starter Michael Beard was not cleared to compete, so Sanderson sent out Levko Higgins against Indiana, and Donovon Ball against Northwestern. Higgins, who started his career at George Mason University before moving on to Penn State Behrend and finally now settling in State College, dropped a 10-3 decision to the Hoosiers’ Nick Willham. Ball ran into a buzzsaw in 11th-ranked Lucas Davison, who recorded a 12-3 major decision over the redshirt freshman Ball.

285: Heavyweight Seth Nevills, who went 13-4 last year as a true freshman, started off the season the right way with a quick pin of Indiana’s Rudy Streck in 1:14. He may have been equally as dominating in the dual against the Wildcats as he finished with a 24-9 technical fall after two periods against Northwestern’s Brendan Devine. Fans will have to wait to see if they will get their first look at Ohio State transfer Greg Kerkvliet.

NOTES: Penn State wrestled seven extra matches against Indiana, and nine more against Northwestern. The Lions went a perfect 7-0 in the exhibition matches against Indiana, and 6-3 against Northwestern. Beau Bartlett (141 pounds), Konner Kraeszig (165), and Creighton Edsell (174) went 3-0 in the extra matches, while Luke Gardner (149) went 2-0. Starocci and Barraclough both earned a win in an extra match. … In the other dual meet of the day, Indiana defeated Northwestern, 18-16. … Penn State will hopefully wrestle Wisconsin next Sunday at a site and time to be determined. The dual with Wisconsin was supposed to be a tri-meet with Michigan, but the University of Michigan has a pause on all athletics currently. The logistics of the dual meet with Wisconsin are still being worked out.

Penn State 24, Indiana 15

125 – Jacob Moran (I) won by forfeit. (0-6)

133 – Roman Bravo-Young (PSU) dec. Kyle Luigs (I), 11-8. (3-6)

141 – Nick Lee (PSU) tech. fall Cayden Rooks (I), 16-1 5:00. (8-6)

149 – Graham Rooks (I) dec. Jarod Verkleeren (PSU), 4-2. (8-9)

157 – Brady Berge (PSU) dec. Matt Ortiz (I), 5-2. (11-9)

165 – Joe Lee (PSU) dec. Nick South (I), 8-4. (14-9)

174 – DJ Washington (I) dec. Carter Starocci (PSU), 10-9. (14-12)

184 – Aaron Brooks (PSU) maj. dec. Drayton Harris (I), 18-5. (18-12)

197 – Nick Willham (I) dec. Levko Higgins (PSU), 10-3. (18-15)

285 – Seth Nevills (PSU) pinned Rudy Streck (I), 1:14. (24-15)

Extra Matches

174 – Carter Starocci (PSU) tech. fall Robert Detars (I), 18-1 2:37.

149 – Luke Gardner (PSU) pinned Jonathan Kervin (I), :56.

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165 – Konner Kraeszig (PSU) maj. dec. Derek Gilcher (I), 9-0.

141 – Beau Bartlett (PSU) pinned Jacob Moran (I), 1:48.

149 – Terrell Barraclough (PSU) maj. dec. Jonathan Kervin (I), 8-0.

174 – Creighton Edsell (PSU) dec. Robert Detars (I), 10-5.

165 – Konner Kraeszig (PSU) dec. Sammy Cokely (I), 13-7.

Penn State 29, Northwestern 13

125 – Michael DeAugustino (N) won by forfeit. (0-6)

133 – Roman Bravo-Young (PSU) pinned Dylan Utterback (N), 3:47. (6-6)

141 – Nick Lee (PSU) maj. dec. Frankie Tal-Shahar (N), 12-2. (10-6)

149 – Yahya Thomas (N) dec. Terrell Barraclough (PSU), 3-2. (10-9)

157 – Brady Berge (PSU) dec. Maxx Mayfield (N), 12-7. (13-9)

165 – Joe Lee (PSU) dec. David Ferrante (N), 8-7. (16-9)

174 – Carter Starocci (PSU) dec. Troy Fisher (N), 4-1. (19-9)

184 – Aaron Brooks (PSU) tech. fall Jack Jessen (N), 21-6 7:00. (24-9)

197 – Lucas Davison (N) maj. dec. Donovon Ball (PSU), 12-3. (24-13)

285 – Seth Nevills (PSU) tech. fall Brendan Devine (N), 24-9 5:00. (29-13)

Extra Matches

141 – Beau Bartlett (PSU) dec. Colin Valdviez (N), 8-4.

141 – Beau Bartlett (PSU) dec. Justin Benjamin (N), 10-4.

141 – Justin Benjamin (N) maj. dec. Brandon Meredith (PSU), 18-5.

149 – Trevor Chumbley (N) wins by default over Jarod Verkleeren.

149 – Trevor Chumbley (N) dec. Bo Pipher (PSU), 6-2.

149 – Luke Gardner (PSU) tech. fall Jamie Berg (N), 15-0 7:00.

165 – Konner Kraeszig (PSU) maj. dec. Ankhaa Enkmandakh (N), 10-2.

174 – Creighton Edsell (PSU) dec. Jon Halvorson (N), 3-2.

174 – Creighton Edsell (PSU) dec. Jadon Martin (N), 9-4.

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