When Cael Sanderson decided to come to Penn State, it was undoubtedly the biggest game-changer in the wrestling program’s history.
He added another notch to his legacy on Sunday as he picked up his 200th career win in the third-ranked Lions’ 18-13 victory on the road at No. 2 Michigan in the Crisler Center. Sanderson had 44 wins at his alma mater at Iowa State before moving on to Penn State, where he’s at 156 wins and counting.
More importantly, the Nittany Lions faced what was easily their biggest test so far this season, and they passed it with flying colors.
** PSU 174-pounder Carter Starocci, who came in ranked eighth, pulled off a massive upset over the Wolverines’ No. 2 ranked Logan Massa, 7-1, in the overtime tiebreaker. Starocci picked up four near fall points in the first round of the tiebreaker that led to the big win.
Quite simply, if Starocci did not come up with the upset over Massa, the Lions don’t win the dual meet. Had Massa won, the Wolverines would have closed their deficit to 12-9. Aaron Brooks picked up a decision for Penn State at 184, but Michigan got the decision at 197 and then a major decision at heavyweight. In that case, Michigan would have won the dual meet, 16-15.
It seems like Starocci has put his upset loss against Indiana in his collegiate debut way in the rear view mirror.
** Fans finally got to see the debut of 125-pounder Robert Howard, the two-time New Jersey state champion. Howard didn’t disappoint either as he won the anticipated debut, 6-5, over Michigan’s Jack Medley.
It was visible that Howard was better than Medley on his feet early, but it also looked like Howard’s conditioning needs some catching up to do as he had to hold on in the third period to win. There may have been a little stalling in the final minute, but not enough for Medley to get a point to tie the match. All in all, it was an encouraging debut for the true freshman.
** At 133, PSU’s Roman Bravo-Young was probably only a few seconds away from making his 9-2 win over Michigan’s Dylan Ragusin a major decision. RBY appeared to have a takedown at the edge of the mat in the final seconds. It was not called on the mat and one of the PSU coaches threw the brick for a challenge. After video review, there was no takedown and RBY had to settle for the decision.
If Bravo-Young would have had five more seconds, he would have probably had the takedown easily. Depending on who you ask, he might have had it anyway. Luckily for the Lions, it didn’t matter for the dual meet.
** It was just another day at the office for second-ranked 141-pounder Nick Lee. He took care of No. 20 Drew Mattin very easily in a 10-4 win.
It’s not the match that I wanted to see this weekend with Lee. A bout against Iowa’s top-ranked 141-pounder Jaydin Eierman would have been extremely fun to watch. It would be a pretty good bet to happen in the finals at Big Tens, and maybe even again two weeks later in the NCAA Tournament.
** It looks like Sanderson has settled on a starter at 149 pounds in Terrell Barraclough. Barraclough had a tough matchup Sunday in sixth-ranked Kanen Storr, but he had a chance at the upset in the final minutes. He fell, 4-3, but Barraclough should feel good about himself.
** At 157, No. 9 Brady Berge pulled off a minor upset of Michigan’s eighth-ranked Will Lewan, 3-1. Berge executed an ankle pick in the third period for the lone takedown of the match. It may not have been an upset of the magnitude of Starocci’s, but Berge’s win shouldn’t be discounted, either.
** Michigan got an upset back right after the intermission as No. 16 Cameron Amine picked up a 4-1 win on Penn State’s Joe Lee, who is ranked sixth. Honestly, it’s a little surprising Amine is only 16th.
** Third-ranked Aaron Brooks was solid at 184 in a 10-5 decision over Jaden Bullock. Brooks also was working for a major decision in the third period, but Bullock earned a takedown to put a stop to any thought of bonus points.
** PSU 197-pounder Michael Beard and heavyweight Seth Nevills both ran into buzzsaws. Beard fell to No. 1 Myles Amine, 8-5, while No. 2 Mason Parris finished off Nevills with a 12-2 major decision at heavyweight for the only bonus points of the dual meet.
** There were five extra matches wrestled, with Penn State winning three of them. Beau Bartlett and Creighton Edsell both won close matches, while Donovon Ball picked up a major decision.
** Sunday’s dual meet was pretty important, if only for the fact that it meant that most of the starters have now reached the minimum of wrestling four matches before the Big Ten Tournament. There are a couple exceptions though. Howard only made his debut on Sunday, and Beard only wrestled his second match because he was not available for the tri-meet to open the season. Starocci was eligible for the postseason after the Wisconsin dual because he wrestled an extra match against Indiana.
Penn State still has two dual meets remaining that are scheduled, plus three others that have been postponed that could still be wrestled, although they are running out of time to compete in the postponed duals. You would think that Penn State will make it work somehow to get Beard and Howard eligible for the postseason, even if they have to wrestle a couple extra matches.
Penn State, which is now 4-0 on the season, returns to action Friday night back on the road at Ohio State. The dual will be broadcasted on the Big Ten Network at 7 p.m.
Penn State 18, Michigan 13
125 – Robert Howard (PSU) dec. Jack Medley (M), 6-5. (3-0)
133 – Roman Bravo-Young (PSU) dec. Dylan Ragusin (M), 9-2. (6-0)
141 – Nick Lee (PSU) dec. Drew Mattin (M), 10-4. (9-0)
149 – Kanen Storr (M) dec. Terrell Barraclough (PSU), 4-3. (9-3)
157 – Brady Berge (PSU) dec. Will Lewan (M), 3-1. (12-3)
165 – Cameron Amine (M) dec. Joe Lee (PSU), 4-1. (12-6)
174 – Carter Starocci (PSU) dec. Logan Massa (M), 7-1 OT TB. (15-6)
184 – Aaron Brooks (PSU) dec. Jaden Bullock (M), 10-5. (18-6)
197 – Myles Amine (M) dec. Michael Beard (PSU), 8-5. (18-9)
285 – Mason Parris (M) maj. dec. Seth Nevills (PSU), 12-2. (18-13)
184 – Donovon Ball (PSU) maj. dec. Bobby Striggow (M), 12-4.
149 – Beau Bartlett (PSU) dec. Cole Mattin (M), 8-4.
157 – Nick Lombard (M) dec. Luke Gardner (PSU), 6-4 OT.
165 – Reece Hughes (M) dec. Konner Kraeszig (PSU), 5-2.
174 – Creighton Edsell (PSU) dec. Max Maylor (M), 4-3.