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Analysis

Lions enjoy memorable finals with plenty to cheer at NCAA Wrestling Championships

Photo by NCAA: Nick Lee

It’s not often that the team title can already be wrapped up by Iowa on championship Saturday night of the NCAA Wrestling Tournament, and it’s still a very successful night for Penn State.

And even though there might be some disappointment of not getting a team title from head coach Cael Sanderson, there was still plenty to cheer about Saturday night.

The Lions’ quartet of Roman Bravo-Young (133), Nick Lee (141), Carter Starocci (174), and Aaron Brooks (184) went a perfect 4 for the 4 in the NCAA Finals to put a close on such an unusual, but still successful season.

The Hawkeyes clinched the team title late in the medal round on Saturday and ended the tournament with 129 points, but Penn State made it a little bit closer by the end with 113.5 points, which was much closer than the gap for the Big Ten Tournament.

Oklahoma State came in third with 99.5 points, while Arizona State (74) and Michigan (69) were fourth and fifth, respectively.

“It kind of tells you how good Iowa is,” said PSU head coach Cael Sanderson. “They’ve got a really good team this year. We just need a couple more point-scorers, but the goal is always to just be the best you can be. We’re just grateful to be here, win or lose.”

Even though there was a little disappointment from Sanderson, the rest of the night showed a bunch of happy faces.

Bravo-Young, Lee, and Starocci all won their finals matches in overtime, while Brooks fought off a late takedown attempt that would have cost him the match had he given it up.

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“I think the guys just believed,” said Sanderson. “They wrestled really well. In the NCAA finals, you can wrestle great and still not win. It’s just great to see the toughness out of the guys. I think that’s where the belief really kicks in.

Bravo-Young took a 1-0 lead into the third period and already had a stall warning on him. He was then hit with stalling twice in a matter of moments, but he also had a riding time advantage point, so the match with Oklahoma State’s Daton Fix went to overtime.

RBY caught Fix with a low single-leg takedown in overtime to get the 4-2 win.

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