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PSU Wrestling

Lions go 4-for-4 in finals as Lee, Brooks, Starocci, RBY win national titles

Photo by NCAA: Roman Bravo-Young

Penn State advanced four wrestlers to the NCAA finals Saturday night, and the Nittany Lions went a perfect 4-for-4 on a memorable evening.

Roman Bravo-Young (133), Nick Lee (141), Carter Starocci (174) and Aaron Brooks (184) each won individual national titles at the NCAA Championships in St. Louis.

Iowa won the team title, while the Lions’ great night in the finals locked up second place.

RELATED: Cael Sanderson press conference after NCAA finals

Check out video highlights below. Plus recaps for each champion, from GoPSUSports.

184: Brooks, the No. 1 seed at 184, battled No. 2 Trent Hidlay of North Carolina State in the last of four title bouts for Penn State. Brooks was the aggressor early, forcing Hidlay backwards over the course of the first minute.  The action continued in neutral for the next minute with neither wrestler finding an opening.  With the clock moving to the :30 mark, Brooks forced Hidlay into a first stall warning.  Tied 0-0, Brooks chose down to start the second period.  Brooks worked his way into control of Hidlay’s shoulders and turned him to his back for a reversal.  The Lion bench challenged for two back points but none were given and Brooks led 2-1 at the 1:30 mark.  Trailing by one, Hidlay chose down to start the third period. He escaped to a 2-2 tie at 1:40 and the bout continued in neutral. Brooks continued to pressure Hidlay in the center circle.  The Lion took a 3-2 lead on another Hidlay stall and the clock moved down to :30.  Brooks fought off a solid shot from Hidlay at the :20 mark and the North Carolina State bench challenged for a takedown. The no call stood and Brooks walked away with his first national title on the backs off a 3-2 win.  Brooks became Penn State’s 48th national champion.  He went 5-0 at the tournament with a technical fall.

174: Starocci, the No. 3 seed at 174, faced off against No. 1 Michael Kemerer of Iowa in the third finals bout for the Nittany Lions. Starocci battled the top-seeded Hawkeye in the center circle for the first minute-plus.  Kemerer dove in on a shot with 1:25 on the clock that Starocci countered and action moved back up to neutral as time moved below 1:00. Starocci worked in on a single that turned into a :30 scramble but the action ended in a stalemate and the bout moved to the second period tied 0-0. Starocci chose down to start the second period and quickly escaped to a 1-0 lead. The Lion freshman stalked the middle of the mat, keeping action on the NCAA logo while looking for an opening on offense.  Starocci worked his way in on a single leg with :15 and almost finished off the takedown, but time ran out on the Lion’s effort and he led 1-0 after two.  Kemerer chose down to start the third period and escaped to a 1-1 tie.  The third period ended with neither man scoring and, like his teammates before him, Starocci would need extra time to win his title.  And just like Bravo-Young and Lee, Starocci ended the match quickly in sudden victory.  He worked in on a high shot, gained control of Kemerer at the waist and took the Hawkeye down for the 3-1 (sv) win, becoming a national champion as a freshman.  Starocci became Penn State’s 47th national champion.  He went 5-0 at the tournament with a major and ends his first collegiate season with a 14-2 record.

141: Lee, the No. 2 seed at 141, met No. 1 Jaydin Eierman of Iowa in Penn State’s second straight NCAA title bout. Lee set a fast early tempo, working his way in on a series of single legs that Eierman was forced to fight off.  Lee’s pressure forced the Hawkeye out of bounds numerous times over the first minute-plus. Eierman worked his way in on a single with :25 left and this time Lee defended the shot.  Tied 0-0, Eierman chose down to start the second period and quickly escaped to a 1-0 lead. Lee fought off another Eierman shot at the 1:00 mark and action returned to the center circle. The duo finished the period on their feet and Lee trailed by one after two periods. Lee chose neutral to start the third period and quickly used a high single to take Eierman down and grab a 2-1 lead. Eierman escaped and the bout was tied 2-2 with 1:35 left in the match.  Lee upped the pressure ono Eierrman, forced him into a stall at :35 and then nearly connected on a low single.  Lee nearly won the bout in regulation with a late shot but Eierman’s defense killed the clock and the match moved into extra time. Like his teammate in the match before, Lee left no doubt in the extra period.  The Lion senior roared in towards Eierman early in the extra minute and finished off a high shot for a takedown and the win.  Lee’s 4-2 (sv) win earned him his first national title.  Lee became Penn State’s 46th national champion. He went 5-0 with two majors and a tech and finished the season 13-1.

133: Bravo-Young, the No. 2 seed at 133, met No. 1 Daton Fix of Oklahoma State in the first finals bout of the evening as the session began at 133. Bravo-Young fought off a Fix shot at the 1:50 mark to keep the bout scoreless and a reset sent action back to the center circle. Bravo-Young’s first shot was defended by Fix, a fast, low effort with :35 on the clock.  The duo finished the period and neutral and the first period ended in a scoreless tie.  Fix chose down to start the second stanza.  Bravo-Young controlled the action from the top, maintaining control for over 1:20, turning Fix briefly.  Fix rolled through but Bravo-Young maintained control and finished the period on top. Tied 0-0 but with 2:00 in riding time, Bravo-Young chose down to start the third period and Fix cut him loose to a 2-0 lead.  The official hit Bravo-Young with two quick stalls in the final :40 to give Fix two points and a one-point lead.  Bravo-Young’s 1:58 riding time sent the action to sudden victory tied 2-2. In the extra time, however, Bravo-Young left no doubt.  The Nittany Lion junior picked up his first national title with a fast, low double that tripped Fix to the mat.  Bravo-Young collected both the Cowboy’s feet and finished off the takedown for a 4-2 (sv) win.  Bravo-Young became Penn State’s 45th national champion.  He went 5-0 with a major and a tech fall and finished the season 14-0.

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Here are recaps for other PSU wrestlers in action Saturday, plus some notes from GoPSUSports.

197: Freshman Michael Beard (Pottstown, Pa.), the No. 15 seed at 197, finished off his tournament with a sudden victory win in the seventh-place bout during the prior session.  He ended the tournament with a 4-2 record that included three majors.  The freshman All-American closed out his first season with a 10-6 mark. Freshman Greg Kerkvliet (Grove Heights, Minn.), the No. 9 seed at 285, also won his final match of the tournament, taking seventh-place in the prior session.  Kerkvliet went 4-2 during his initial NCAA tournament run, including three majors and a tech fall. He went 10-4 over the course of the season and became a freshman All-American as well.

157: Junior Brady Berge (Mantorville, Minn.), the No. 12 seed at 157, was unable compete after being injured in the national quarterfinals ended his NCAA tournament run with a 2-1 record, including a major.  Berge went 10-3 this year. True freshman Robert Howard (Cranford, N.J.), the No. 23 seed at 125, went 2-2 at 125 and had his tournament end during session three. Freshman Joe Lee (Evansville, Ind.), the No. 23 seed at 165, went 0-2 in his first tournament appearance.

The Nittany Lions went a perfect 4-0 in the finals, marking the third time Penn State has had four or more national champions in one season since Sanderson’s arrival (five in 2017, four in 2018).  It is the second time Penn State was perfect in the finals when having four or more finalists (5-0 in 2017).

Penn State’s perfect final run gave the Lions a 31-9 final record here in St. Louis.  The Lions tallied 17.0 bonus points off 11 majors and four tech falls.  Penn State was also 4-0 in sudden victory bouts, including winning three in the finals. The Penn State now has 232 all-time All-Americans including this year’s six, with 69 of those coming in Sanderson’s 12 years. Lee is the 15th four-time All-American in Penn State wrestling history.  Bravo-Young is the 32nd three-time All-American in Lion history.

TEAM STANDINGS (top five)
1: Iowa – 129.0
2: PENN STATE – 113.5
3: Oklahoma State – 99.5
4: Arizona State – 74.0
5: Michigan – 69.0

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Cory Giger is a 15-year veteran of the Penn State beat and a journalist with 28 years of experience. He has won more than 100 state and national journalism awards during his career, plus he's a voter for the Heisman Trophy in football and Wooden Award in basketball.

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