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PSU moves four wrestlers into semis at NCAA Championships; Lions trail Iowa big

Photo by NCAA: Carter Starocci

Penn State advanced four wrestlers to the semifinals at the NCAA Championships on Friday in St. Louis, and the four will try this evening to move on to the finals in search of individual national championships.

The Nittany Lions’ four semifinalists are:

** Roman Bravo-Young (133)

** Nick Lee (141)

** Carter Starocci (174)

** Aaron Brooks (184)

Those four already have earned All-America honors, and three more still can do so in the consolation bracket: Brady Berge (157), Michael Beard (197) and Greg Kerkvliet (285).

In the team standings, Iowa leads with 73.5 points, while Penn State is second with 57.5. The Hawkeyes have five semifinalists, so they are in strong position to win the team national title.

The national semifinals will take place this evening at 8 o’clock and air on ESPN or ESPN2. We will recap all of the action, plus have analysis from Andy Stine, after the evening session is completed.

Here’s a recap for each wrestler, from GoPSUSports. These are the semifinalists:

133: Junior Roman Bravo-Young (Tucson, Ariz.), the No. 2 seed at 133, faced No. 10 Louie Hayes of Virginia in Penn State’s first national quarterfinal bout. Bravo-Young took a 2-0 lead with a takedown just over a minute into the bout.  He finished the period still in control and carried that lead, and 1:41 in riding time, into the second period.  Bravo-Young added a quick escape in the second to lead 3-0. Hayes picked up his lone point with an escape in the third and Bravo-Young added a riding time point to roll into the semifinals.  He also became a three-time All-American with the victory.

141: Senior Nick Lee (Evansville, Ind.), the No. 2 seed at 141, took on No. 10 Zach Sherman of North Carolina in the quarterfinals. Lee quickly took Sherman down and went to work on top, looking for tilts.  After three brief turns that Sherman rolled through, Lee cut Sherman loose to a 2-1 score with 1:10 in riding time.  Lee tacked on another takedown and got a two-point turn to lead 6-1 after one with over 2:00 in time. After a neutral start in the second, Lee quickly took Sherman down a third time to up his lead to 8-2.  He added a fourth takedown in the third period and, with 4:03 in riding time, advanced to the semifinals with an 11-3 major decision.  Lee became a four-time All-American with the victory as well.

174: Freshman Carter Starocci (Erie, Pa.), the No. 3 seed at 174, battled No. 6 Andrew McNally of Kent State in the quarters. Starocci and McNally tangled in the center circle for the two minutes with neither wrestler giving an inch.  Starocci drove in on a high single at the 1:00 mark and finished off a takedown to lead 2-0. He finished the period on top and led by two after one.  Starocci escaped to a 3-0 lead to start the second period. He added another takedown off a high single late in the period and finished on top once again to lead 5-0 after two. McNally chose down to start the third and Starocci controlled the action long enough to build up a 2:03 time edge.  The Kent State grappler added a late takedown but, with 1:54 in riding time, Starocci posted the 6-3 victory and advanced to the national semifinals.  Starocci also became an All-American for the first time with the win.

184: Sophomore Aaron Brooks (Hagerstown, Md.), the No. 1 seed at 184, met No. 8 Taylor Venz of Nebraska in the quarterfinals. Brooks turned a low shot into a scramble with 2:15 on the clock and bulled his way to a takedown and a 2-0 lead. The Lion sophomore kept control for :45 before Venz escaped to a 2-1 score.  The one-point lead held for Brooks after the opening stanza.  Venz chose down to start the second period and reversed Brooks for a 3-2 lead. Brooks quickly escaped and then immediately moved in for a takedown to lead 5-3 at the 1:04 mark. A strong ride allowed Brooks to kill the clock and he led by two after two. Brooks chose down to start the third, escaped and iced the bout with another takedown.  Nearly 2:00 of riding time made the final score 9-4 and Brooks moved into the national semifinals.  The two-time Big Ten Champion became a two-time All-American with the win as well.

And here’s a look at the other PSU wrestlers:

157: Junior Brady Berge (Mantorville, Minn.), the No. 12 seed at 157, met No. 4 Jesse Dellavecchia of Rider in his quarterfinal bout. Berge and Dellavecchia worked through over two minutes of wrestling on their feet until Dellavecchia got in on a high single with :50 on the clock.  Berge fought off the effort for a bit then was injured during the action as it moved to the mat.  The Lion junior was not able to continue and suffered an injury default loss, falling to the consolation bracket.

197: Freshman Michael Beard (Pottstown, Pa.), the No. 15 seed at 197, faced No. 26 Jake Woodley of Oklahoma in the quarterfinals. Beard fought off an early Woodley shot over the first minute, forcing a reset.  Woodley finished off a second takedown with a lift on the edge off the mat to lead 2-0 with 1:17 on  the clock.  Beard escaped to a 2-1 score and trailed by one after one.  He chose down to start the second period and escaped to a 2-2 tie. Woodley notched a second takedown, however, and Beard trailed 4-2 after two. Woodley chose down to start the third period and escaped to a 5-2 lead.  He added a final takedown and, while giving up a stall point, got a riding time point and posted the 8-3 win over the Lion freshman.  Beard’s loss sent him into consolation action.

285: Freshman Greg Kerkvliet (Grove Heights, Minn.), the No. 9 seed at 285, met No. 1 Gable Steveson of Minnesota in the last of Penn State’s seven quarterfinal bouts. Steveson notched the bout’s first takedown :30 into the match.  The Nittany Lion could not work his way free of Steveson’s control and trailed by two after the opening three minutes.  Steveson escaped to a 3-0 lead to start the second period and the bout moved to its midpoint with the wrestlers battling in neutral.  Trailing by three, Kerkvliet chose neutral to start the third stanza.  The Lion freshman took a high single at the 1:40 mark but Steveson countered the move and took a 5-0 lead with another takedown.  Steveson countered another Kerkvliet shot and took a 7-1 lead with :55 on the clock. Kerkvliet escaped and finished off a solid takedown as the bout ended but Steveson’s early work led to a 9-4 win.  The loss sent Kerkvliet into consolation action.

125: True freshman Robert Howard (Cranford, N.J.), the No. 23 seed at 125, took on No. 24 Fabian Gutierrez of Chattanooga in his first consolation bout of the tournament. Howard opened up the bout with a quick takedown to take an early 2-1 lead.  He worked the middle of the mat for the remainder of the period and led by one after one. Guiterrez reversed the Lion freshman to start the second period and maintained control until a last-second escape by Howard tied the bout at 3-3.  Howard chose down to start the third period and reversed the Moc.  He added two nearfall points but was reversed.  A stall point against had Howard up by one. The Lion freshman iced the win with another reversal and walked away with a 9-7 win.  He took on No. 15 Patrick McKee of Minnesota in the next consolation round. McKee connected on a single right off the opening whistle.  Howard fought off the move for a bit but the Gopher took a 2-0 lead with a takedown. Howard fought off two turns but was pinned at the 2:04 mark on the third effort by McKee.  The loss ended the freshman’s tournament with a 2-2 record. Howard went 7-6 as a true freshman this year.

165: Freshman Joe Lee (Evansville, Ind.), the No. 23 seed at 165, bowed out of the tournament on Thursday with two tough losses.  Lee, one of five freshmen to advance to NCAAs for Penn State went 6-7 this season.

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Written By

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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