Battle with Iowa
There probably isn’t much of a disagreement that the battle for the Big Ten championship will likely be between the Nittany Lions and Iowa. Interestingly enough, out of the four champions I predicted for Penn State, I believe that three of them will face an Iowa foe in the finals.
Roman Bravo-Young and Austin DeSanto of Iowa at 133, Nick Lee and Jaydin Eierman at 141, and Carter Starocci and Michael Kemerer at 174 all could be set up for the finals. With how close the race is projected to be, the team championship very well could be decided on those three contests if they all come to fruition in the earlier rounds.
Champion prediction update
I’m going to stick with my four picks I made last week to win Big Ten Championships for Penn State in Roman Bravo-Young (133), Nick Lee (141), Carter Starocci (174), and Aaron Brooks (184). Bravo-Young and Brooks are top pre-seeds in their respective weights, while Lee is second and Starocci is third.
Session 1 will consist of first round and quarterfinal matches on Saturday at 10 a.m. The second session will begin at 7:30 p.m. with semifinal matches and wrestlebacks. On Sunday, Session 3 will kick off at noon with consolation semifinals and seventh place matches. The championship bouts, third place, and fifth place matches will begin at 4 p.m. for the final session.
All sessions can be found on the Big Ten Network this weekend.
LISTEN: Previewing the tournament with Andy Stine on “Sports Central with Cory Giger” on WRTA in Altoona
Penn State wrestling got a big lift to their championship hopes for both the Big Ten Tournament and the NCAA Tournament when heavyweight Greg Kerkvliet was cleared to wrestle for the Maryland dual meet.
The fact that Kerkvliet was inserted in the starting lineup immediately over Seth Nevills, who was doing a fine job as Kerkvliet’s replacement with a 4-1 record, should tell you all you need to know about the talent that Kerkvliet brings to the table.
Kerkvliet enjoyed a nice start with two falls in the Maryland dual meet and with an extra match under his belt. But fans will find out the million dollar question very quickly – just how does the Ohio State transfer stack up against the rest of the rugged heavyweight bracket in the Big Ten?
Kerkvliet was given the No. 7 pre-seed, and the other six heavyweights in front of him are all incredibly talented. The first three seeds at heavyweight – Minnesota’s Gable Steveson, Michigan’s Mason Parris, and Iowa’s Tony Cassioppi – are also the first three in the InterMat rankings. Kerkvliet is sixth in the rankings, and the rest of the Big Ten has four more in the InterMat Top 20.
Assuming that Kerkvliet will remain the No. 7 seed, which history tells us that pre-seeds are rarely different from actual seeds in the tournament, that would mean that Kerkvliet would likely have to wrestle all three of the first three seeds.
If it all would line up correctly with the highest seeds advancing, Kerkvliet would meet Parris in the quarterfinals, Cassioppi in the semifinals, and finally Steveson in the finals should he make it that far. Talk about running through the gauntlet. He would definitely have the toughest road to a championship if he somehow shocked everyone in Big Ten country.
Sometimes it’s just best to be thrown in the fire like Kerkvliet will be this weekend. It doesn’t get much tougher than that.