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Penn State Downs Rutgers, 27-11, in Brady Berge’s Return

Photo by Penn State Athletics: Brady Berge

Fans were delighted to see the return of Brady Berge to the lineup on Sunday evening. Wrestling a weight higher than last year at 165 pounds, Berge got the Rec Hall crowd into the match with a 5-1 victory. The Berge win jump-started the second half for the Nittany Lions, who were down 11-6 at the midway break, to a 27-11 victory over Rutgers on a snowy night in State College.

Berge, who was serving as a volunteer assistant coach at South Dakota State before deciding to return to State College a few weeks ago, earned a pair of takedowns and an escape in the win. He plans on returning to South Dakota State after this season when he’s out of eligibility.

“Brady is a great kid and comes from a great family,” said Nittany Lion head coach Cael Sanderson. “Obviously, he’s a very talented wrestler. He’s been a gamer for us. He’s been clutch in big moments. Things really haven’t gone his way. He’s kind of pushed through those things. When he’s got knocked down, he gets back up.

“I think it was kind of a blessing for him to step away from the sport and get into coaching. I know he loves what he’s doing at South Dakota State. We’re thankful he decided to come back here and pursue his dream and his goals. He can coach for the next 50 years if he wants, but you only have a short window to compete. We’re hopeful things go his way.”

Berge’s win cut the deficit to two points with four bouts left, and the remaining four for Penn State recorded a pin, a technical fall, a major decision, and a decision.

What’s next for Edsell?

With the return of Berge, Creighton Edsell was bumped from the lineup as the starter at 165 from the start of the season. It remains to be seen where Edsell will go from here, but Sanderson said he doesn’t believe Edsell is certified at 157 pounds, so a drop in weight is likely out of the question.

“He made a big-time lifestyle change to get down to 165 in the first place,” said Sanderson. “He did a great job. He got his weight down and changed his body this summer. Most guys wait till the last second. He’s done a great job. He’s came back after halftime before and won close matches.”

Tough loss for Bartlett

Beau Bartlett nearly ended his match in regulation with a late takedown at 149 pounds which would have given him the win. No points were awarded, and the match turned into a marathon for Bartlett and Rutgers’ Michael VanBrill.

After over 11 minutes of wrestling, VanBrill had four seconds of riding time on Bartlett with Bartlett still needing to go down in a 30-second rideout period. Had Bartlett been ridden out, VanBrill would have won the match.

Instead, Bartlett elected to go neutral and awarded a point to VanBrill. Bartlett couldn’t get a takedown, and VanBrill won the match, 4-3.

Sanderson said he is in favor of the new rules, even though it didn’t work out for the Lions in this bout.

“Beau had a lot of chances to win that match,” said Sanderson. “It’s a good learning process for him, and now he knows how things go in overtime. This should be a valuable experience for him.”

Road trip

Penn State, which is now 11-0 on the season, will have a road trip all next weekend in Michigan. They will be at Michigan on Friday at 6 p.m. before going to East Lansing for a 1 p.m. match on Sunday afternoon at Michigan State.

The Michigan dual will be televised on the Big Ten Network.

MATCH SUMMARY

125 – Still new to the Nittany Lions, ninth-ranked Drew Hildebrandt seemed a little more lethargic on Sunday than he did in two dominating wins last weekend over Maryland and Indiana. Then again, it was also a pretty good opponent in Rutgers’ No. 31 Dylan Shawver. Shawver got the iniital takedown in the first period, but Hildebrandt got an escape point each in the first and second period. Shawver took neutral to start the third period, but it backfired on him as Hildebrandt was awarded a takedown at the buzzer to take a 4-2 win. After an officials’ review, the takedown at the end of the third period was upheld.

133 – The return after a one dual meet absence for top-ranked Roman Bravo-Young was an impressive one. It sure didn’t damage his conditioning at all. Bravo-Young made the 20th-ranked Joseph Olivieri look like a beginner. Bravo-Young used three first period takedowns, a second period reversal, and another takedown in the third plus two minutes of riding time to get an 11-5 win. Olivieri fought off another takedown at the end to avoid a major decision.

141 – Penn State announced prior to the dual meet that Nick Lee would be missing another match due to a positive Covid test. It was the second Sunday in a row that Lee missed. But it was also another opportunity for Brandon Meredith, however it was against a very formidable opponent in No. 3 Sebastian Rivera. Quite simply, Meredith was overmatched as he gave up a technical fall. It’s a shame Lee was unable to go on Sunday. A match with Lee and Rivera would have been interesting.

149 – Beau Bartlett talked to media this week about still being young in wrestling experience. He still only has about 25 college matches under his belt. Bartlett was pretty evenly matched on Sunday with Rutgers’ Michael VanBrill. VanBrill had to fight off another takedown at the buzzer, which was reviewed, to send the match into overtime. Bartlett once again was close to a takedown in the two-minute sudden victory period, and nearly had VanBrill on his back, but no points were awarded. After 12 minutes of wrestling, it was VanBrill that got the 4-3 win after Bartlett elected to start neutral on a 30-second rideout period. The crowd was pretty displeased at the end of this one.

157 – Tony Negron has taken a stranglehold on the 157-pound starting job. Sunday was one of his better efforts so far this season. He took a 4-1 lead after the first period, but after being ridden out in the second, and Rutgers’ Robert Kanniard getting an escape and a takedown in the third, there was another overtime match for the second bout in a row. In overtime, Kanniard got a quick takedown to get the 6-4 win. Penn State trailed 11-6 at the break.

165 – Fans were treated to the return of Brady Berge. Berge retired last season after a devastating ACL injury in the NCAA Tournament, but decided to return for his senior season a few weeks ago. Berge was serving as a volunteeer assistant coach at South Dakota State prior to deciding to return. Although he’s wrestling up a weight class from last year, he showed no real signs of rust in a 5-1 victory over the Scarlet Knights’ Andrew Clark.

174 – Rutgers’ regular starter was unavailable, so they had backup Connor O’Neill taking on a national champion in PSU’s Carter Starocci. Starocci was the buzzsaw that he always is in a 19-2 technical fall of O’Neill. The tech gave the Lions the lead back at 14-11.

184 – As far as regular season matches go, this one will be one of the bigger ones that Aaron Brooks will face all season against fifth-ranked John Poznanski. Brooks said last week that he reviewed film between Poznanski and Indiana’s D.J. Washington last week in preparation for Washington. He likely put some things in his back pocket for Poznanski. At the end, Brooks was impressive as usual in a 10-2 major decision over Poznanski.

197 – It was another top 10 matchup at 197 as No. 2 Max Dean of the Nittany Lions had an in-state match with Rutgers’ No. 7 Greg Bulsak. Bulsak is a native of South Park, just outside of Pittsburgh. Bulsak gave Dean all he could handle as he had a 6-3 lead in the second period. Dean got a takedown in the second period, and an escape period to start the third. Dean also got a takedown in the middle of the third period to take an 8-6 lead. He had to stave off a late reversal attempt, but Dean got the 9-6 win with just over a minute of riding time. The win sealed the dual meet victory for Penn State.

285 – Much like Starocci’s match, PSU heavyweight Greg Kerkvliet was handed a backup in Alex Esposito. Kerkvliet ended the meet with an exclamation point with a fall of Esposito in 1:45 on a deep cradle.

Penn State 27, Rutgers 11

125 – Drew Hildebrandt (PSU) dec. Dylan Shawver (R), 4-2. (3-0)

133 – Roman Bravo-Young (PSU) dec. Joseph Olivieri (R), 11-5. (6-0)

141 – Sebastian Rivera (R) tech. fall Brandon Meredith (PSU), 17-1 3:36. (6-5)

149 – Michael VanBrill (R) dec. Beau Bartlett (PSU), 4-3 TB2. (6-8)

157 – Robert Kanniard (R) dec. Tony Negron (PSU), 6-4 OT. (6-11)

165 – Brady Berge (PSU) dec. Andrew Clark (R), 5-1. (9-11)

174 – Carter Starocci (PSU) tech. fall Connor O’Neill (R), 19-2 4:25. (14-11)

184 – Aaron Brooks (PSU) maj. dec. John Poznanski (R), 10-2. (18-11)

197 – Max Dean (PSU) dec. Greg Bulsak (R), 9-6. (21-11)

285 – Greg Kerkvliet (PSU) pinned Alex Esposito (R), 1:45. (27-11)

Extra match

157 – Terrell Barraclough (PSU) maj. dec. Al DeSantis (R), 10-1.

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