In the NCAA Wrestling Championships’ final matches Saturday night, Penn State came away with all five of its finalists winning their matches.
The Nittany Lions have won 11 straight national championship final matches dating back to 2019. The five national champions is the most for Penn State since 2017, where it won five as well.
First up for the Nittany Lions was No. 1 Roman Bravo-Young taking on No. 2 Daton Fix of Oklahoma State in the 133-pound weight class. The meeting was a rematch from last year’s national title match that Bravo-Young won.
The match was tightly contested. Both wrestlers fought back and forth to gain momentum.
Bravo-Young scored first with a takedown of Fix to lead 2-0. Fix responded over the first two periods by staying calm and getting two escapes to tie the match at two going into the third period.
Starting in the down position to begin the third period, Bravo-Young escaped to take the lead 3-2. Bravo-Young kept Fix from getting a chance to take him down and even tried to get Fix on the mat consistently. He held on to the lead and won his second straight national championship.
The loss for Fix makes it the third straight year with a loss in the national championship final. Bravo-Young keeps his 36-match winning streak alive heading into next season.
Next for Penn State was No. 1 fifth-year senior Nick Lee, who was defending his national title against No. 15 Kizhan Clarke of North Carolina in the 141-pound weight class. Clarke beat No. 6 Cole Matthews of Pitt in the semifinal match Friday night.
Clarke came out firing in the first period, taking Lee down for an early 2-0 lead. Lee escaped to get a point back, but Clarke was taking control and made Lee uneasy.
Lee took control of the match after blood time by taking down Clarke to take a 3-2 lead going into the second period.
Lee had no trouble the rest of the way, starting with an escape in the second period, a takedown and getting a point for Clarke stalling.
He finished off Clarke in the third period, getting one more takedown and a point for riding time to win the match, 10-3. Clarke got a point for an escape at the end.
The third match of the night for Penn State had No. 1 sophomore Carter Starocci defend his title against No. 2 Mekhi Lewis of Virginia Tech in the 174-pound class. Lewis won the national title in 2019, making it a battle between the last two NCAA champions in that weight class.
After a first-period stalemate, Starocci opened the match with an escape.
Lewis responded with a takedown, which was initially ruled out until a coach’s challenge gave him the two points and the lead. Starocci got an escape to keep the score tied at two headed into the third period.
Lewis took the lead again with an escape early in the third period.
Starocci re-took the lead with a takedown, but Lewis managed an escape to tie the match at four and go into sudden death overtime.
Neither wrestler could get that winning point in the overtime, so it went to two 30-second periods to determine the winner.
Starocci got an escape to finally break the deadlock, and by keeping Lewis from getting an advantage on him, he built riding time. Lewis escaped late, but because Starocci had riding time, he won 6-5 to win his second straight national championship.
The next match for Penn State was No. 2 junior Aaron Brooks taking on No. 1 Michigan graduate Myles Amine in the 184 weight class, looking to defend his title like the three wrestlers before him. Brooks defeated Amine at their first meeting, but Amine got the better of Brooks in the Big 10 championship match, giving him his second conference title.
Brooks dominated Amine in this match, putting him on the mat constantly and taking control. Brooks took down Amine in the first period and held that two-point lead into the third period.
Brooks got a reversal in the third and led 4-0. Amine reversed Brooks and had a takedown late, but Brooks, like Starocci, had riding time to win his second straight title, 5-3.
The final match of the night was No. 1 junior Max Dean facing off against No. 6 Iowa senior Jacob Warner in the 197 weight class. Dean beat Warner in their meet back in January and both wrestlers were ready for another tough battle. Dean also made the national championship match back in 2019 when he was at Cornell, but lost that match.
Dean and Warner fought back and forth and were in a stalemate at the end of the first period. Warner opened up the match with an escape in the second period, a lead he took into the third period.
Dean tied the match at one with an escape of his own and then took the lead, 3-1, with a takedown of Warner. Warner got an escape late, but Dean held on to win his first National Championship.