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Penn State Wrestling: Previewing PSU’s 9 Big Ten Semifinal Matchups

There are 10 weight classes in college wrestling, and Penn State has nine representatives in the Big Ten semifinals.

If Carter Starocci were healthy, that number would be 10.

Alas, Penn State’s 174-pounder, who might be the top wrestler in the country at any weight class, is still recovering from an injury suffered in Penn State’s last dual meet of the season against Edinboro, and thus took an injury default in his quarterfinal matchup.

The other nine wrestlers Penn State has competing in College Park, Maryland, went a combined 14-0 in their matches and thus have advanced to the semis.

Of these nine semifinal matchups three are against wrestlers from the University of Michigan, three more are against Nebraska wrestlers, two are against Iowa Hawkeyes and another is against a Rutgers man.

Here’s a breakdown of all nine Penn State wrestling semifinal matchups.


No. 6 Braeden Davis (Penn State) vs. No. 7 Michael DeAugustino (Michigan)

Davis and DeAugustino have met before, and the true freshman Davis got a big win. The true freshman beat the sixth year senior 5-1 in Ann Arbor this past January. Now, Davis has a shot to win a conference title as a true freshman and will have to beat DeAugustino again to get there. Both wrestlers have momentum. Davis upset Wisconsin’s Eric Barnett, seeded third, with an 8-7 win in sudden victory. DeAugustino upset No. 2 Drake Ayala of Iowa in the quarterfinal, and with No. 1 Matt Ramos of Purdue falling to Rutgers’ Dean Peterson in the quarterfinal, today has been further proof that the 125-pound class is a wild world.


No. 5 Aaron Nagao (Penn State) vs. No. 1 Dylan Ragusin (Michigan)

Nagao and Ragusin wrestled in Ann Arbor this past January, and Ragusin got a late win in sudden victory. Nagao’s had an up and down first season at Penn State, coming into the conference tournament with a 10-4 record. But last season, Nagao, as a redshirt freshman, got hot in March, making it to the finals of the Big Ten championships and the semifinals of the NCAA championships, losing each match to Penn State’s Roman Bravo-Young. Nagao is one win away from getting back to the finals thanks two a pair of impressive wins. The No. 5 seed pounded No. 12 Andrew Hampton of Michigan State 11-0 in the first round, then held on for a 4-3 win over Nebraska’s Jacob Van Dee, seeded fourth, in the quarterfinals. Ragusin had a first-round bye than beat Minnesota’s Tyler Wells in a 6-2 decision.

This is a big deal for Nagao, who has a chance to avenge one of his losses and make it to the Big Ten championship bout.


No. 1 Beau Bartlett (Penn State wrestling) vs. No. 5 Sergio Lemley (Michigan)

Bartlett took on Lemley during that same dual meet, and had a tough time getting a 7-5 win. Two weeks later, Lemley majored then-No. 1 Real Woods of Iowa, 14-2. So this will be a tough one for Barlett. It looked like Bartlett would have a chance to wrestle Nebraska’s Brock Hardy, who knocked Bartlett out of contention for the Big Ten title last March. But Lemley beat Hardy, setting up a rematch.


No. 4 Tyler Kasak (Penn State wrestling) vs. No. 1 Ridge Lovett (Nebraska)

Although Kasak came close, Lovett ultimately got the better of him in a 7-3 defeat last month at Rec Hall

“I think he did well,” Penn State wrestling coach Cael Sanderson said after the dual meet. “It was a tied score in the third period. He’s close. I think he’s right there. He’s a freshman and he’s going to get better each match. He just needs more experience.”


No. 1 Levi Haines (Penn State) vs. No. 4 Jared Franek (Iowa)

These two wrestled in February at Carver Hawkeye Arena, and it wasn’t pretty for Franek. Haines dominated, winning a 12-0 major decision. Franek will need to make serious adjustments for a better result this time around.


No. 2 Mitchell Mesenbrink (Penn State) vs. No. 3 Mike Caliendo (Iowa)

Mesenbrink wasn’t quite as dominant in his 12-6 win over Caliendo that same night, but he was pretty close, almost majoring the North Dakota State transfer in his home arena. Now, Mesenbrink has a chance to win a Big Ten title at his first Big Ten championships. The Cal-Baptist transfer has had a great first season at Penn State and has continued that with a win in the Big Ten championships.


No. 3 Bernie Truax (Penn State wrestling) vs. No. 2 Lenny Pinto (Nebraska)

Kasak gave No. 1 Ridge Lovett all he could handle at 149. Bernie Truax did the same at 184. Truax, ranked No. 6, did the same with No. 3 Lenny Pinto. Truax ended up falling, 8-6, but had Pinto on his heels until the dying seconds, when he was denied what the Rec Hall faithful felt should have been a takedown. Truax has been in solid form since being pinned by Ohio State’s Ryder Rogotzke earlier this month, and although he fell short on the scoreboard, there’s reason to be encouraged heading into crunch time.


No. 1 Aaron Brooks (Penn State wrestling) vs. No. 4 Silas Allred (Nebraska)

Allred was the Big Ten champion at 197 last year. But back then, Brooks was competing at 184. Brooks is a three-time national champion, so, yeah, he’s the favorite.


No. 1 Greg Kerkvliet (Penn State wrestling) vs. No. 4 Yaraslau Slavikouski (Rutgers)

These two didn’t wrestle when Rutgers took on Penn State at the Bryce Jordan Center last month. Lucas Cochran filled in for Kerkvliet and beat Slavikouski. Kerkvliet should be just fine.

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