You know those moments of greatness you witness sometimes where you don’t have any words so you just laugh?
Yeah, tonight was one of those.
Cael Sanderson and Penn State went into Columbus down two starters, backs against the wall, and absolutely brutalized the Buckeyes on the way to a 28-9 victory.
The night started out precariously with the news that Shakur Rasheed and Brady Berge would be out for the Nittany Lions.
On the opposite note, Roman-Bravo Young would make his return to the lineup at 133.
Speaking of 133, that’s where the match would begin after Tom Ryan opted to draw for the start weight.
Bad idea, Tommy.
Bravo-Young came up against returning All-American Luke Pletcher and looked good, if a bit hesitant, from the jump.
The two went into the third period tied at 1-1, both with escape points.
We then headed to sudden victory after a scoreless third. In the extra period Pletcher got in deep on a shot in the third, but the freshman phenom hit an elevator to kick out of it and stay tied at 1-1.
RBY got out early in the first tiebreaker period and then rode out Pletcher in second tiebreaker period to take home a 2-1 victory to give PSU a 3-0 lead.
That lead quickly became 2-0 after the Nittany Lions were docked a team point from Bravo-Young “spiking” his headgear.
With momentum on Penn State’s side, Nick Lee took to the mat to take on (previously) undefeated Joey McKenna in a rematch of a great one a year ago.
McKenna came out like a bull in a china shop and, to his credit, led 2-1 after the first period. He appeared set to remain undefeated after two when he led Lee 5-2, but McKenna would quickly learn his pace was unsustainable.
Lee escaped early in the third and quickly picked up a takedown of his own to make the score 5-5 with a minute remaining.
He then cut McKenna, giving the Buckeye a 6-5 lead, but stayed on him and finished a takedown with 30 seconds remaining and rode it out for a 7-6 upset victory. The win gave Penn State a 5-0 dual lead and all but killed any chance the Bucks had of pulling the upset.
Up at 149, Jarod Verkleeren delivered perhaps his best performance of the year against top-five ranked Micah Jordan. Jordan, like McKenna, took an early lead but faded late.
A Verkleeren takedown with 25 seconds left in the final period tied the match at 8-8 when the referee once again decided to get involved.
The official hit Verkleeren for a dubious (read: terrible) stall call that handed Jordan a 9-8 lead. From there, Verkleeren was forced to cut him and couldn’t track down the winning takedown, falling 10-8.
Jason Nolf quickly stemmed the tide for the Nittany Lions against No. 6 Ke-Shawn Hayes. Nolf dominated from start to finish and grabbed a 21-6 tech fall at the 5:51 mark to give Penn State a 10-3 lead in the dual.
Vincenzo Joseph closed out the first half of dual on style.
The two-time defending national champion rolled past Te’Shan Campbell for the second straight year to grab an 11-2 major decision win and give the Nittany Lions a 14-3 lead at the break.
After the break is was Mark Hall’s turn to dominate.
On a night where his biggest foe was pinned by Missouri’s Daniel Lewis (sup Zahid?), Hall would dominate.
The junior racked up five takedowns in a 12-4 major decision victory over No. 20 Ethan Smith, extending the lead to 18-3. A team violation then cost the Buckeyes a point to make the score 18-2.
Myles Martin helped Ohio State win back a little bit of its dignity at 184.
The national title favorite showed off an array of leg attacks to best Mason Manville, who was filling in for Rasheed despite weighing in at just 170 pounds, 18-6.
The most anticipated match of the night came at 197 where No. 1 and two-time defending NCAA champ Bo Nickal took on No. 2 and Kyle Conel hater, Kollin Moore.
It wasn’t long before Moore wound up in a familiar position, on his back.
Just over a minute in, Moore took an ill-advised shot and Bo did Bo things, locking up a cradle and securing the fall at the 1:38 mark to push Penn State’s lead out to 24-6.
Up at heavyweight, Anthony Cassar continued the bonus point barrage as he steamrolled Chase Singletary to the tune of an 18-8 major decision making it 28-6.
Lastly, Malik Heinselman grabbed a 7-4 decision win over Devin Schnupp at 125, bringing the final team score to 28-9.
The Nittany Lions ended up taking seven of 10 matches and dominated the takedown battle. It was, undeniably, their best performance of the year and, given the circumstances, maybe the best of their now 56-dual winning streak.
133: #15 Roman Bravo-Young PSU dec. #6 Luke Pletcher OSU, 2-1 (TB)
141: #7 Nick Lee PSU dec. #2 Joey McKenna OSU, 7-6
149: #3 Micah Jordan OSU dec. Jarod Verkleeren PSU, 10-8
157: #1 Jason Nolf PSU tech fall #6 Ke-Shawn Hayes OSU, 21-6 (TF; 5:51)
165: #1 Vincenzo Joseph PSU maj. dec. #12 Te’Shawn Campbell OSU, 11-2
174: #1 Mark Hall PSU maj. dec. #18 Ethan Smith OSU, 12-4
184: #1 Myles Martin OSU maj. dec. Mason Manville PSU, 18-6
197: #1 Bo Nickal PSU pinned #2 Kollin Moore OSU, WBF (1:38)
285: #4 Anthony Cassar PSU maj. dec. #19 Chase Singletary OSU, 18-8
125: Malik Heinselman OSU dec. Devin Schnupp PSU, 7-4