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Wrestling: How Can Roman Bravo-Young Reverse His Big Ten Tourney Loss to Iowa’s Austin Desanto?

Penn State Freshman Roman Bravo-Young could face Iowa’s Austin Desanto in the NCAA second round next Thursday night. How can he reverse his last result?

Penn State Freshman Roman Bravo-Young enters his first National Championship Tournament.
Sam Janicki

A few weeks ago, we teamed up with Go Iowa Awesome’s RossWB to prognosticate what might happen if Penn State and Iowa actually wrestled each other this year, and we were both highly interested in the hypothetical 133 pound bout between Penn State’s Roman Bravo-Young and Iowa’s Austin Desanto.

Both Ross and I picked Desanto to win the matchup. Here’s what I wrote then:

JP: This would be hands down my favorite bout of the meet, ahead of even Bull-Cenzo. Both these guys have looked amazing this year! I still can’t believe how pedestrian DeSanto made Suriano look. His tank has been a sight to behold--and would definitely be a problem for RBY.

Conversely, I’d be immensely curious to watch DeSanto respond to Bravo-Young’s quickness. He was destroying Austin Gomez with it early in the first (8-1), before getting jacked up into double underhooks, chucked & decked. The worst part of that result was that it was in the semis of the Southern Scuffle, and it deprived us of a look at RBY against Daton Fix in the finals. Then later against Purdue, in an avoidable acrobatic attempt to cartwheel out of a single leg, he twisted his knee, took a seedings-unfriendly injury default loss to Thornton, and deprived us a look at him against the Serbian Sickle, Stevan Micic the next week. So, yeah, 133 is deep and dope, but we’ve missed a couple oppties to see how RBY stacks up against that dopeness. Hopefully we’ll get to see the IRL version of this hypothetical dual matchup against DeSanto in two weeks at B1Gs. For now, I’ll take the Hawkeye.

Then, this past weekend, our hypothetical bout became reality at the Big Ten Tournament.

RBY dropped a fairly convincing Decision to Ohio State’s Luke Pletcher in the Quarterfinals, and then advanced to the Consolatiion Semifinals with a Major Decision win over Wisconsin’s Jens Lantz and a Decision win over Illinois’ Dylan Duncan. Desanto dropped into the consolations after a Semifinals loss to Nick Suriano, and our bout was on.

It started out terribly for the Penn State Freshman.

Here’s the first period play-by-play scoring provided by BSD Hero, bubba0077, who has clearly trained to peak for the postseason, and provided us all with live-threaded pbp scoring of every Penn State bout in the conference tournament.

2019 133-pound Big Ten Consolation Semifinals: Roman Bravo-Young vs Austin Desanto, first-period scoring.

Desanto ragdolled RBY to the tune of 4! first period takedowns. Let’s take a look at them.

Desanto Takedown 1

Desanto’s go-to takedown is that barrel roll dump or fireman’s carry that starts with his own right hand vice-gripping his opponent’s left arm triceps. From there, with his left arm underhook, he can either drop it to the opponent’s right leg and dump from there, or shoot it between the legs and finish with a traditional fireman’s carry.

But either finish begins with his left-arm vice grip, and he was only getting started using it against RBY.

Desanto Takedown 2

In TD2, his grip was deeper into the armpit and its strength totally negated any leverage RBY hoped to apply with his sprawl, after Desanto again dropped in on the near right leg.

Desanto Takedown 3

Here Desanto switched up the leg attack, crossing over to attack the far left leg, and it was so deep that he finished with his left shoulder behind RBY’s left hamstring, and he no longer needed the leverage of the left hand - right arm triceps grip.

He just put a little more umph into the dump, and RBY had to again bail to his belly.

Desanto Takedown 4

In this last first-period takedown, Desanto, perhaps bolstered by the confidence of success, abandoned the vice-grip early, opting to use his right arm as a post after going back to the left leg attack.

RBY, with both hands free to assist his leg defense, attempted a Jesse Delgado ankle dive, but when he couldn’t hold onto the ankle, it was back to the belly and back to conceding another takedown.

With time ticking down, Desanto finished the ride instead of granting RBY a 4th escape point, and the period ended with the Hawkeye in what looked like an insurmountable lead at 8-3.

Second Period

After an explosive Desanto escape to start the second period, Bravo-Young began experimenting.

First, after a half-shot ended in the uncomfortable position that got him in so much first-period trouble, he tried using both his hands on the mat to post up and change some of Desanto’s leverage.

It may have helped him get a better feel for Desanto’s general leverage in neutral.

After that, Bravo-Young got back to some of his own strengths and operated more from space, darting in and out and generally moving his feet much more.

Then, when Desanto got back in on his ties, RBY first succeeded in controlling that problematic right hand, with good wrist control. And then he just removed his left arm from the equation altogether!

It looked ridiculous, but it did appear to briefly fluster Desanto, who countered by attempting a Russian Tie on the one arm RBY did allow him, and then dropped into a double-leg attempt on the wide open legs.

But with his left arm more free during that Desanto attempt, RBY’s ankle pass succeeded in a scramble that ran out of time.

Although he allowed no new Desanto takedowns in the period, the escape and a second stall call for fleeing made the score 10-3 heading into the third.

2019 133-pound Big Ten Consolation Semifinals: Roman Bravo-Young vs Austin Desanto, second-period scoring.

Period Three

So what did RBY learn in that second period?

First, he found a way to keep that left arm free from the danger it brought in period one. Second, he found a way to operate more from space, a position of strength for him. And third, with that now-freed left arm, he seemed to settle in a bit more comfortably from a leverage standpoint, in physical positions that Desanto had mauled him with during that first period.

After closing to within 6 points with an escape, he utilized those strategies to counter a Desanto shot that did not include a lock of RBY’s left arm. With his free arms and by keeping his feet moving, he invited Desanto into a scramble and spun around on top of him for his first takedown.

After cutting him, he got slowed again by Desanto ties, but he never allowed himself to get in real danger.

And he also again got back to his own strengths and attacked from space, with moving, quick feet that resulted in his second takedown.

Unfortunately, he was out of time.

2019 133-pound Big Ten Consolation Semifinals: Roman Bravo-Young vs Austin Desanto, third-period scoring.

Final Takery

The final scoring tally shows Desanto with 4 takedowns, 2 escapes, a stalling point and a riding time point. Bravo-Young finished with 2 takedowns and 4 escapes.

Desanto very obviously mauled him mercilessly in period one, but RBY learned, experimented, and improved across the next two periods! He got the bleeding stopped, settled into a more comfortable feel in tough situations, and finished by scoring his own offensive points.

To reverse the final score and outcome, he’ll need to do more of those things that brought him success.

First, he’ll obviously have to avoid going into such a deep hole. The second two periods demonstrated he’s capable of doing that. He’ll have to keep that left arm free during Desanto ties, and he’ll have to keep his feet moving and attack from space. Probably with more effort and more frequently, if he hopes to take a lead of his own.

Neither wrestler had much success with long rides. Desanto’s RT point came mostly from the volume of takedowns he earned in that first period and, granted, he was cutting RBY willfully then. But in the third, he could have benefited from a long ride, but RBY escaped and then scored on his own.

So a rematch will be won or lost in neutral. Penn State’s young freshman is gaining experience on the regular, and in that Big Ten Consolation Semifinal, he appeared to do so throughout the bout!

If both gentlemen win their first round bouts in Pittsburgh this Thursday morning, we’ll get to see a rematch on Thursday night.

Adjustments are one of the many things that make this sport so great, and I absolutely cannot wait to see what these two come up with.