In a ferocious fight in the Land of Burroughs, the Nittany Lions prevailed on the strength of dominant Major Decision wins by Nick Lee & Roman Bravo-Young, and a clutch, dual-clinching shutout by rising star heavyweight Seth Nevills.
The Huskers have a tough team, with good breadth across ten weights, and their fans showed up to watch the raised stage.
Before the match, I had trouble envisioning 6 wins for the Huskers, even against this hodge-podge Lion lineup that is still trying to find its way into March. Or, even 5 bout wins and more Bonus Points, typically Penn State’s domain. That was, until...Jarrod Verkleeren got stuck by Collin Purinton in the 149 pound bout. Then I was worried.
But Senior Leader Mark Hall restored balance at 174, by implementing some amazing team wrestling, and pinning #6 Mikey Labriola. Tight decision losses at 184 and 197 set the table for the Nevills to close the final door.
Penn State won the takedown battle 12-8, and there were fights up and down the lineup. Let’s take a look.
125 Alex Thomsen DEC Brandon Meredith, SV-1, 3-1; Nebraska, 3-0
- Lots of hand fighting
- Big wrap on Meredith’s left leg
- Stall #1 on Meredith
- Thomsen chose bottom, quick E1
- More fighting
- Meredith out at 1:30, 1-1
- Meredith on a lefty hi-c, Thomsen with a crotch lock, to stalemate after a 30 second scramble
- Trading shots, but no finishes
Sudden Victory 1
- Thomsen with a tight body lock, powers through for the winning TD
Meredith had a good chance for his first Big Ten win, but couldn’t pull it out.
133 #3 Roman Bravo-Young MD #13 Ridge Lovett, 11-3; PSU 4-3
Lovett is a TRFR 4x undefeated Idaho state champ, 169-0. Lost to Seth Gross, then Austin Desanto, to start his B1G career against the top-3 wrestlers in the country. Majoring in Biological Science & Pre-Med.
RBY 4x undefeated Arizona state champ.
- Beautiful low single by Lovett, that RBY turns into a scramble for TD1
- Quick escape from Lovett & reattack to another scramble and stalemate
- Video review removed the escape and reset the clock to
- Lovett quickly out at restart, 2-1 again
Period Two, 0-2
- RBY chose neutral
Ridge Lovett, a true freshman, has now wrestled 3 top 10 guys in Gross, Desanto, and RBY all in a row, and none of them has chosen bottom. #Respect— Jordan Burroughs (@alliseeisgold) January 25, 2020
- :25 left RBY wins a big scramble for TD2
- Hangs on after two restarts without allowing the escape
Period Three, 4-1
- Lovett down
- RBY stall #1 after riding the leg to a 5-count
- Would be nice to see some of that top riding Byers has been saying RBY has been working on
- Cuts him, 4-2
- Lovett is strong
- Stall #2 for RBY, 4-3 (RT = 1:35 for RBY)
- Slick single, but Lovett walks it out before RBY can finish
- HUGE TD#3 & locked cradle, nearly stuck him, bit of a roll-through by Lovett, as time expires
- 2TD + 4NF + 1RT = 11-3 Major for RBY!
141 #2 Nick Lee Major Decision #8 Chad Red, 9-1; PSU 8-3
Nick Lee TRJR, 11-0. Red 11-4 this year, 59-29 in career.
3:32 in RT finish
- Head outside single on right leg, for TD#1
- Now a heavy ride, working hard on the right side, right wrist, 1:30 in RT
Period Two, 2-0
- Lee down, stands, but can’t get away, Stall #1 on Red
- Lee out, 3-0
- Lee looking for the right leg, but drops in on the left for TD#2, 5-0
- Another period ride out, 1:57 RT
Period Three, 5-0
- Red chose down, interestingly
- Stall #2 on Red, 6-0, RT assured
- Looks like Lee can’t decide which is more dominant, a shutout or a Major
- Finally cuts him, 6-1
- Easy drop onto the right leg, on an extremely gassed Chad Red
149 #14 Collin Purinton WBF Jarrod Verkleeren, 5:50; Nebraska 9-8
This was Verk’s first shot at a ranked opponent, and... ugh.
Tonight’s version of the enigmatic Verkleeren showed a frustrating loss of concentration that resulted in a late-bout pin.
- Sloppy, slow, half-shot by Verk, results in a reattack by Purinton for TD#1, 0-2
- Verk out, 1-2
- Brief opportunity for a knee-pick, but nothing doing
- Period ends with dancing but no shots
Period Two, 1-2
- Purinton chose down
- Pretty quickly out, 1-3
- Byers, sounding a bit like a broken record: Verkleeren needs to pull the trigger here
- Instead, the period ends with lots of tie-ups and a fake half-shot here and there
- Verk chose down
- E1 Verk, quickly out, 2-3
- A takedown, with no rideout ties it
- Purinton in on a low ankle, Verk with an unathletic & stubborn scramble, from his back, ends with a quick pin call
157 #11 Peyton Robb DEC Bo Pipher, 5-3; Nebraska, 12-8
Byers announced that Bardy Berge did make the trip to Lincoln, but again reiterated that there is no timetable for his return.
Interestingly, he added that there might be a wrestle-off here soon, between Pipher & Luke Gardner, which indicates that Verkleeren may have established control of 149, perhaps also by wrestle-off? If anyone has news, or rumors, or prognostications, please share!
I’ve been curious all season what Pipher might look like at 149. I wonder if Byers’ news about Gardner coming up to 157 might allow for Pipher to descend and challenge Verk?
- Robb quickly in on the left leg for TD#1, 2-0
- Robb got too high trying for Nearfall, and Pipher fought through for the Reversal, rode final seconds, 2-2
- Robb chose down
- Great scrambles!
- Pipher fought off a reversal attempt, but eventually succumbed, 2-4
- Pipher chose down
- Stall #1 on Pipher
- Robb too bigg & strongg
165 #1 Vincenzo Joseph DEC #5 Isaiah White, 5-1; Nebraska 12-11
- White with a shot!
- In the first 15 seconds!
- Joseph’s cement hips stood him right up, for nothing
- Cenzo drops in on the right leg, reaches across for TD#1
- White quick E1, 2-1
- White chose down
- Cenzo big breakdown, flattens him out
- Working on the right wrist
- Stall #1 on White
- Another breakdown to the belly!
- Cenzo looking fierce, with a heavy full-period rideout
Period Three, 2-1
- Cenzo down
- E1, 3-1 (plus 2mins of RT)
- White does not want to wrestle
- Swings a big club, backs up
- Stall #2 on Cenzo shot, 4-1
- Add RT, 5-1
174 #1 Mark Hall WBF #6 Mikey Labriola, 6:52; PSU, 17-12
Mark Hall’s got your back, Verk!
- An errant tie up attempt landed on Labriola’s face, Hall offered a hand shake apology, mid-live-action, Labriola accepted it with a dap
- Hall TD#1 waived off after Mark Manning challenge & review
- Hall duck under attempt stuffed by Labriola
- Hall drops to the right leg, hard scramble, but finally awarded TD#1, 2-0
- Hall chose down
- Labriola tried to throw in a leg, but Hall used it to lift the ankle and finish a Reversal, 4-0
- Hall wrist control to a tilt, but ended in a crab ride and no near fall
- Husker coaches shouting something, and Labriola lifts his hands in exasperation; face suggesting: “what can I do?”
Period Three, 4-0 (1:39 RT)
- Labriola down
- Hall cuts, 4-1
- Hall in on a single for TD#2, 6-1
- On restart cuts him, 6-2
- TD#3, cuts him and THEN A JASON NOLF SPECIAL: dives into a cradle on a tired opponent, locks it up and gets the pin!
A major decision wouldn't have been enough. A tech fall wouldn't have been enough. Penn State needed a pin from Mark Hall, and the senior delivered.— NCAA Wrestling (@ncaawrestling) January 25, 2020
That's what they do at Penn State! pic.twitter.com/QE8KWrUnT0
184 #8 Taylor Venz DEC #6 Aaron Brooks, 9-5; PSU 17-15
Brooks with lots of right knee tape. I erroneously thought a Brooks Major might be in the cards in this one. Not sure what I was remembering, maybe Rasheed controlling Venz pretty easily at Big Tens last year on one knee? But Venz is fierce, he competes hard, and he looked a good bit stronger than Brooks as this one played out.
- Brooks quickly on right leg for TD#1
- Quick Venz escape
- Venz in on a leg, but Brooks defended with a crotch lock, long scramble, Brooks with an amazing fight to deny the TD, end up OOB, with no TD called, when Nebraska challenge brick arrives
- No TD call stands
- Whoa, absolutely skrong and quick throw-by pancake by Venz, 2-3
- Brooks out quick, 3-3
- Brooks head inside single, to double, another amazing scramble ends in no points!
Period Two, 2-1
- Venz chose down
- Quick E1, 3-4
- Brooks throwing a few clubs during tie-ups
- Brooks shot on left leg, whiffs
- Venz in on a shot, Brooks with a whizzer, but too much weight on him, gives up Venz TD#2, 3-6
- Brooks chose neutral
- Venz in on a shot, Brooks can’t defend, TD#3, 3-8
- Venz RT assured
- Brooks gets a reversal, but can’t lock the cradle
- Great fight from each grappler!
197 #8 Eric Schultz DEC #19 Shakur Rasheed, 3-1; Nebraska 18-17
- Heavy tie-ups, but no shots
- Schultz with a body lock, got behind, but Rasheed stood strong, ending OOB, no points
Period Two, 0-0
- Schultz chose down
- Very quick E1, 0-1
- Schultz working his double underhooks, but no dice
- Schultz looking more physical, but Rasheed staying with him in center mat
- Schultz drops in on a double and gets TD#1 with :01 left in the period
Period Three, 0-3
- Rasheed down
- E1, 1-3
- I think Schultz might be too savvy for Rasheed to pull this off
- Period ends
285 Seth Nevills DEC #13 Christian Lance
First ranked opponent for Nevills, and he handled it with calm.
- Nevills 263.7
- Lance 258.0
- Math: Nevills outweighed this opponent by 5.7 pounds
- Tense, tentative tie-ups
- Under a minute left, Nevills starts to move his feet a bit more, but no real shots
Period Two, 2-0
- Lance chose down
- Lance to his feet multiple times, but Nevills returns him each time
- Excellent right elbow control by Nevills
- Another stand, another mat return!
- Full-period rideout!
- Nevills down
- Quick E1, 1-0
- Lance in on right leg, but big fight from Nevills to stop it
- Lance backs off the mat, for Stall #1
- RT assured!
- Shot from Lance, stall warn #1 on Nevills, he snaps down and spins around for TD#1 and the bout & dual win!
- RT 2:11
Want to talk about clutch? @pennstateWREST freshman @NevillsSeth stepped up in a way, securing a late takedown for a 4-0 win and a Nittany Lion victory. @GoPSUsports | @FloWrestling pic.twitter.com/LCdUBnzfVW— Penn State On BTN (@PennStateOnBTN) January 25, 2020
The Takery (Not Much Takery)
Man, this was a battle. Wins by PSU vets RBY, Nick Lee, Cenzo, Hall and newbie Seth Nevills. Tough, tight losses by still-high-potential-postseason candidates Brooks and Rasheed. And hard-fought losses by probably overmatched Meredith & Pipher, followed lastly by the disappointing pin given up by Verkleeren.
With the even bout split, and the traded pins by Hall & Purinton, the final margin was provided via RBY’s & Nick Lee’s Major Decisions. So it was a good team win, something to rally around during the grind of the Big Ten Dual Season.
But there remain as many questions as answers, even here at the midpoint of the season, after a 7-1 team dual meet record.
What will this team look like next week when the Lions travel to Iowa to battle the Hawkeyes? I can barely guess, so until then, let us know what you think.