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Wrestling Preview: No. 3 Penn State at No. 1 Iowa

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The biggest dual of the year is here.

NCAA Wrestling: Wrestling Championships Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

This year’s Iowa team is its strongest, top to bottom, in a very, very long time - and is stronger on paper than any team from any school in a while, with ten wrestlers ranked in the top ten. Welp. It’s a tough lineup that’s demolished all top opponents they’ve faced so far this year, something that PSU fans are used to from our own squad but not what we’ve seen from this year’s Nittany Lion wrestlers.

Does Penn State have a shot? Well...I guess, of course they do, it’s wrestling and anything can happen. But PSU has only two sure wins out of the ten, and while I have Iowa down with only two sure wins as well, all of the bounces on paper look like they’ll likely go the Hawkeyes’ way. Couple that with a dual meet in Carver Hawkeye, and I think it’s best for us PSUers to keep our expectations reasonable for this very difficult Friday night dual, and look for wins and positives wherever we can get them.

Fun fact: Iowa has more wrestlers from PA (five) in their starting lineup than PSU does (three). Iowa has no wrestlers from Iowa in their starting lineup.

How To Watch

What: #3 Penn State* vs #1 Iowa

Where: Carver Hawkeye Arena, Iowa City, IA

When: Friday, January 31, 9 pm

Audio: Free, Jeff “Ironhead” Byers, via GoPSUSports

Video: BTN

Lineup

#3 Penn State WT #1 Iowa
#3 Penn State WT #1 Iowa
Brandon Meredith (Fr., Limerick, PA) 125 #1 - Spencer Lee (Jr., Murrysville, PA)
#3 - Roman Bravo-Young (So., Tucson, AZ) 133 #2 - Austin DeSanto (Jr., Exeter, PA)
#2 - Nick Lee (Jr., Evansville, IN) 141 #9 - Max Murin (So., Ebensburg, PA)
Jerod Verkleeren (Fr., Greensburg, PA) OR Luke Gardner (Jr., Pottsville, PA) 149 #3 - Pat Lugo (Sr., Homestead, FL)
Brady Berge (Fr., Mantorville, MN) OR Bo Pipher (Jr., Paonia, CO) 157 #5 - Kaleb Young (Jr., Punxsutawney, PA)
#1 - Vincenzo Joseph (Sr., Pittsburgh, PA) 165 #2 - Alex Marinelli (Jr., Miamisburg, OH)
#1 - Mark Hall (Sr., Apple Valley, MN) 174 #2 - Michael Kemerer (Sr., Murrysville, PA)
#9 - Aaron Brooks (Fr., Hagerstown, MD) 184 #6 - Abe Assad (Fr., Carol Stream, IL)
#18 - Shakur Rasheed (Sr., Coram, NY) 197 #7 - Jacob Warner (So., Tolono, IL)
#15 - Seth Nevills (Fr., Clovis, CA) 285 #3 - Tony Cassiopeia (Fr., Roscoe, IL)

125 LBS

Prediction: Lee by Tech Fall

Score: PSU 0, Iowa 5

133 LBS - Match of the Meet #1

Last year’s Friday night match in Pittsburgh between DeSanto and RBY was super exciting, and showed all of us RBY’s potential in collegiate competition. The Nittany Lion was not able to pull of the upset, but he did end up as an All-American, and is ranked higher this season. I expect this match to be super close with a late takedown or stalling sealing the victory, but I don’t think our young Roman gets the win in enemy territory. But he’ll get him when it counts, in Minneapolis later this year.

Prediction: DeSanto by decision

Score: PSU 0, Iowa 8

141 LBS

Max Murin is a top ten wrestler and Nick Lee will make it look easy, much like he did against Chad Red last week. Next week’s showdown against #1 Pletcher is where this regular season hinges for Lee; I’m tempted to pick bonus here, but momentum and home cooking will help Murin with a score closer than the bout feels

Prediction: Lee by decision

Score: PSU 3, Iowa 8

149 LBS

Verk got caught last week when he refused to give up two. It was a poor decision, and likely means Gardner will get the start this week. He should be raring to go, but it won’t be enough against Lugo, who doesn’t let up a takedown in this bout.

Prediction: Lugo by decision

Score: PSU 3, Iowa 11

157 LBS

Reports were that Brady Berge was almost ready to come back last week, but didn’t. Does that mean this week’s road trip is his first bout back from injury? it’ll be a good test for him, the first week that Berge’s inaction has resulted in him losing the high ranking he’d held all season.

Prediction: Young by decision

Score: PSU 3, Iowa 14

165 LBS - Match of the Meet #2

Prediction: Bull by decision

Score: PSU 3, Iowa 17

174 LBS

Do you guys ‘member when Kemerer had no tank against Nolf? I ‘member, and it’s no wonder he was perpetually gassed dropping so much weight. He’s doing much better this season at this weight, but yet again he’ll be going up against a PSU juggernaut. Mark Hall just wants it this year, and I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it again, with no Zahid on his schedule should demolish the field. Kemerer is number two but Hall dominates from start to finish, and ends up with over 2 minutes of riding time.

Prediction: Hall by decision

Score: PSU 6, Iowa 17

184 LBS - Match of the Meet #3

Aaron Brooks came out flat last week and it led to a disappointing loss at Nebraska. He dropped in the rankings, and his consolation prize is a chance to knock off fellow freshman phenom whose redshirt was pulled mid-season Abe Assad. This should be a good one, better than Brooks’s matchup with Venz (which I believe he’ll avenge, having learned from) with our guy coming out on top.

Prediction: Brooks by decision

Score: PSU 9, Iowa 17

197 LBS

Good Shak can beat anyone in this field. But is good Shak back yet? He’s struggled with getting caught in the past when not fully healthy, and sometimes gets in his own head. He’ll have a shot at this win late but will come up just shy.

Prediction: Warner by decision

Score: PSU 9, Iowa 20

285 LBS - Match of the Meet #4

For the second time this season, Seth Nevills had a PSU dual win rest on his shoulders and he came up big. This is a different week, though, and the Nittany Lions should be mathematically eliminated prior to heavyweight, provided the dual starts at the normal weight; this match, though, will provide a good barometer of where Big Snacks is and can be by the end of the season. It’s our second freshman vs freshman match of the night, and I’d be unsurprised if it goes to extra time.

Prediction: Cass by decision

Score: PSU 9, Iowa 23


*The Penn State athletic department, in its official capacity, uses Intermat Tournament Rankings in all its match literature; in those rankings, Penn State is #2, and Iowa is #1. I’m using Intermat’s Dual Meet rankings because this happens to be a dual.