Cael Sanderson and his rowdy bunch of patchwork misfits rolled into the wild (mid)west over the weekend and came away with a pair of victories.
The first came at the expense of former Iowa State teammate Chris Bono, as the Nittany Lions impressed with a 29-10 victory over Wisconsin. They then trekked even further west to Minnesota, where Brandon Eggum and co. were dealt a 31-10 setback.
It appears Penn State is rounding into form just at the right time, with the B1G season-ender this weekend against Ohio State and the postseason not far behind.
We’ll take you weight by weight with a roundup of all this past weekend’s activities for the Nittany Lions.
125 - Brandon Meredith
Meredtih showed some good defense and solid scrambling against Badgers freshman Eric Barnett, who came in as one of the top recruits in the country, but he struggled to score and dropped a 4-0 decision. He then picked up a forfeit win against the Gophers.
133 - Roman Bravo-Young
If not for a pair of guys later on this list, I’d say RBY had the most impressive weekend of anyone on the team, despite going 1-1. On Friday, he squared off with top-ranked Seth Gross, the 2018 NCAA champion. Gross used an early counter takedown and splade to go up 4-0, but RBY continued to push the pace and fought all the way back to make it 6-5, coming close to the winning takedown on several occasions, including one that was just reaction time away from being given. Between the Desanto match and Gross match, Bravo-Young has shown he’s a true national title contender.
Against Minnesota, he fell behind 2-0 early and then beat the breaks off of Boo Dryden to the tune of a 23-8 tech fall in 6:29.
141 - Nick Lee
Your future 2020 NCAA champion continued to look incredible. First, Lee picked up some hard-earned revenge on No. 7 Tristan Moran of Wisconsin, pounding him for a 14-1 major decision victory that may not have even been that close. Then, he went into Minneapolis and crunched up No. 5 Mitch McKee in a cradle for the fall at 1:56. Lee has been phenomenal all season and I fully expect him to show why he’s the title favorite next week against Luke Pletcher.
149 - Jarod Verkleeren
It was a good weekend for the much-maligned Verkleeren. Against the Badgers he scored early and then hung on for a 3-2 win over Cole Martin, giving him a great win for his resume should he need an at-large selection next month. He then rolled in to Minnesota and came seconds away from beating sixth-ranked Brayton Lee. Unfortunately, he ran out of gas a bit at the end and needed to stay more aggressive, but if not for some home cooking with stall calls, Verkleeren may have had the win.
157 - Bo Piper/Luke Gardner
Something looked off with Pipher on Friday as he was majored by Wisconsin’s Garrett Model, 13-4. To that point, it was Gardner who bumped up and got the start against Minnesota, scoring first before ultimately falling to Ryan Thomas, 5-4. It appears Penn State will be without Brady Berge for the entirety of the season at this point, a huge hit to the Nittany Lions title hopes, but head injuries are not something to mess around with.
165 - Vincenzo Joseph
What a run Vincenzo is on right now. After dominating Isaiah Martinez and beating Alex Marinelli last week, our little meatball just kept on rolling this weekend. Friend of the site Garrett Carr and I both felt Joseph matched up well with fourth-ranked Evan Wick, but I don’t think even the most optimistic fan saw the a** kicking that he gave Wick coming. Cenzo racked up over four minutes of riding time in a dominating 8-0 major decision win. He followed it with a 14-5 win over the Gophers’ Bailee O’Reilly, who actually impressed a bit on his feet.
174 - Mark Hall
Hall has rebounded pretty well since the loss against Michael Kemerer. He pinned his opponent against Maryland last Sunday then decked Wisconsin’s Jared Krattiger on Friday. All-American Devin Skatzka proved a bit tougher on Sunday, but Hall looked in control throughout with a 7-4 win.
184 - Aaron Brooks
Brooks struggled a bit against 11th-year senior Johnny Sebastian on Friday, but still managed to pick up a 3-2 win. And a road win in the Big Ten as a true freshman is always a good thing. Additionally, there was some scuttlebutt about Sebastian being a little slicker than usual in the general leg area, something Penn State coaches pointed out to the referees. No worried, Brooks responded impressively and earned a 13-3 major decision win over the always tough Owen Webster of Minnesota on Sunday.
197 - Shakur Rasheed
Shakur looked better, but still seems just a step off. He topped Wisconsin’s Taylor Watkins 6-0 on Friday and then bested Garrett Joles 7-5 on Sunday. Wins are wins, but Rasheed needs to be putting bonus points on the board against that level of competiion. He’s not getting to his stuff on top and seems hesitant on his feet. The sixth-year senior may still turn the corner, but time is running out to do so.
285 - Seth Nevills
Seth received a forfeit on Friday with Trent Hillger out due to a head injury and the Badgers apparently not having a single soul they could run out at heavyweight...Alas, he returned Sunday and was faced with the prospects of wrestling Gable Steveson. Mid-way through the bout I found myself impressed with Big Snacks, who trailed just 4-2. Steveson, however, poured it on late for the 13-3 major decision. Nevills’ match against Gary Traub on Sunday should give us a really good indication of where he’s at and whether fans should consider him an All-American threat. Traub is 19-6 on the year with four losses to top-10 competition. He