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Wrestling Preview: No. 3 Penn State vs American

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It’s senior day, aka the last time we will see Mark Hall and Cenzo Joseph compete in PSU singlets :(

NCAA Wrestling: Penn State at Iowa Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Off the heels of a BJC dual taking down highly ranked Ohio State, the Nittany Lions return to their home across campus for their final dual of the season, a senior day bout against American University. PSU has never wrestled American in a dual meet; AU is coming into State College fresh off a dual meet victory in Fairfax against George Mason (which saw the Patriots lose two team points for unsportsmanlike behavior).

As a DMV native, this humble blogger became a fan of the American program after watching David Terao make an improbable run to the podium at MSG - he knocked out #2 seeded Joey Dance in the second round before making it all the way to a semifinal bout against eventual champ, PSU’s Nico Megaludis, and eventually took fourth. David’s brother Josh also wrestled for American, exhausting his eligibility last season; the AU Eagles are feisty but only have one wrestler ranked by Intermat (the rankings we use on this here blog) this year.

Part of that reload includes a transfer from the Big Ten in former Wolverine Sal Profaci, who left Ann Arbor last offseason after having lost the starting position on that team. Profaci is one of three wrestlers on the AU roster who is ranked by the NCAA but not by Intermat.

This dual is a capper to a season that has seen some ups and downs, with the Nittany Lion squad surging at the right time, as is their wont, and a few Penn Staters returning to the lineup after near-season-long injury. Up next after this season ender is a not-long bus trip to New Jersey for the Big Ten tourney, followed by a trip to Minneapolis for the NCAA tournament. Hold onto your butts, wrestling fans!

How To Watch

What: #3 Penn State* vs American University

Where: Rec Hall, University Park, PA

When: Sunday, February 23, 2 pm

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

Video: BTN+

Lineup

#3 Penn State WT American
#3 Penn State WT American
Brandon Meredith (Fr., Limerick, PA) 125 Gage Curry (Jr., Pittsburgh, PA)
#2 - Roman Bravo-Young (So., Tucson, AZ) 133 Joshua Vega (Fr., Albuquerque, NM)
#1 - Nick Lee (Jr., Evansville, IN) 141 Sal Profaci (Sr., Monroe Township, NJ)
#17 - Jerod Verkleeren (So., Greensburg, PA) OR Luke Gardner (Jr., Pottsville, PA) 149 #8 - Kizhan Clarke (Jr., Gibsonton, FL)
Brady Berge (So., Mantorville, MN) OR Bo Pipher (Jr., Paonia, CO) 157 Ethan Karsten (Jr., Platte City, MO)
#1 - Vincenzo Joseph (Sr., Pittsburgh, PA) 165 Tim Fitzpatrick (Fr., Somers Point, NJ)
#2 - Mark Hall (Sr., Apple Valley, MN) 174 Conner Allshouse (Jr., Largo, FL)
#6 - Aaron Brooks (Fr., Hagerstown, MD) 184 Tanner Harvey (Jr., Elkton, OR)
#18 - Shakur Rasheed (Sr., Coram, NY) 197 William Jarrell (Fr., Lincoln, MA)
#17 - Seth Nevills (Fr., Clovis, CA) 285 Niko Camacho (So., Bethlehem, PA)

125 LBS

Prediction: Curry by decision

Score: PSU 0, AU 3

133 LBS

RBY is gunning for Seth Gross at the top of the podium this year, and while we know he can get the Badger next time, it may not be in NJ. This bout won’t last the full seven minutes, whether by technical or pinfall.

Prediction: RBY by tech fall

Score: PSU 5, AU 3

141 LBS

After Nick Lee wrested the number one ranking from Luke Pletcher following his domination on the mat last week, I’m expecting the PSUer to win out. Could Pletcher come back and beat Lee in one of their final two meetings? Of course, anything can happen - but mini Zain is on a mission this year. Profaci has no losses by bonus this year, but he hasn’t wrestled anyone of Lee’s calibre. They last wrestled two years ago, a regular decision for Lee; but he’s gotten immeasurably better since then. He’ll wrack up over 3 minutes of riding time.

Prediction: Lee by major decision

Score: PSU 9, AU 3

149 LBS - Match of the Meet

I was all set to predict a PSU loss at this weight, but then I saw that Clarke lost on Thursday night in VA. Does that mean that Verk will win? No, but he has rarely lost by bonus and if he keeps it close in the first, I like his chances to motor himself to a victory in the end. I think it’s a late (last thirty seconds) takedown that seals the upset.

Prediction: Verk by decision

Score: PSU 12, AU 3

157 LBS

Brady Berge was finally back in the lineup last week, after recovering from injury for most of the season. He started to shake the rust off but ultimately narrowly lost to Buckeye Quinn Kinner; I think his climb back to form continues this week, and he pulls out the victory despite looking a bit winded to close.

Prediction: Berge by decision

Score: PSU 15, AU 3

165 LBS

Prediction: Joseph by pin

Score: PSU 21, AU 3

174 LBS

Mark Hall will not lose his last dual meet in a PSU singlet, and the question here is whether or not he will be able to have a quicker fall than teammate Cenzo.

Prediction: Hall by pin

Score: PSU 27, AU 3

184 LBS

Aaron Brooks is arguably one of the biggest beneficiaries of Zahid Valencia’s suspension, though I’m sure he would prefer to go up against the returning champ. Brooks matches up well against nearly everyone else at this weight, and his march towards the podium his true freshman season continues today.

Prediction: Brooks by major decision

Score: PSU 31, AU 3

197 LBS

Shakur Rasheed is still not fully back to form, and was dominated by Moore last week. He’ll be fighting for a place on the podium and definitely does have a shot (what a turnaround from last year) but his slow and steady progression will need to pick up in the coming weeks.

Prediction: Shak by major decision

Score: PSU 35, AU 3

285 LBS

Nevills banged his knee up late in last week’s loss to “gastank Gary” (lol), and that may or may not have contributed to the final score. He has the talent to compete despite the crazy stacked weight class, and his confidence can use a boost starting with a dominating win this weekend.

Prediction: Nevills by decision

Score: PSU 38, AU 3


*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. I’m using Intermat’s Dual Meet rankings because this happens to be a dual; American is unranked in both metrics.