Nothing good ever happens in New Jersey.
Penn State wrestling proved that fact this weekend, taking forth at the Big Ten Championships behind Iowa, who ran away with the team title, Nebraska and Ohio State.
On a bright note, the Nittany Lions did win two individual championships and send five wrestlers into the finals. All five of whom are expected to compete for a spot in the NCAA finals in two weeks in Minneapolis.
Penn State also qualified seven wrestlers for the big show, and could yet get an eighth depending on the health status and potential wild card selection of Seth Nevills.
Neither Brandon Meredith nor Bo Pipher will head to Minnesota. Meredith won his opening match in a big upset over third-seeded Pat McKee of Minnesota, but couldn’t win a second match and failed to reach auto-qualifier status. Pipher, up a weight filling in for Brady Berge, went 0-2 on the weekend.
Up at 133, Roman Bravo-Young impressed by reaching the finals with wins over Sammy Alvarez of Rutgers and Austin Desanto of Iowa. RBY got the first takedown in his finals match with Northwestern’s Sebastian Rivera, but was ridden out in the third and lost 7-2.
Nick Lee also fell just short of his first Big Ten title. Lee, unsurprisingly, met Ohio State’s Luke Pletcher in the finals in a rematch of a contest that Lee won in the dual meet. This time is was Pletcher who delivered with a big third-period takedown for a 6-5 victory.
Jarod Verkleeren went 2-2 on the weekend and locked up a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Verkleeren lost his opening match to Yahya Thomas of Northwestern on the front side, but avenged that loss on a back side to qualify for a spot in Minneapolis.
We saw another rematch in the 165 finals as Vincenzo Joseph once against squared off with Iowa’s Alex Marinelli. Joseph very narrowly repeated history by catching Marinelli with a lat drop, but Marinelli was able to roll through and scored a takedown late in the third period to grab a 3-2 victory.
Penn State finally came out on the right side of a finals match at 174. In yet another rematch, Mark Hall took on Iowa’s Michael Kemerer. Hall scored on a single leg early in the match and then built a 7-1 lead in the second period with a takedown and set of back points. He closed it out from there to earn an 8-5 victory.
Aaron Brooks then doubled the fun up at 184. Brooks reached the finals with a major decision win over Minnesota’s Owen Webster in the quarterfinals and then a pin of Nebraska’s Taylor Venz in the semis. The pin over Venz gave Brooks some redemption for his lone loss of the year in the dual against the Huskers. In the finals, Brooks squared off with Michigan State’s Cam Caffey. The freshman’s constant pressure eventually paid dividends with a takedown late in the third period and he held on for a 3-2 victory.
At 197, Shakur Rasheed took fourth place after injury defaulting out to Jacob Warner in the third-place match. Rasheed upset Warner, 3-2, when the two met in the quarterfinals but then fell to Nebraska’s Eric Schultz in the semis.
Lastly, Nevills was injured in his opening match of he tournament and was forced to injury default out. His status going forward is unknown.