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Wrestling Preview: No. 3 Penn State vs Sacred Heart, No. 23 Oregon State (Tri Meet)

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year—wrestling season!

NCAA Wrestling: NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

For a team that crowned a surprising four national champions last season, the Penn State Nittany Lions have a surprising amount of uncertainty in their lineup for what looks to be the first full season of wrestling in a few years. A decided underdog in the team race to last year’s champion, Iowa, perhaps Carter Starocci (the team’s most unexpected returning national champ) said it best in the above-linked media days:

With the additions of world silver medalist Sarah Hildebrandt’s younger brother, Drew, a transfer from CMU, and Gabe Dean’s younger brother, Max, a transfer from Cornell? Maybe there are fewer question marks, and lineup holes, than some are predicting.

Something fun about this opening weekend’s duals? IMar is an assistant at Oregon State. I’m still wondering how he’s feeling about a second loss to our little meatball, three years later.

How To Watch - Dual Meet 1

What: #3 Penn State* vs Sacred Heart University

Where: Spooky Nook Sports Complex, Manheim, PA

When: Saturday, November 13, 5 pm

Audio: Free, via GoPSUSports

Video: Rokfin ($)

Lineup - Dual Meet 1

#3 Penn State WT Sacred Heart
#3 Penn State WT Sacred Heart
Brandon Meredith (Jr., Limerick, PA) OR Baylor Shunk (So., Centre Hall, PA) OR Drew Hildebrandt (Sr., Granger, IN) 125 Sean Faraon (Sr., Paramus, NJ)
#1 - Roman Bravo-Young (Sr., Tucson, AZ) 133 Anthony Petrillo (Sr., Livingson, NJ)
#2 - Nick Lee (Sr., Evansville, IN) 141 Jordan Carlucci (So., Franklin, MA)
Beau Bartlett (So., Tempe AZ) 149 Shaun Williams (Gr., Danbury, CT)
#24 - Joe Lee (So., Evansville, IN) OR Terrell Barraclough (So., Kaysville, UT) 157 Nick Palumbo (Andover, NJ)
Alex Facundo (Fr., Essexville, MI) OR Creighton Edsall (Jr., Wyalusing, PA) 165 Cole McGill (So., Kingstown, RI)
#1 - Carter Starocci (So., Erie, PA) 174 Scott Jarosz (So., Roxbury, NJ)
#1 - Aaron Brooks (Jr., Hagerstown, MD) 184 Joe Accousti (Sr., Newtown, CT)
#4 - Max Dean (Jr., Lowell, MI) OR Michael Beard (So., Pottstown, PA) 197 Dante Del Bonis (Sr., Cranston, RI)
#5 - Greg Kerkvliet (So., Grove Heights, MN) 285 Mark Blokh (Sr., Brighton, MA)

125 LBS

Prediction: Howard by decision

Score: PSU 3, SHU 0

133 LBS

The only people who were surprised when RBY “upset” Daton Fix in last year’s finals were ones who hadn’t been paying attention. Bravo-Young is an electrifying wrestler and this year will be his swan song.

Prediction: RBY by tech fall

Score: PSU 8, SHU 0

141 LBS

Poor Nick Lee just never gets the respect he deserves; for the second year in a row, he starts the year at number two. At least this year, he’s behind another returning national champ in Yianni Diakomihalis, unlike last year when Jaydin Eierman got the nod ahead of him without the same reasoning. Nick does well when he’s underestimated, and his final season in the blue and white will start with a bang.

Prediction: N. Lee by pin

Score: PSU 14, SHU 0

149 LBS

Count me among those disappointed that Beau Bartlett didn’t make the NCAA tourney last year as an at-large. I mean, I understand it—I was just disappointed. This year he won’t let it be a committee decision.

Prediction: Bartlett by decision

Score: PSU 17, SHU 0

157 LBS

Berge’s shoes will be big to fill at 157—not in a Nolf-like way, but because of how resilient Brady was in the face of continued adversity. Joe Lee will bump down to this weight (with his younger brother one of the others vying for time) and will look to be the more consistent wrestler we know he can be.

Prediction: Lee by decision

Score: PSU 20, SHU 0

165 LBS

Prediction: Facundo by major decision

Score: PSU 24, SHU 0

174 LBS

Carter Starocci will win this match, it probably won’t ever be in doubt though at points it might feel as though it is.

Prediction: Starocci by decision

Score: PSU 27, SHU 0

184 LBS

Aaron Brooks will win this match, it probably won’t ever be in doubt and won’t ever feel like it is.

Prediction: Brooks by fall

Score: PSU 33, SHU 0

197 LBS

Michael Beard ended the season really strong last year—but if you’re Cael Sanderson and Gabe Dean contacts you asking if there’s a place for Max, what are you to say? This would be an interesting wrestle-off, but Dean’s the clear favorite.

Prediction: Dean by major decision

Score: PSU 37, SHU 0

285 LBS

Kerk must’ve been one who was supremely disappointed when Gable Steveson announced he was coming back. He’s clearly one of the best at this weight—but Gable’s in a class above. Kerk rolls until the big ten tourney.

Prediction: Kerk by pin

Score: PSU 43, SHU 0

Overall score prediction: PSU 43, SHU 0


How To Watch - Dual Meet 2

What: #3 Penn State vs #23 Oregon State

Where: Spooky Nook Sports Complex, Manheim, PA

When: Saturday, November 13, 7:30 pm

Audio: Free, via GoPSUSports

Video: Rokfin ($)

Lineup - Dual Meet 2

#3 Penn State WT #23 Oregon State
#3 Penn State WT #23 Oregon State
Brandon Meredith (Jr., Limerick, PA) OR Baylor Shunk (So., Centre Hall, PA) OR Drew Hildebrandt (Sr., Granger, IN) 125 Brandon Kaylor (So., Bonney Lake, WA)
#1 - Roman Bravo-Young (Sr., Tucson, AZ) 133 #20 - Devan Turner (Sr., Dixon, CA) OR Jason Shaner (Jr., Hood River, OR)
#2 - Nick Lee (Sr., Evansville, IN) 141 Grant Willits (Jr., Pueblo, CO)
Beau Bartlett (So., Tempe, AZ) 149 #24 - Cory Crooks (Gr., Anthem, AZ)
#24 - Joe Lee (So., Evansville, IN) OR Terrell Barraclough (So., Kaysville, UT) 157 #15 - Hunter Willits (Jr., Pueblo, CO)
Alex Facundo (Fr., Essexville, MI) OR Creighton Edsall (Jr., Wyalusing, PA) 165 Matthew Olguin (Fr., Fresno, CA)
#1 - Carter Starocci (So., Erie, PA) 174 Mateo Olmos (Jr., Imperial Beach, CA) OR Mason Reiniche (Fr., Soddy Daisy, TN)
#1 - Aaron Brooks (Jr., Hagerstown, MD) 184 Jackson McKinney (So., Vancouver, WA)
#4 - Max Dean (Jr., Lowell, MI) OR Michael Beard (So., Pottstown, PA) 197 JJ Dixon (So., Tacoma, WA) OR Ryan Reyes (So., Fresno, CA)
#5 - Greg Kerkvliet (So., Grove Heights, MN) 285 #24 - Gary Traub (Gr., Cincinnati, OH)

125 LBS

While I think whomever starts at 125 for Penn State starts the night off well, I’m less optimistic about the second dual of the day. If it’s Howard that goes, it should be close, but the OSU wrestler will pull it out in the end.
Prediction: Kaylor by decision

Score: PSU 0, OSU 3

133 LBS

Less of a question, of course, is our acrobatic returning champ at 133. Though his opponent is the second highest ranked wrestler in Oregon State’s lineup, RBY shows him why he’s the champ pretty early on (and if it’s Shaner who goes instead of Turner for the Beavers, I don’t think he lasts the full seven minutes).

Prediction: RBY by major decision

Score: PSU 4, OSU 3

141 LBS

Nick Lee will continue to do Nick Lee things, and make his opponents wish they had given up wrestling before this bout. The Willits twin this Lee brother will face was the Pac 12 champ last year, but this is Nick Lee we’re talking about after all. He pulls away at the end, with a td in the last 20 seconds that puts him up by bonus.
Prediction: N. Lee by major decision

Score: PSU 8, OSU 3

149 LBS

Cory Crooks was at Arizona State before transferring to OSU this past off season, and he was tech falled and pinned by Nick Lee when the Sun Devils and the Nittany Lions had their dual meets in 2019 and 2018, respectively. Obviously Beau Bartlett is not yet at Nick Lee’s level, but the fact that Crooks is ranked and Bartlett is not may light a fire under the PSUer.
Prediction: Beau by decision

Score: PSU 11, OSU 3

157 LBS - MATCH OF THE MEET

The other Willits twin is favored in this bout against the middle Lee brother, and this should be a good one. As an early test and underdog, how Joe Lee faces adversity here should give us a good idea of where this year is going to go for him. As for a prediction? Well, let’s go full Gulibon.
Prediction: Willits by decision

Score: PSU 11, OSU 6

165 LBS

Without seeing Facundo wrestle yet this year, I truly have no idea how this one’s gonna go. But I’m liking what I’m reading so far, so go big when it’s an unknown, right? How about going not so big?

Prediction: Facundo by decision

Score: PSU 14, OSU 6

174 LBS

I just have a feeling that Starocci uses his propensity at winning in extra time last year into a full season where he doesn’t need extra time to dispatch his opponents. That dominance starts this weekend.

Prediction: Starocci by major decision

Score: PSU 18, OSU 6

184 LBS

Last year, Aaron Brooks was my pick for the first fall of the year, and I was wrong (hi Joe Lee!). This year, he makes up for it and makes me a happy Cari.
Prediction: Brooks by fall

Score: PSU 24, OSU 6

197 LBS

I think Max Dean responds really well to his coaching/team change this offseason, and comes out on fire. A statement day for the Cornell transfer.

Prediction: Dean by major decision

Score: PSU 28, OSU 6

285 LBS

Another transfer into the Beaver program, Traub traded one OSU for another and faces a wrestler who at one point looked to be his successor in Columbus at heavyweight. It’s funny how things turn out, but it won’t be funny how Kerk dominates Traub.
Prediction: Kerk by major decision

Score: PSU 32, OSU 6

Overall score prediction: PSU 32, OSU 6


*The Penn State athletic department, in its official capacity, uses Intermat Tournament Rankings in all its match literature; in those rankings, Oregon State is unranked. I’m using Intermat’s Dual Meet rankings because this happens to be a dual; Oregon State is #23 in the dual meet rankings. Penn State is ranked third in the dual meet rankings, and #2 in the tournament rankings.