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Wrestling Preview: No. 2 Penn State vs Northern Iowa, No. 11 Cornell

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The Nittany Lions head to Florida for the Journeymen’s Collegiate Duals!

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

The Penn State wrestling squad heads back to the mat, this time traveling south to be a part of a new event called the Journeymen’s Wrestling Duals in Florida. These Duals are a little bit different than what we’ve seen before (and JP has more on the format in his weekly column), but the gist of it is that after taking on Northern Iowa and Cornell, the Nittany Lions will wrestle Arizona State, Virginia Tech, or Hofstra on Tuesday night as part of the Blue Pool. And as much as some of us might wish otherwise, the Red Pool (consisting of Iowa, Lehigh, and Central Michigan on one mat and Missouri, NC State, and Binghamton on the other) and the Blue Pool will not wrestle each other - which means no additional in-conference duals.

The format is definitely interesting, and goes towards many in the sports’ goals of expanding dual meets and making them both more impactful, and more of an event. Let’s hope it goes off well, even if it appears there’ll be no official way to follow along without paying for the event though Rofkin. Thanks in advance to Bubba et al for any possible play by play here in the comment section of this and every other wrestling post! Edit: GoPSUSports has updated their Lionvision links to include Byers audio for these duals! Links updated below. There also is apparently a new (to me, anyway) live results site that will be updated: https://www.tournaflex.com/splat.asp?target=front.htm.

These are two very good matchups, and though Cornell may be depleted due to covid restrictions, we’ll go through these predictions assuming the best possible lineups for all teams. Let’s get to it!

How To Watch - Dual Meet 1

What: #2 Penn State vs Northern Iowa*

Where: Northwestern Florida State College, Niceville, FL

When: Monday, December 20, 7 pm

Audio: Free, via GoPSUSports

Video: Rokfin ($)

Lineup - Dual Meet #1

#2 Penn State WT Northern Iowa
#2 Penn State WT Northern Iowa
Brandon Meredith (Jr., Limerick, PA) OR Baylor Shunk (So., Centre Hall, PA) 125 #10 - Brody Teske (So., Duncombe, IA)
#1 - Roman Bravo-Young (Sr., Tucson, AZ) 133 #31 - Kyle Biscoglia (So., Waukee, IA)
#1 - Nick Lee (Sr., Evansville, IN) 141 #26 - Cael Happel (Fr., Lisbon, IA)
#22 - Beau Bartlett (So., Tempe, AZ) 149 #28 - Triston Lara (Jr., Fort Doge, IA)
Terrell Barraclough (So., Kaysville, UT) OR Joe Lee (So., Evansville, IN) OR Tony Negron (Jr., North Babylon, NY) 157 Derek Holschlag (Jr., La Porte City, IA) OR Evan Yant (Fr., Waverly, IA)
#26 - Creighton Edsall (Jr., Wyalusing, PA) 165 #23 - Austin Yant (Jr., Waverly, IA)
#1 - Carter Starocci (So., Erie, PA) 174 Lance Runyon (Fr., Pleasant Hill, IA)
#1 - Aaron Brooks (Jr., Hagerstown, MD) 184 #4 - Parker Keckeisen (Fr., Glendale, WI)
#3 - Max Dean (Jr., Lowell, MI) OR Michael Beard (So., Pottstown, PA) 197 Noah Glaser (So., New Hampton, IA)
#4 - Greg Kerkvliet (So., Grove Heights, MN) 285 #21 - Carter Isley (Sr., Albia, IA)

125 LBS

Teske spent a year in State College, where he by all accounts was tested by Meredith and Devin Schnupp. He left Penn State after the 2019/2020 season, and went closer to home in UNI. He should put his team on the board quickly though I expect it’ll be a fight no matter which Nittany Lion steps up to the mat.

Prediction: Teske by decision

Score: PSU 0, UNI 3

133 LBS

RBY looked pretty darn good in his last outing against Lehigh, despite sitting in the first dual of the weekend in Philly. I expect him to just get better as his final campaign in a PSU singlet keeps going.

Prediction: RBY by major decision

Score: PSU 4, UNI 3

141 LBS

Nick Lee is back to number one since Yianni officially moved up to 149 pounds, and I’m sure he’s disappointed. But I’m a fan, so I’m not - just clear the way for a repeat title. Wrestling a ranked freshman is another step on the way there.

Prediction: N. Lee by major decision

Score: PSU 8, UNI 3

149 LBS - Match of the Meet #1

Beau suffered his first loss of the season in the Lehigh dual, despite arguably showing more offense than in his prior wins. But the thing is - he was favored in that match, and lost. And when he’s been the lower ranked wrestler, he’s won. Which makes it seems like I’m going to pick Lara here, right? Nah, I think Beau gets a close one, within a point or two at the end, fending off a late challenge.

Prediction: Bartlett by decision

Score: PSU 11, UNI 3

157 LBS

If Negron looks as good this week as he did in the Lehigh dual, we might have even more of a cushion headed into the break. As it is, I’m going to be pessimistic here and give the Panthers another win halfway thru the dual meet.

Prediction: Holschlag/Yant by decision

Score: PSU 11, UNI 6

165 LBS

Prediction: Edsell by decision

Score: PSU 14, UNI 6

174 LBS

How many dudes will Carter Starocci body before the year is up? My guess is, all of them. I’d be very, very surprised if this bout lasts all seven minutes, and it might not even last five.

Prediction: Starocci by tech fall

Score: PSU 19, UNI 6

184 LBS - Match of the Meet #2

Northern Iowa’s only non-Iowan in the starting lineup only had one loss last year - to Brooks at the NCAA tournament. He’ll look to avenge that loss this weekend, but Aaron Brooks trains with David Taylor, so look for the returning champ to pull some more magic out of his hat.

Prediction: Brooks by decision

Score: PSU 22, UNI 6

197 LBS

Archery season is open, and in my opinion, this bout will either be a major decision with Max Dean winning by 9 or 10 points, or a pin within the first four minutes. Not much in between with the mismatch at this weight in this bout.

Prediction: Dean by major decision

Score: PSU 24, UNI 6

285 LBS

Kerkvliet was sidelined the last time the Nittany Lions wrestled, and though there was a chance he’d have gone in Philly (with Michael Beard ready to give up 80 pounds as his backup vs Lehigh), with the duals in the bag PSU forfeited both weights. Two weeks later, and by all accounts Kerk is better now - and how much better than he’ll be the rest of the season over most of the field will be a question somewhat answered this evening.

Prediction: Kerk by major decision

Score: PSU 28, UNI 6

Overall score prediction: PSU 28, UNI 6


How To Watch - Dual Meet 2

What: #2 Penn State vs #11 Cornell*

Where: Northwestern Florida State College, Niceville, FL

When: Monday, December 20, 9 pm

Audio: Free, via GoPSUSports

Video: Rokfin ($)

Lineup - Dual Meet #2

#2 Penn State WT #11 Cornell
#2 Penn State WT #11 Cornell
Brandon Meredith (Jr., Limerick, PA) OR Baylor Shunk (So., Centre Hall, PA) 125 Greg Diakomihalis (Fr., Rochester, NY)
#1 - Roman Bravo-Young (Sr., Tucson, AZ) 133 #5 - Vito Arujau (So., Syosset, NY) OR Dom LaJoie (Sr., Gaylord, MI)
#1 - Nick Lee (Sr., Evansville, IN) 141 Cole Handlovic (Fr., Bethlehem, PA)
#22 - Beau Bartlett (So., Tempe, AZ) 149 #1 - Yianni Diakomihalis (Jr., Rochester, NY)
Terrell Barraclough (So., Kaysville, UT) OR Joe Lee (So., Evansville, IN) OR Tony Negron (Jr., North Babylon, NY) 157 #25 - Colton Yapoujian (So., Byers, CO) OR Adam Santoro (Sr., Valhalla, NY)
#26 - Creighton Edsall (Jr., Wyalusing, PA) 165 #9 - Julian Ramirez (Fr., Miami, FL)
#1 - Carter Starocci (So., Erie, PA) 174 #12 - Chris Foca (So., Cliffside Park, NJ)
#1 - Aaron Brooks (Jr., Hagerstown, MD) 184 #15 - Jonathan Loew (Jr., Wantagh, NY)
#3 - Max Dean (Jr., Lowell, MI) OR Michael Beard (So., Pottstown, PA) 197 #19 - Jacob Cardenas (So., Kearny, NJ)
#4 - Greg Kerkvliet (So., Grove Heights, MN) 285 #18 - Lewis Fernandes (So., Tewksbury, NJ) OR Drew Flynn (Sr., Pompton Lakes, NJ)

125 LBS

Will the younger Diakomihalis brother have the same sort of freshman magic that Yianni did a few years ago? Jury’s still out (and Spencer Lee stands in his way), but he should start the scoring off for the Big Red tonight. Whomever the Nittany Lions send out will make it a close bout, but ultimately it won’t be enough.

Prediction: Diakomihalis by decision

Score: PSU 0, Cornell 3

133 LBS - Match of the Meet

Despite what wrestlestat might spit out, this weight is RBY’s to lose and he won’t go without a fight. Even if this is close in the third (and that’s a big IF when Roman’s athleticism is on display), the PSUer has been here enough times that he knows what it takes.

Prediction: RBY by decision

Score: PSU 3, Cornell 3

141 LBS

The only thing that would stop this match from getting bonus would be illness. Lee won’t get ridden out again while at full strength, and this one could very easily not last all seven minutes.

Prediction: N. Lee by major decision

Score: PSU 7, Cornell 3

149 LBS

Yianni’s up a weight this year, and so far hasn’t been quite as dominant as some expected. If he isn’t sidelined due to illness, I expect he’ll win but Beau will make it closer than is comfortable at the end.

Prediction: Yianni by decision

Score: PSU 7, Cornell 6

157 LBS

I expect whomever wrestled versus UNI to sit out this bout, so predicting Barraclough here. And while he’ll keep it close, the Ivy leaguer gets it done with a last second takedown.

Prediction: Yapoujian by decision

Score: PSU 7, Cornell 9

165 LBS

Jeff Byers has kept jinxing Edsell by talking about his win streak, but it shouldn’t be a problem after this bout. Edsell has preternatural confidence, but Ramirez is a legit title contender at this weight.

Prediction: Ramirez by decision

Score: PSU 7, Cornell 12

174 LBS

The last time these two met on the mat, Carter barely missed bonus (before he started wrestling attached). While Foca has gotten better, Starocci’s really gotten better. This shouldn’t be particularly close.

Prediction: Starocci by major decision

Score: PSU 11, Cornell 12

184 LBS

Leave it to Aaron Brooks to put Penn State back ahead. I think a late flurry keeps this bout from bonus, but Loew won’t ever really threaten to beat Aaron.

Prediction: Brooks by decision

Score: PSU 14, Cornell 12

197 LBS

Dean will face his former team for the first time tonight. Will there be bad blood? I’m expecting probably not, but this’ll be the perfect time for him to show off why he transferred, and what he’s learned in the NLWC room since coming to State College.

Prediction: Dean by major decision

Score: PSU 18, Cornell 12

285 LBS

The last time these two met, Kerk was wrestling unattached shortly after announcing his transfer from Ohio State to Penn State - and he beat Fernandes (also wrestling unattached) by decision. The Big Red grappler injury defaulted out of his last bout so may either not be 100% or Cornell Coach Mike Grey might send out a backup - and if it’s the latter, we may be looking at a pin here. Either way, it’ll be a capper and this bout will send PSU to the winning dual of the Blue Pool.

Prediction: Kerk by major decision

Score: PSU 22, Cornell 12

Overall score prediction: PSU 22, Cornell 12


*The Penn State athletic department, in its official capacity, uses Intermat Tournament Rankings in all its match literature; in those rankings, Northern Iowa is #22 and Cornell is #9. I’m using Intermat’s Dual Meet rankings because this happens to be a dual; Cornell is #1 in the dual meet rankings, and UNI is unranked. Penn State is ranked second in both rankings.