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Wrestling Preview: No. 2 Penn State at Penn

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The Nittany Lions are back in action on the mat, and now up to #2 in every poll!

NCAA Wrestling: Wrestling Championships Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

The PSU wrestling team is back in action, and now solidly in #2 across all polls—after starting off the year at #3 in intermat’s dual rankings. Also moving up in the polls in the last two weeks the Nittany Lions have been off is Nick Lee—for the first time in a Penn State singlet, the returning National champ is ranked number one, with Yianni Diakomihalis’ bump up to 149 lbs for the rest of the season (sorry, Beau Bartlett!).

For their first Friday/Saturday dual split, PSU heads to the historic Palestra to take on the Penn Quakers—and their new volunteer coach, one Mark Hall (who joined fellow Penn Stater and Associate Head Coach Bryan Pearsall on staff this off-season). It should be another good early test for much of the PSU lineup, as Penn is well-coached and boasts multiple ranked grapplers on their roster. This will be the first dual meet since February 2020 for Penn (the Ivy League didn’t allow sports due to the pandemic), though they did win the Keystone Classic two weeks ago.

Let’s get to the good stuff!

How To Watch

What: #2 Penn State* vs UPenn

Where: The Palestra, Philadelphia, PA

When: Friday, December 3, 7 pm

Audio: Free, via GoPSUSports

Video: ESPN+ ($)

Lineup

#3 Penn State WT Penn
#3 Penn State WT Penn
Brandon Meredith (Jr., Limerick, PA) OR Baylor Shunk (So., Centre Hall, PA) 125 Ryan Miller (Fr., Stroudsburgh, PA) OR Blair Orr (Sr., Aston, PA)
#1 - Roman Bravo-Young (Sr., Tucson, AZ) 133 #12 - Michael Colaiocco (So., Sparta, NJ)
#1 - Nick Lee (Sr., Evansville, IN) 141 #28 - Carmen Ferrante (Jr., Newtown, NJ) OR CJ Composto (So., Westfield, NJ)
#20 - Beau Bartlett (So., Tempe, AZ) 149 #23 - Anthony Artalona (Jr., Seffner, FL) OR Kaya Sement (Fr., Chester, NJ)
Terrell Barraclough (So., Kaysville, UT) OR Joe Lee (So., Evansville, IN) 157 Doug Zapf (Jr., Downington, PA)
#32 - Creighton Edsall (Jr., Wyalusing, PA) 165 #33 - Lucas Revano (So., Belmar, NJ)
#1 - Carter Starocci (So., Erie, PA) 174 #21 - Nick Incontrera (Fr., Flemington, NJ)
#1 - Aaron Brooks (Jr., Hagerstown, MD) 184 Neil Antrassian (Sr., Temperence, MI) OR Maximus Hale (So., West Chester, PA)
#4 - Max Dean (Jr., Lowell, MI) OR Michael Beard (So., Pottstown, PA) 197 Cole Urbas (So., Port Matilda, PA)
#4 - Greg Kerkvliet (So., Grove Heights, MN) 285 Ben Goldin (Jr., Orlando, FL)

125 LBS

I was very close to picking Shunk here, but Miller is good and while he’s favored, Shunk will not go down easily. I expect the bout will set the tempo of the dual and be close, a few early takedowns by the Quaker will be too much for a flurry of late-third-period heroics by Shunk.

Prediction: Miller by decision

Score: PSU 0, Penn 3

133 LBS

Colaiacco is a legitimate All-American contender (and likely EIWA championship contender) but he’s running into a buzzsaw with returning champ RBY. This one just barely should stay out of bonus, but the PSUer is the aggressor and setting the high tempo from the jump.

Prediction: RBY by decision

Score: PSU 3, Penn 3

141 LBS

Lee sat out of Penn State’s last dual but expectations are that this was purely precautionary and he should be back en force to start competing as the number one dude at 141. He’s taking on an NCAA qualifier in Ferrante, but this one should be, for all intents and purposes, over pretty quickly.

Prediction: N. Lee by major decision

Score: PSU 7, Penn 3

149 LBS - Match of the Meet #1

Bartlett has quietly moved up the rankings after back-to-back upsets of still-ranked wrestlers, and will gain confidence in his offense as the weeks go by. He’s already demonstrated how tough he is on top—-it’s his neutral offense he’ll be working on and that work starts to pay off on Friday.

Prediction: Beau by decision

Score: PSU 10, Penn 3

157 LBS

Barraclough wasn’t able to compete at first this year due to purported illness, and finally got the start (after a reportedly dominant in-squad wrestle off) vs Army. It wasn’t the result he wanted, but he’ll have another shot at a big time win when he faces off against a ranked, NCAA qualifying foe. I think he’ll keep it close but Zapf gets a late td and ride out to stave off the PSU comeback.

Prediction: Zapf by decision

Score: PSU 10, Penn 6

165 LBS - Match of the Meet #2

Freight on has quietly put together a 3-0 record, and finally appears in the rankings. He’ll get another test this week, and I expect this one to feel a lot more dominant than the final score shows.

Prediction: Edsell by decision

Score: PSU 13, Penn 6

174 LBS

If Carter truly is the most improved wrestler on the squad this year, this bout may not last the full seven minutes. Incontrera will have a respectable career day obviously benefits from Mark Hall in the wrestling room, but he’s got a really tall task in this one.

Prediction: Starocci by major decision

Score: PSU 17, Penn 6

184 LBS

I still get the impression that Aaron is ready to take his wrestling to the next level—showcasing why he was so highly touted and an NCAA title favorite in his freshman, Covid-shortened season. This should be over pretty quickly.

Prediction: Brooks by tech fall

Score: PSU 22, Penn 6

197 LBS

New Penn Stater Dean takes on a PSU hometown boy from State High. Urbas, one of Penn’s co-captains, is a likely NCAA qualifier—but Dean is a possible NCAA finalist. Archery season should be open for this one, with Dean really impressing.

Prediction: Dean by fall

Score: PSU 28, Penn 6

285 LBS

Wrestlestat has this as a comparatively low-scoring win for Kerk, but I just don’t see it. He’s been impressive so far against heavyweights not named Steveson, and that’ll continue this week.

Prediction: Kerk by major decision

Score: PSU 32, Penn 6

Overall score prediction: PSU 32, Penn 6


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