Penn State survived another week of pandemic testing protocols and successfully traveled with a full lineup to Columbus to face the rebuilding Buckeyes. They took 7 of 10 bouts, dominated the takedown battle, 23-3, and came home with a very satisfying 28-12 beatdown of their hated rivals.
125 #10 Malik Heinselman DEC Robbie Howard 5-2; OSU, 3-0
Howard out for bout two in his PSU career, Heinselman looking to prove he’s improved this year.
- Cagey ties and setups
- Mostly at center mat
- Heinselman out early
- Heinselman a smooth takedown with seconds left, 0-3; brutal outcome for Howard at the end of the period
- TD2 for Heinselman, after a scramble he won with a crotch lift & danger for two NF, 1-5
- Howard out, 2-5
- Two shots by Howard, easily stuffed by Heinselman, who looked patient and tough
133 #3 Roman Bravo-Young TF Jordan Decatur, 26-8 (5:37); PSU, 5-3
- RBY with a single, gets the leg, but great Decatur defense
- Patient, RBY finishes with a double after 20 seconds
- Decatur a nice sit-out to escape, and quickly in on a lefty high-crotch, but couldn't finish
- RBY with a counter, all quickness, finishes on top for TD2
- Deeeeep level-change for a double-leg that surprised Decatur for TD3
- Locked hands call on RBY, 1pt Decatur, but he finishes with a reversal
- 4TDs, which all happened very fast (7 total TDs)
Period Three, 18-6
- RBY looking to break him
- Big single with a trip, TD8, nearly decked him
- 4 NF ends it
141 #2 Nick Lee MD Dylan D’Emilio 15-3; PSU, 9-3
- Nick Lee pressuring, working ties on both sides
- Drops in on a lefty single, brief fight, finishes
- Great fight from bottom, D’Emilio escapes after 10 seconds
- More tight ties, go-behind for Nick Lee for TD2
- Nick Lee remembering that escape, now riding hard
- Working the right wrist, got it!
- And the tilt for 2NF
- Stall warning on D’Emilio
Period Two, 6-1
- Nick Lee chose bottom, nearly reverses, but settles for an escape
- Decent righty single attempt by D’Emilio, but Nick Lee sprawls and finishes on his own for TD3
- Quickly cuts him
- TD4: a lefty single
- D’Emilio chose down
- Nick Lee looks interested in punishing that decision
- But then cuts him
- Out of bounds, and BOTH wrestlers hustling back to center
- GREAT shot by D’Emilio!
- But Nick Lee does an ankle dive and forces the stalemate!
- Another great shot by D’Emilio, that Nick Lee finishes for TD5
- Not enough TDs for the tech
149 #2 Sammy Sasso DEC Beau Bartlett, 6-3; PSU, 9-6
- Beau Bartlett!
- Center mat, hard lefty ties
- Strong and perfectly-timed Bartlett lefty single that is quickly finished for TD1!
- Not much of a Bartlett ride, escape Sasso
- Bartlett maintaining center mat
- HUGE retort from Sasso: lefty underhook, dropped in for a knee pick and finish
Period Two, 0-2
- Sasso chose down, Bartlett not trying to ride, E1
- Sasso working underhooks on the right side now, Bartlett defends
- Another underhook, but Bartlett comfortable with the whizzer, spins back to neutral
- Bartlett chose down
- Sasso heavy on the right side
- Sasso looking like he’s teaching
- Very late escape by Bartlett, but Sasso showed him what’s in store in D1 to get to the top of the podium
157 #8 Brady Berge DEC Elijah Cleary, 3-1; PSU, 12-6
- Bardy, our beloved Swedish Chef!
- Tim Johnson, joining in BSD’s culinary fun, just referred to Bardy as Burgery. Welcome, Tim!
- Just boiling water so far for this dish
Period Two, 0-0
- Bardy out quickly!
- Cleary with a hard lefty underhook, but Bardy with a strong whizzer on the edge
- Nice shot, ducking to the left leg by Cleary, Bardy caught his heel and nearly fell to his butt, then gathered his hips with big strength and fought it off
- Big mat return, but Cleary out!
- Berge got the left leg, but a big fight by Cleary on the edge earned the stalemate
- Berge working shrugs, then lowered in so deeply & quickly that Cleary was dumbstruck by the double-leg quick-strike. Oh my, what a win!
165 #10 Ethan Smith WBF #14 Joe Lee (2:34); 12-12
- Ethan Smith looks a little bigger than Joe Lee
- Smith on Joe Lee’s left leg, but a nice scramble and counter to stalemate by Joe Lee
- Smith with a slick ankle pick, Joe Lee dives into a crotch lock and oh no ...
- Joe Lee screamed and grabs his knee
- Joe Lee shakes it off after evaluation by Trainer Dan Monthly
- After injury time, Smith chose down
- Smith escape, 0-1
- Beautiful single by Joe Lee, reaches across earns the TD, but Smith granby’s through, muscles an underhook and takes Joe Lee to his back!
- Adjusts the half, sinks it deep and the deck work is completed, at the 2:34 mark
174 #5 Carter Starocci DEC #3 Kaleb Romero, 2-1, TB1; PSU 15-12
- Starocci holding center mat
- HEAVY snaps from Starocci
- Hi-crotch attempt by Romero, Starocci steps out of it
- Half-shot by Romero
- Starocci on the right leg, decent sprawl, ends out of bounds for a restart
- Another heavy right-handed snap
- Starocci snaps into a double-leg attempt by Romero, easy sprawl back to neutral
- Starocci chose down, quick escape
- Nice setup by Romero, quickly in on Starocci’s left leg, hard and strong defense by Starocci to not give up the other leg
- Starocci on a double, big cross-face, sprawl and dive out of bounds by Romero
- Romero chose down
- Strong sit-out to escape by Romero
- Starocci controlling mat position
- Ties are tough, brutal hand & head fighting
- Starocci on a good shot, but Romero blocked the head well
- Half-shot by Romero, Starocci on the angle reattack, finishes out of bounds
- Long shot from deep space, nothing doing
- BUT a quick reattack by Romero gets the left leg, gets it up high, tries to drop, but Starocci quick-steps away, including stepping on the wood floor
- Romero dives in on a double attempt, they both land out of bounds, but no whistle
- Starocci in on the reattack, gets awarded the TD, but it’s under review
- Waved off (correctly), and they put :27 seconds back on the clock
- Starocci on a double shot, but muscled up to neutral by Romero
- Starocci takes bottom, tripods up to two feet
- Hips away and out in about 11 seconds
- Romero down
- Coach Casey Cunningham heard shouting from the edge: “watch the switch”
- Dang, Romero’s switch attempts are strong!
- But Starocci’s stronger! Rides him out for the win!!!!
Starting to put the ⭐️ in Starocci...— Penn State On BTN (@PennStateOnBTN) February 20, 2021
The defending B1G Wrestler of the Week @carterstarocci follows up last week's performance with ANOTHER huge upset, this time of No. 3 Kaleb Romero. @pennstateWREST@ncaawrestling // @trackwrestling
184 #2 Aaron Brooks MD #20 Rocky Jordan, 13-4; PSU, 19-12
- Jordan in on a leg, but Brooks fights it for ... multiple seconds
- Until Brooks counters it for TD1
- Brooks cuts him after a lengthy ride
- Stall warning on Jordan
- Brooks in on left leg, but not deep enough to finish, ends in stalemate
Period Two, 2-1
- Brooks chose down, out pretty quickly
- Sloppy shot by Brooks, Jordan muscles him off with an underhook
- Stall#2 on Jordan, just as Brooks gets in on a left-leg single for TD2
- Cuts him, Jordan with a sloppy granby that Brooks easily scrambles around behind for TD3
- Jordan chose down
- Brooks cut, quick shot on left leg, switches to outside trip, earns TD4 on the mat edge
- Cuts him
- Again on the left leg, head outside, reaches across, finishes for TD5
- Brooks content to ride this finish
- Brooks shaking his head as the bout ends
197 #16 Michael Beard WBF Gavin Hoffman (1:20); PSU, 25-12
- Beard’s right knee heavily bandaged
- Beard in on the left leg, comes up the body and just bull-rushes Hoffman right to his back!
- Working a bow & arrow with a lot of time left in the period
- Dang, Hoffman’s got a tough row to hoe here, getting torqued as he tries to fight off his back, Beard in no hurry
- There’s the pin!
I can’t believe there’s no PSU-BTN video tweet for this bout, bummer!
285 #8 Seth Nevills DEC #16 Tate Orndorff, 3-2; PSU, 28-12
- Nevills ~272
- Dorf* ~259
- Math: Nevills outweighed this opponent by ~13 pounds
- Somewhat of a throwback to the Dancing Bear era here in the first
- A little bit of a shot by Dorf, but Nevills hips out of it
- Nevills chose down, quickly out
- And right back in on Dorf’s right leg, but no finish
- Nevills a sloppy shot, Dorf tries to counter with a body lock that goes nowhere
- Extremely hearkening back to the Dancing Bear era here in the second
- Dorf chose down
- Double caution
- Nevills wants to ride, but Dorf is up and out, 1-1
- Nevills down and nicely wrapped around the right leg, but either caught his heel or had no push off the heavily wrapped right leg, and Dorf muscles him up to neutral for nothing
- Nevills again on a lower leg, persisted to the finish this time!
125: It’s great to have a 125-pounder again! Howard battled tough, but Heinselman has really leveled up this year. Giving up that takedown with time expiring in the second period was a heart-breaker. Could have been a different third period attack plan with a 1-1 score.
The new kid could have really used a full season this year, but we’ll get to watch him wrestle through his growing pains—in the Big Ten Tournament, let’s gooo!
133: Speaking of leveling up!
For RBY, perhaps it’s more accurate to quip that he’s rounding out. He’s really diversifying his skillset and dominating in all three positions. I’m still interested to watch Decatur when he’s allowed to bump up a weight class or two, but last night against RBY, he didn’t stand a chance.
At B1Gs, nobody seems to know yet if Stevan Micic will be back, but Iowa’s Desanto looks ready for a career rubber match against Bravo-Young, if that matchup occurs there. Nationally, Daton Fix has returned to the Oklahoma State lineup. So, just as there were in 2019 when RBY finished 8th, there are still some giants at this weight-class.
The difference this year is that Bravo-Young is one of them.
141: The pandemic really gypped us out of Nick Lee vs Luke Pletcher III last year; it better not deny us Nick Lee vs Jayden Eierman II. The two haven’t met since Nick Lee’s True Freshman season in 2018, in the National Consolation Semifinals in Cleveland, when Eierman Majored Lee, 12-4.
Coach Casey is fond of saying that Nick Lee does everything right. “Tell him to get 9 hours of sleep, he’ll get 9 hours of sleep.” In his 4th year with the program, he sure looks set to prove the coaches’ directions to him were indeed well-received.
149: How pretty was that first-period takedown? Perfect setup & timing, just glorious. And then the big Sasso ride that put the nail in coffin. Still, like Michael Beard last week against Myles Amine, Beau Bartlett put on a good showing against a top-ranked, really strong dude.
Beyond Sasso, most of this weight class’ big guns are at non-B1G schools. Only Michigan’s Kanen Storr, who teammate Barraclough rode out last week, and Iowa’s Max Murin represent the Big Ten in the top-10 at this weight. If Bartlett wins the right to grapple for the Lions at B1Gs, can he score more points against Illinois’ Mike Carr or Northwestern’s Yahya Thomas to get a chance to see Murin or Storr, or get a rematch with Sasso?
157: One takedown, but dang was it beautiful! A robust defense coupled with not getting ridden, our Culinary King is preparing simple but delicious and nutritious dishes for us all to get our wishes: Hawkeye Stew served up under the arches of Saint Lou.
165: That was a nasty-looking torque on Joe Lee’s right knee, not all that dissimilar to what happened to Seth Nevills’ knee last week against Mason Parris. That he shook it off and competed afterward was promising. That he got yoked and decked from a finishing granby was a little less so.
Lots and lots of upside for the Nittany Lions at this weight going forward.
174: Starocci looks ready to fight for, like, forever. He looked fresher longer last night than he did even against Massa last week. I think my favorite position to watch his tenacity in is when an opponent gets in on a good shot. There’s just so much pride in fighting against giving up that takedown. It’s really ferocious and inspiring, frankly.
In fact, I think that’s what we’ll work on in the basement mats this morning: give a kid a leg, see if he can get it up to where Romero had Starocci last night and then see if they can take me down while I channel my inner Carter Pride.
I didn’t sleep much last night, thinking about it.
184: Brooks seemed a little disappointed with his own wrestling last night. I liked how he didn’t bite on Jordan’s contentment to burn clock from bottom, and cut him loose early after TDs. Maybe he was disappointed in his attack rate? Last year in the BJC, he took Rocky down six times, this year only five.
Prediction: Brooks’ll be alright.
197: What a great win for Beard last night!
He came out firing and just manhandled Hoffman. That is a very nice omen indeed, for Nittany Lion fans hoping for something special from this young squad this postseason.
285: Ugh, that injured right knee is worrisome. A tougher opponent last night, than against Northwestern, when he scored 9 takedowns, but Nevills looks a little less mobile, less confident in attacking the legs, after tweaking the knee against Parris. He’s got his 4 matches in now; maybe he’ll get some rest before B1Gs?
It’s an almost identical problem to last year’s PSU 285 situation: the Lions lose a National Championship contender (2020: Cassar; 2021: Kerkvliet); in steps Nevills, a solid AA-looking contender, who then injures his knee. Let’s hope he can heal up quickly and not default out of Big Tens this year!
The Young Team is growing up, getting better. They seem to be exhibiting the two things the coaches ask them to control: their own attitude and effort. The lineup breadth is also impressive. There are Now-Studs or Future Studs at all ten weights. It’s an extremely fun team, and the postseason looks set to be extremely entertaining.
And it’s always fun to go into Columbus and put a whuppin on the Buckeyes.
(Special thanks to our photographer friends, Sam Janicki and Tony Rotundo for allowing BSD to use their gorgeous photos. Please consider browsing their catalogs and purchasing their photos directly from their websites or supporting them with a cash donation. You can do so for Sam here, and for Tony here.)