After wrestling about as poorly as you could’ve imagined in Saturday’s first session of the Big Ten Tournament, Penn State bounced back and wrestled about as well as you could’ve imagined in the afternoon session.
The Nittany Lions went 13-2 in the session and vaulted themselves into second place with 111.5 points, well behind Iowa, who is set to run away with the team title.
The session began with Robbie Howard in a must-win match at 125 pounds to advance to the NCAA Tournament. The Penn State freshman came out and set the tone immediately, picking up an early takedown and adding four back points to lead 6-0 after the first period over Rutgers’ Dylan Shawver. From there he closed it out like a seasoned veteran, claiming a 10-1 major decision and his ticket to St. Louis in two weeks.
Roman Bravo-Young was the first semifinalist of the night for the Nittany Lions. Bravo-Young scored two early takedowns and added one in short time in the third period to grab an 8-3 victory over Northwestern’s Chris Cannon. He’ll take on Austin Desanto of Iowa in tomorrow’s final.
The match of the night came at 141 pounds in a semifinal between Nick Lee and Sebastian Rivera of Rutgers. Rivera scored an early takedown in the first period to take a lead, but Lee struck back immediately and the two went into the second period tied at 3-3. Lee escaped quickly but a Rivera takedown put him back on top, 5-4. Rivera was then called for locking hands in the top position, tying the bout at 5-5 and a Lee escape made it 6-5 after two periods. Rivera tied the bout at 6-6 with an early escape in the third and Lee almost had it won with a takedown in short time, but after review it was ruled that time expired and we headed to sudden victory. In the extra period, it was Lee coming out on top in a scramble to claim an 8-6 win and advance to tomorrow’s finals against Iowa’s Jaydin Eierman.
Freshman Beau Bartlett suffered the first of the two losses in the session against Northwestern’s Yahya Thomas. The two traded takedowns throughout and went to sudden victory locked at 5-5. In the extra session, Thomas was able to finish a single leg to take a 7-5 win and in all likelihood end Bartlett’s freshman campaign.
Up at 157 pounds, Brady Berge rolled to a major decision win over Michael Doetsch of Maryland to lock up his tournament spot and stay alive on the back side.
Joe Lee also bounced back from an opening session loss to pin Andrew Sparks of Minnesota and punch a ticket to St. Louis.
The third of four semifinals came at 174 pounds between Carter Starocci and Mikey Labriola. The two exchanged escapes in the second and third period and a wild scramble that resulted in no points, sending us to sudden victory locked at 1-1. In the overtime period, Starocci came out on top in another wild scramble to claim a 3-1 victory and advance to tomorrow’s finals against Iowa’s Michael Kemerer.
Aaron Brooks then made it four for four, thoroughly dismantling John Poznanski of Rutgers to the tune of a 10-2 major decision. Brooks will have Taylor Venz of Nebraska, whom he pinned in last year’s semifinals, in this year’s finals.
Up at 197, Michael Beard put in a workmanlike performance to earn a 6-2 win over Illinois’ Matt Wroblewski to stay alive in his quest for qualification. That was followed up with a 16-5 win for Greg Kerkvliet at heavyweight to keep himself in the hunt for third as well.
In the final round of consolation matches of the night, Howard, Berge, Beard and Kerkvliet picked up wins to advance to tomorrow’s consi semifinals. In doing so, the latter two locked up automatic qualifying spots for the NCAA Tournament.
Joe Lee, meanwhile, dropped his match with Gerrit Nijenhuis of Purdue via fall, but will wrestle for seventh tomorrow and has already secured his spot in the national tournament.