Penn State entered the fourth and final session of this weekend’s Big Ten Tournament fairly solidly situated in second place and with four finalists, three of whom were looking for their first Big Ten title.
The Nittany Lions ended up 2-2 in those finals, crowning one repeat and one first-time champion.
Roman Bravo-Young was the first of the finalists for the Nittany Lions at 133 pounds. Bravo-Young squared off with Iowa’s Austin Desanto for the fifth time in their respective college careers, with Desanto taking the first two and Bravo-Young the most recent pair.
This time around, Bravo-Young pushed his win streak to three.
The junior went up 2-0 early in the first period with a quick flurry to get behind Desanto for a takedown. Desanto quickly escaped and the score was 2-1 after the first. Another Desanto escape made it 2-2, but late in the second period Bravo-Young was able to again use his quickness to pick up a go behind and take a 4-2 lead into the third period.
The Nittany Lions easily escaped in the third to make it 5-2 and despite the best attempts of the Hawkeye senior, he couldn’t close the gap and Bravo-Young took home his first Big Ten title.
Nick Lee followed in a potential national championship preview as he toed the line against Jaydin Eierman of Iowa. Lee took a 2-0 lead almost immediately with a go-behind, but Eierman escaped quickly to make it 2-1. Lee immediately got back in on a high crotch, Eierman was able to hip in and get two of his own, riding out the period to lead 3-2 after one with nearly two minutes of riding time.
Eierman escaped to start the second and took a 4-2 lead. Despite no scoring in the period, Eierman was hit for stalling. We started the third period from neutral and Lee quickly picked up another takedown to tie it at 4-4, but with Eierman having riding time locked, he kicked him away to make it 5-4 in favor of the Hawkeye. WIth 30 seconds to go Eierman was once again hit for stalling, but Lee couldn’t find another point and the riding time point gave the Hawkeye a 6-5 victory.
Carter Starocci made his Big Ten finals debut against Mike Kemerer of Iowa. While Starocci was able to get to Kemerer’s legs often, he struggled to finish on the senior and Kemerer notched two takedowns of his own as well as a set of nearfall points to claim a 7-2 win.
Starocci was named the tournament’s most outstanding freshman.
Lastly, it was Aaron Brooks looking to notch his second conference championship in as many years at 184 pounds against Nebraska’s Taylor Venz. While Venz scored first, it was all Brooks from there. The former age level world champion racked up four takedowns and a riding time point to go along with an escape to grab a 10-5 win.
The Nittany Lions finished with two champs, two runners-up en route to 124 points and a second-place finish behind Iowa, which led the way with 159.5.
Penn State will return to action on Thursday, March 18 in St. Louis for the NCAA Tournament.