Last week, Penn State shot to the top of the intermat tournament rankings after Spencer Lee announced he was undergoing season-ending surgery; this week, after former CMU wrestler Drew Hildebrandt entered the lineup for Penn State (and highly touted freshman Drake Ayala entered the lineup for the Hawkeyes), PSU is number one in the dual meet rankings as well. There’s debates to be had over both, but luckily those debates will be settled in the coming weeks (in Ann Arbor and Iowa City).
This weekend’s action likely won’t tell us much more than we already knew about the 2021-2022 Nittany Lion wrestling squad, but it’s always good to see the team against another ranked opponent—even one that’s both suffered AND benefitted from some transfers in the offseason like Rutgers has.
Side note: Rutgers hosts Illinois on Friday evening, and the following predictions (written before that dual starts) don’t take any of those outcomes into consideration.
How To Watch
What: #1 Penn State vs #17 Rutgers*
Where: Rec Hall, University Park, PA
When: Sunday, January 16, 5 pm
Audio: Free, via GoPSUSports
|#1 Penn State||WT||#17 Rutgers|
|#1 Penn State||WT||#17 Rutgers|
|#9 - Drew Hildebrandt (Sr., Granger, IN)||125||#31 - Dylan Shawver (Fr., Lorain, OH)|
|#1 - Roman Bravo-Young (Sr., Tucson, AZ)||133||#20 - Joseph Olivieri (Fr., East Hanover, NJ) OR Devon Britton (Fr., Northampton, PA)|
|#1 - Nick Lee (Sr., Evansville, IN)||141||#3 - Sebastian Rivera (Sr., Toms River, NJ)|
|#19 - Beau Bartlett (So., Tempe, AZ)||149||#18 - Michael VanBrill (Sr., Mullica Hill, NJ)|
|Tony Negron (Jr., North Babylon, NY) OR Terrell Barraclough (So., Kaysville, UT) OR Joe Lee (So., Evansville, IN)||157||Robert Kanniard (Fr., Wall, NJ)|
|#24 - Creighton Edsall (Jr., Wyalusing, PA)||165||Andrew Clark (Fr., Collingswood, NJ)|
|#1 - Carter Starocci (So., Erie, PA)||174||#26 - Jackson Turley (So., Chester, VA)|
|#1 - Aaron Brooks (Jr., Hagerstown, MD)||184||#5 - John Poznanski (Fr., Colonia, NJ)|
|#2 - Max Dean (Jr., Lowell, MI)||197||#7 - Greg Bulsak (Sr., South Park, PA)|
|#4 - Greg Kerkvliet (So., Grove Heights, MN)||285||Boone McDermott (So., Dubuque, IA)|
Hildebrandt started his PSU wrestling career with a bang in college park, and followed that up with a workmanlike win over a decent Hoosier opponent. This week gets tougher, as Shawver has a good shot at making the NCAA tournament this year in his second season in an RU singlet.
Prediction: Hildebrandt by decision
Score: PSU 3, Rutgers 0
Wrestlestat’s algorithms continue to underestimate RBY, and it continues to baffle me. They have Olivieri as the #4 guy at this weight (ahead of proven wrestlers with fewer losses like Pitt’s Micky Phillippi—who beat Olivieri at the IL Matmen tourney—and ASU’s McGee), and in their dual predictions, expect the PSUer to lose this bout. I don’t think so, and I don’t expect this to be particularly close.
Prediction: RBY by major decision
Score: PSU 7, Rutgers 0
141 LBS - Match of the Meet
Lee is 2-0 versus Seabass (both from last year, in the NU transfer’s first season at this weight). While the first bout, at big tens, lived up to the hype, the second (in St Louis) did not—but Seabass is already having a very, very good start to his season. I expect this to come down to the wire, with Lee’s vaunted gas tank being the decider.
Prediction: N. Lee by decision
Score: PSU 10, Rutgers 0
Bartlett let his IU opponent back into the match late last Sunday, and can’t let that happen again as Van Brill absolutely will take advantage. I think Beau’s “throw ish against him to see what sticks” approach more recently gets him the win.
Prediction: Beau by decision
Score: PSU 13, Rutgers 0
I went back and forth on this prediction a lot, and ultimately decided that predicting a shutout against a ranked foe was bad juju on my part. So Tony gets the Gulibon thrown on him.
Prediction: Kanniard by decision
Score: PSU 13, Rutgers 3
Two days before Creighton majored IU’s Sammy Cokeley, RU’s Clark beat him in a 3-0 decision. I’m not saying the transitive property is foolproof, but it sure seems to be applicable here.
Prediction: Edsell by major decision
Score: PSU 17, Rutgers 3
Carter’s path to a repeat continues. Ho, hum, more bonus expected.
Prediction: Starocci by tech fall
Score: PSU 22, Rutgers 3
If the Brooks that showed up against DJ on Sunday is who the top five Poznanski has to face this weekend, the Jersey boy is in a world of trouble (and this one won’t be kept to a regular decision). I’m expecting something in the middle, with a dominant performance bg the returning champ but ultimately a 5-6 point win.
Prediction: AB by decision
Score: PSU 25, Rutgers 3
Another algorithmic prediction that makes no sense, wrestlestat has Dean understandably number two at this weight but has the Clarion transfer (#9 in their algorithm) the victor. I don’t buy it. It’s been five years since the two have met, and both are better wrestlers—but Dean more exponentially so. The bow and arrow makes the difference in this one.
Prediction: Dean by decision
Score: PSU 28, Rutgers 3
The question in the final bout of the night will be, does Kerk get the team’s only pin of the meet? I think the Iowa Central CC transfer (prior to last season) does enough to keep both shoulder blades from being called down, and the bout still ends early.
Prediction: Kerk by tech fall
Score: PSU 33, Rutgers 3
Overall score prediction: PSU 33, Rutgers 3
*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. Rutgers is ranked #17 in the dual rankings, and #14 in the tournament rankings; Penn State is #1 in both.