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Wrestling Preview: No. 2 Penn State at Maryland

PSU wrestling is back on the mat after a long break!

2021 NCAA Division I Men’s Wrestling Championship
home state boy gets the photo this week
Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

A lot has happened since the PSU wrestling team took the mat to impressively win the blue group at the Collegiate Wrestling duals - not the least of which is that Iowa’s three-time national title winner Spencer Lee is having season ending surgery (wrestling without any ACLs is not sustainable for more that a short while), and so the Hawkeyes are now projected by some to come in second at the NCAA tournament.

That’s right, kids - for the first time since the fall of 2019, prior to PSU’s own bad news that returning NCAA champ Anthony Cassar would not be defending his title, Penn State is now ranked #1! And, on top of that, we’ve got a new 125er inserted into the lineup in the form of world silver medalist (and olympic bronze medalist) Sarah Hildebrandt’s younger brother, Drew Hildebrandt, who is finally eligible after transferring from CMU.

Hildebrandt placed fourth at the NCAA tournament last season, and looks to be bolstering an area of opportunity in Penn State’s lineup - and the rankings still haven’t reflected his entry, since he hasn’t wrestled yet. That should change this week, provided he gets off to the sort of start many are expecting.

This dual has, in the past, been a home away from home dual for PSU - but with snow threatening the DMV region, and more outbreaks of omicron in Maryland being charted, there likely won’t be as many in attendance as in past years. It shouldn’t make much difference, especially if MD’s resident heckler is in attendance.

How To Watch

What: #2 Penn State vs Maryland*

Where: Comcast Center, College Park, MD

When: Friday, January 7, 7 pm

Audio: Free, via GoPSUSports

Video: BTN+ ($)


#2 Penn State WT Maryland
#2 Penn State WT Maryland
Jake Campbell (Sr., Pottstown, PA) OR Drew Hildebrandt (Sr., Granger, IN) 125 Zach Spence (So., Wilmington, DE)
#1 - Roman Bravo-Young (Sr., Tucson, AZ) 133 King Sandoval (Jr., Waldorf, MD)
#1 - Nick Lee (Sr., Evansville, IN) 141 Danny Bertoni (Sr., Jefferson, MD)
#20 - Beau Bartlett (So., Tempe, AZ) 149 Michael North (So., Wadsworth, OH)
Terrell Barraclough (So., Kaysville, UT) OR Joe Lee (So., Evansville, IN) OR Tony Negron (Jr., North Babylon, NY) 157 Lucas Cordio (Jr., Lancaster, MA)
#24 - Creighton Edsall (Jr., Wyalusing, PA) 165 Gaven Bell (Fr., Huntington, NY)
#1 - Carter Starocci (So., Erie, PA) 174 Dominic Solis (So., Laurel, MD)
#1 - Aaron Brooks (Jr., Hagerstown, MD) 184 Kyle Cochran (Sr., Paramus, NJ)
#2 - Max Dean (Jr., Lowell, MI) OR Michael Beard (So., Pottstown, PA) 197 #31 - Jaron Smith (Sr., Columbia, MD)
#4 - Greg Kerkvliet (So., Grove Heights, MN) 285 #26 - Zach Schrader (Sr., Manhattan Beach, CA)

125 LBS

Welcome to Penn State, Drew! Nothing like a road Big Ten dual to make your Nittany Lion debut. There’s potential, on paper, for bonus here, but I’m expecting that Spence keeps it close at the end in Hildebrandt’s first attached appearance on the mat in a while

Prediction: Hildebrandt by decision

Score: PSU 3, Maryland 0

133 LBS

The RBY victory tour continues with this trip - and he’s still (inexplicably, imo) ranked third at this weight by wrestlestat, behind two guys he beat last March. I expect this one to be a takedown clinic with lots of acrobatic moments, with the PSUer narrowly missing a tech fall.

Prediction: RBY by major decision

Score: PSU 7, Maryland 0

141 LBS

Lee’s finally a universal number one despite being the returning champ, since prior-sometimes-#1 Jaydin Eierman should have lost on a defensive pin in Iowa’s NC State dual meet. Regardless, chop wood & carry water, and this’ll be another day in the office for Nick Lee.

Prediction: N. Lee by major decision

Score: PSU 11, Maryland 0

149 LBS

I think Bartlett learned a lot from his loss to Yianni Diakomihalis in the Cornell dual - and he followed up that loss with a slick overtime win over highly ranked Kyle Parco of AZ State. Beau looks like he’ll be the king of close, late wins this year - taking over from last year’s king, Carter Starocci. Worked out well for Carter.

Prediction: Beau by decision

Score: PSU 14, Maryland 0

157 LBS - Match of the Meet

On paper, this is the only bout that Maryland might be favored to win. But despite that, and despite his lack of wins this year, I’ve been impressed with Tony Negron so far this season and I think he’ll pick up his first victory on the year in College Park.

Prediction: Negron by decision

Score: PSU 17, Maryland 0

165 LBS

There’s no longer a risk of Byers jinxing Edsell with talk of his dual winning streak, since that impressive streak ended in December. I’m betting his 2022 starts out with a big bang and his win streak starts up again.

Prediction: Edsell by decision

Score: PSU 20, Maryland 0

174 LBS

This is Starocci’s year, and the only questions about this bout are a) will it last all 7 minutes? and b) how long will it last?

Prediction: Starocci by tech fall

Score: PSU 25, Maryland 0

184 LBS

I’m a little surprised that Kyle Cochran isn’t ranked in Intermat this week - he had a very, very impressive outing in last week’s Southern Scuffle, in winning the whole dang thing. He’s 14-1 on the season and will be a super fight for Brooks.

Prediction: AB by decision

Score: PSU 28, Maryland 0

197 LBS

Max Dean will challenge AJ Ferrari for the title this year. Book it.

Prediction: Dean by major decision

Score: PSU 32, Maryland 0

285 LBS

I think Kerk is going to surprise people as the season goes on. This weekend’s bouts won’t do much to change perception, but it’s all leading up to March for him.

Prediction: Kerk by major decision

Score: PSU 36, Maryland 0

Overall score prediction: PSU 36, Maryland 0

*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 the dual rankings, and #1 in the tournament rankings; Maryland is unranked in both.