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2022 NCAA Division I Men’s Wrestling Championship Photo by Jay LaPrete/NCAA Photos/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

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Wrestling Preview: No. 1 Penn State at Rider

The Nittany Lions are back in dual form after the Thanksgiving holiday, hitting the road in the first of a two-bout weekend!

Two weeks after having five champs crowned at the Black Knight Open and crowning three wins (in three tries) at the NWCA All-Star Classic, the PSU wrestling squad is back in dual action this weekend, hitting the road for some non-conference wrestling.

Fifth-year senior, and two-time national champ, Roman Bravo-Young was the only member of PSU’s named starting lineup to not participate the weekend before Thanksgiving, which saw dominant performance after dominant performance; the Nittany Lions look to continue that dominance in their trip to New Jersey on Friday night.

They’re taking on Rider University, who typically wrestle in Lawrenceville, NJ; the dual has been moved to Trenton, a much larger venue down the road. The Broncs have five NCAA qualifiers on their squad this year, including two wrestlers who are currently ranked. Last season, Penn State hosted Rider to end the 2022-2023 regular season; the Nittany Lions won that matchup 45-0 behind back-to-back-to-back pins from Max Dean, Greg Kerkvliet, and Drew HIldebrandt.

How To Watch

What: #1 Penn State vs Rider*

Where: CURE Insurance Arena, Trenton, NJ

When: Friday, December 2, 7:30 pm

Audio: Free, via GoPSUSports

Video: Flo


#1 Penn State WT Rider
#1 Penn State WT Rider
Gary Steen (Fr., Hermitage, PA) 125 Tyler Klinsky (Jr., Middletown, NJ)
#1 - Roman Bravo-Young (Sr., Tucson, AZ) 133 Richie Koehler (Sr., Middletown, NJ)
#9 - Beau Bartlett (Jr., Tempe, AZ) 141 McKenzie Bell (Jr., Swedesboro, NJ)
#20 - Shayne Van Ness (Fr., Somerville, NJ) 149 #24 - Quinn Kinner (Jr., Mullica Hill, NJ)
#30 - Terrell Barraclough (So., Kaysville, UT) 157 Jake Silverstein (Sr., Hauppauge, NY) OR Colton Washleski (So., Flemington, NJ)
#17 - Alex Facundo (Fr., Essexville, MI) 165 Hunter Mays (Fr., Levittown, PA)
#1 - Carter Starocci (Jr., Erie, PA) 174 Michael Wilson (Sr., Annandale, NJ)
#1 - Aaron Brooks (Sr., Hagerstown, MD) 184 Asa Terrell (Jr., Chicago, IL)
#1 - Max Dean (Sr., Lowell, MI) 197 #12 - Ethan Laird (Sr., Waterford, PA)
#2 - Greg Kerkvliet (So., Grove Heights, MN) 285 Davis Szuba (So., Brick, NJ)

125 LBS

Last season, transfer Drew Hildebrandt finished the pin parade against this week’s presumptive opponent; I don’t expect Steen, who solidified his place in the linup at the Black Knight Open, but I do expect him to win by more than one or two points.

Prediction: Steen by decision

Score: PSU 3, Rider 0

133 LBS

Koehler isn’t a bad wrestler by any stretch of the imagination - he is a two-time NCAA qualifier - but he’s simply not Roman Bravo-Young. RBY got a tech against Koehler last year; the only outcomes I see that aren’t very similar are if the returning champ decides to work on his top game rather than his Nolf-esque playing with his food, or if Roman doesn’t wrestle for whatever reason.

Prediction: RBY by tech fall

Score: PSU 8, Rider 0

141 LBS

Last season, this year’s Rider starter at 141 was now 149er Quinn Kinner, who surprisingly put up a fight against two-time champ Nick Lee. This year, Beau Bartlett is down at his more natural weight, wrestling a prior NCAA qualifier who redshirted last year. This may feel more uncomfortable than a lot of PSU fans are expecting for a bit, before Bartlett pulls away at the end.

Prediction: Bartlett by decision

Score: PSU 11, Rider 0

149 LBS

This bout will be another good test for the true freshman from New Jersey - and not Rider’s wrestler, who’s actually a junior. Shayne should win this bout, but by what margin might dictate how far he’ll likely get in March.

Prediction: Van Ness by decision

Score: PSU 14, Rider 0

157 LBS

Bearclaw’s taken a step up this year, and is finally ranked after falling in the finals of the Black Knight Open to teammate Levi Haines. This Friday, he’ll be taking on NCAA qualifier Silverstein, who was injured last year; this should be another good test for the PSU starter, which I expect to come down to the wire but in favor of Terrell.

Prediction: Terrell by decision

Score: PSU 17, Rider 0

165 LBS

Facundo was the most surprisingly dominant PSU wrestler at the Open in the team’s last official outing, and moved up a few places in the rankings. He takes on a freshman from PA with a winning record - but I expect Facundo to play catch and release on his way to bonus points.

Prediction: Facundo by major decision

Score: PSU 21, Rider 0

174 LBS

Last year, Starocci being Reitsma by major decision without letting the Bronc score a single point. This year, I think he’ll also not let the home wrestler score - but will instead work on his top game, working into a good tilt on top in the second period and ending the bout early.

Prediction: Carter by pin

Score: PSU 27, Rider 0

184 LBS

Aaron Brooks missed this dual meet last year, so we didn’t get to see him against Rider’s wrestler; his backup, certified stud Donovan Ball, got a major. I expect AB to do something similar - though I’m predicting a major, this likely will either be a win by 12-14, or a pin in the first period.

Prediction: AB by major decision

Score: PSU 31, Rider 0

197 LBS

Dean started the pin parade last year, but Laird (Rider’s highest ranked grappler) took a redshirt year, perhaps to aid in getting his weight back down to 197 after wrestling at heavyweight the season before (itself after qualifiying for the NCAAs two times at 197). This is a good bout for Max to get early on in the season, and I expect the final score will be close - with over three minutes of riding time for the returning champ.

Prediction: Dean by decision

Score: PSU 34, Rider 0

285 LBS

Kerk pinned Szuba less than halfway into the first period of this bout last year. Can he beat his own time? Far be it from me to doubt him.

Prediction: Kerk by pin

Score: PSU 40, Rider 0

Overall score prediction: PSU 40, Rider 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 #1 in both rankings, and Lock Haven is unranked in both.

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