A few weeks ago, the BSD Wrestle community joined together to watch Penn State stake its claim as this year’s best Dual Meet team, when it defeated the rival Iowa Hawkeyes. Let’s take a look back at the January action in an extremely hostile Carver Hawkeye Arena, and at some history in the rivalry.
125 #7 Drew Hildebrandt MD Jesse Ybarra, 9-0; PSU 4-0
Word was that Spencer Lee replacement Drake Ayala had injured a shoulder, so Ybarra got the call with direction to avoid Bonus Points. He started out well enough on that path, by holding Hildebrandt to no first-period points, in what would become a trend.
In the second, Hildy’s top-wrestling reputation preceded him as Coach Brands & Ybarra chose neutral. Hildebrandt earned a TD and 49 seconds of riding time.
In the 3rd, after choosing bottom, Hildebrandt reversed Ybarra and tilted him for 4 near fall points to secure the Major.
133 #1 Roman Bravo-Young DEC #3 Austin Desanto, 3-2; PSU 7-0
Round 6 between these two! Ahead of the action, I had tried to recap their career series in a twitter thread.
Having been stymied by RBY the past 3 battles, Desanto tried a new strat: shoot off the whistle and hope the people inside the arena and one key person outside the arena would help him.
The problem was that he only ever got as far as this:
In the first, after an out of bounds and three stalemates, RBY was dinged with his first stall warning.
In the second, Desanto quickly escaped from bottom and applied the volume shot strat anew. It resulted in an out of bounds and a stalemate before the Iowa coaches got the scoring they sought: a second stall call and its accompanying penalty point.
Down 0-2, RBY borrowed Desanto’s trademark tricep grip, used it to throw ADS by, and pursued with his own trademark quickness to earn the only takedown of the match:
In the third, RBY escaped to take a 3-2 lead he would never relinquish.
Bravo-Young now leads the series, 4-2, and sends Desanto & his coaches back to the drawing board. Fans can be sure both wrestlers will be ready to go again in Round 7.
141 #1 Nick Lee DEC #2 Jaydin Eierman, 6-4; SV; PSU 10-0
In the first of this dual’s #1 vs #2 matchups, Nick Lee tied up the career series with The Riddler Eierman at 2-2. The series:
- 2018 0315, National Consolation Semifinals. Eierman MD Lee, 12-4. Youtube video no longer available.
- 2021 0306, Big Ten Finals. Eierman DEC Lee, 6-5. Youtube link.
- 2021 0318, National Finals. Lee DEC Eierman 4-2, SV1. Youtube link.
A third straight bout began with zero first-period scoring.
In P2, Lee rode Eierman for 47 seconds before allowing the escape. Soon after doing so, he shot in, fought off a countering attempt around the chest and scrambled through for the first takedown.
Lee scored another TD late, to take a 4-2 lead into the 3rd, at which he chose neutral. They scrapped on their feet and Eierman appeared perhaps too gassed against Lee’s vaunted gas tank. But the Riddler riddled himself to a late TD plus enough top-wrestling to evaporate Nick Lee’s time under a minute, steal a point back and send the bout into overtime at 4-4.
It was quite impressive.
Alas, the gas and the fatigue amassed took the oomph out of Eierman’s sass. In Sudden Victory, he gave it the ole college try, shot in earnestly, but didn’t have enough to finish through Nick Lee’s heavy hips. Lee whizzered and shrugged and finished behind for the winning TD.
Next match is the rubber match for these two grizzled warriors.
149 #10 Max Murin DEC #19 Beau Bartlett, 4-1; PSU 10-3
Speaking of warriors ... these two went at it with the hand-fighting in neutral early and often.
Another zero-score first. In the second, Bartlett chose down, and Murin worked him hard. They battled out of bounds at 1:23 and :46 and Murin built up 1:26 in riding time, before Bartlett escaped.
In the third, Murin escaped to tie it, and earned the lone takedown to win it.
157 #12 Kaleb Young DEC Tyrell Barraclough, 2-0; PSU 10-6
Although another goose-egg first period expired, Young dominated in the other two positions.
He escaped from bottom in 12 seconds, and rode Barraclough throughout the third, earning an impressive, if ugly, 2-0 victory, sending three points to his team, and passing the dwindling scoreboard deficit off into the capable hands of teammate Alex Marinelli.
165 #5 Alex Marinelli MD #11 Brady Berge, 10-2; Tied 10-10
In his first battle against a Top-5 165-pounder, Berge looked a little overmatched. Granted, Marinelli’s entire style and “The Bull” brand is informed by his proclivity for the charge, but he manhandled Berge in all three positions.
He forced a very early stall warning (at 2:20), earned a TD and finished the first with 1:18 of riding time. In the second, he escaped and forced a second stall call, to take a 4-0 lead into the third.
There, he earned two more TDs, another stall call and the riding time point, good for 6 more points and the Major Decision.
Berge’s performance then, on January 28, combined with absences in the Ohio State & Nebraska duals on February 4 and 6, have led to speculation Berge might be considering or attempting to cut down to 157 where he competed last year.
174 #1 Carter Starocci DEC #2 Michael Kemerer, 2-1 TB1; PSU 13-10
This was a very tough fight.
It looked and felt a little different than the 1vs3 and 1vs2 battles at 133 & 141, in that there was even less scoring but, if possible, more scoring attempts. It was closer in style to the Aaron Brooks - Myles Amine matchup the week before, except that, after trading shots & sprawls for 3 minutes in the first and neither riding for over a cumulative minute in the 2nd or 3rd, neither could still score from neutral during the extra two minutes provided by the Sudden Victory period.
In the rideout tiebreakers, Starocci got out in 10 seconds, but Kemerer never did, which earned Starocci the point and the victory.
Let’s check out the pics from Tony Rotundo to see a bunch of shots that did not finish with control or points.
184 #1 Aaron Brooks DEC #17 Abe Assad, 8-3; PSU 16-10
Brooks started out this bout looking right on the path to Bonus Points; he earned two takedowns and racked up 1:51 in riding time in the first.
In the second, Brooks escaped, earned another takedown, gave Assad an escape and forced a stall call.
In the third, Assad got another escape, but there were no more takedowns and the bout ended in a regular decision.
197 #2 Max Dean DEC #4 Jacob Warner, 8-3; PSU 19-10
Warner took an early lead with a first-period takedown and a fairly successful ride, that amassed 40 seconds of RT. But he also picked up his first stall call from riding below the knee for a 5-count.
In the second, he escaped and took a 3-0 lead into the 3rd.
Dean chose down and escaped with Warner’s RT at :52, then forced a second stall call on Warner to pick up a second point.
After taking the lead, 4-3, with his first takedown, Dean’s job, much like it was against Michigan’s Brucki in the third period, was to prevent the bout-tying escape at all costs.
Dean did one better, by opening up Archery Season and securing crucial bout-clinching and dual-clinching near fall points.
It was a beautiful sight:
285 #5 Tony Cassioppi DEC #3 Greg Kerkvliet, 7-2; PSU 19-13
Dual win in hand, and an 0-1 career record against this opponent, Kerkvliet could afford to get a feel and wrestle totally uninhibited.
He opened the scoring with a casual-looking but tight and sound double leg and rode for 22 seconds before allowing an escape.
But then, he allowed himself to lock up with Big Cass in the upper body, and he lost the leverage and balance battle and ended up here ...
Before bridging and turning back to his base, where Cassioppi finished the period with 42 seconds of riding time of his own.
In the second, Kerkvliet chose neutral, but there was no scoring.
In the third, Kerk diminished the RT down to 17 seconds, before allowing a Cass escape. Down 2-4, he attempted an inside trip and upper body throw, but again Cassioppi ended up on top of him, where the match ended.
Penn State won 6 bouts, Iowa won 4, each with only one Bonus win—the Majors by Hildebrandt & Marinelli.
In a battle of such evenly-matched teams, the takedown results looked a lot like last year’s National Finals, which is to say: there were not many. Penn State earned 9, to Iowa’s 8, but 5 Hawkeyes and 4 Lions failed to earn a single one—7 of those 9 wrestlers were ranked in the Top-20!
And as such, as was frequently the case in the other Battle of Titans this year, many bouts were decided by the wrestling on the mat.
Penn State and Iowa are now 5-5 in the ten duals they’ve competed in during the PSU Sanderson Era. In those ten duals, the winner has averaged 22.9 points to the loser’s average of 12.5, for an average victory margin of 10.4.
For individual bout wins, the dual winner has won the bout battle 6-4 five different times. Four times it was 7-3, and once it was 8-2, in the 2010 slaughter. Including that year when Penn State was ranked #13, the Lions have averaged being ranked 2.9, while the Hawkeyes average a 3.2 ranking coming into the dual.
What’s also interesting is, for as even as the recent dual history of this rivalry is, how little those dual results impact the postseason.
Only twice did Penn State win the dual and also win Big Tens (‘12 & ‘14). Iowa did so thrice (‘10, ‘15 & ‘20).
And only once did Iowa win both the dual and the Nationals.
Penn State, however, is 4-0 in that stat category. Since Cael came to Penn State, every year the Lions have defeated the Hawks in the dual, they have also gone on to win the Nationals.
What will this year’s postseason hold?
Can the Hawkeyes’ greybeards post big enough scores at B1Gs or Nationals to hold off the ascending Nittany Lions?
Can’t wait to watch and find out!