After two weeks off, Nick Lee takes the mat in his last bout in a PSU singlet in Rec Hall - and this might be RBY’s last as well. The last outing for the team saw the team perform incredibly well even though shorthanded against two ranked Big Ten foes, and this swan song comes two weeks before the conference tournament in Lincoln.
Look for Lee to put on a show as much as he can - and Bravo-Young will likely follow suit. With Oklahoma State’s AJ Ferrari out for the year and Max Dean now ranked #1 at 197, the Nittany Lion squad comes into the final dual of the year with half of their starting lineup slotted in first in these rankings.
Those five grapplers, if they’re all healthy enough to compete, are known knowns on the mat; what is unknown heading into this dual is whether returning starter Brady Berge will be able to take the mat at 157, where he was headed for the podium last year, or if he’ll stay at 165, where he’s seen action so far this season. On paper, it seems as though Berge at 157 and Creighton Edsell at 165 provides Penn State the greatest upside come the important tournament in a month - but as we all know, wrestling doesn’t happen on paper.
If it did, we wouldn’t be looking back at this with such fondness:
How To Watch
What: #1 Penn State vs Rider*
Where: Rec Hall, University Park, PA
When: Sunday, February 20, 2 pm
Audio: Free, via GoPSUSports
|#1 Penn State||WT||Rider|
|#1 Penn State||WT||Rider|
|#5 - Drew Hildebrandt (Sr., Granger, IN)||125||Tyler Klinsky (So., Middletown, NJ)|
|#1 - Roman Bravo-Young (Sr., Tucson, AZ)||133||Richie Koehler (Jr., Middletown, NJ)|
|#1 - Nick Lee (Sr., Evansville, IN)||141||#25 - Quinn Kinner (So., Mullica Hill, NJ)|
|#19 - Beau Bartlett (So., Tempe, AZ)||149||Cole McComas (So., East Liverpool, OH)|
|Terrell Barraclough (So., Kaysville, UT) OR Tony Negron (Jr., North Babylon, NY)||157||Alex Bobchin (Jr., Princeton, NJ)|
|#11 - Brady Berge (Sr., Mantorville, MN) OR Creighton Edsall (Jr., Wyalusing, PA)||165||Michael Wilson (Jr., Annandale, NJ)|
|#1 - Carter Starocci (So., Erie, PA)||174||Shane Reitsma (So., Howell, NJ)|
|#1 - Aaron Brooks (Jr., Hagerstown, MD)||184||Evan Vasquez (Jr., Succasunna, NJ)|
|#1 - Max Dean (Jr., Lowell, MI)||197||Azeem Bell (So., Wilmington, DE)|
|#5 - Greg Kerkvliet (So., Grove Heights, MN)||285||David Szuba (Fr., Brick, NJ)|
Drew’s gearing up for a postseason push in a comparatively (at list vs the last few years) open 125 field. He’s well determined to be a hammer on top - so will he work on his neutral wrestling in this last run up to the tournaments?
Prediction: Hildebrandt by major decision
Score: PSU 4, Rider 0
I hope this isn’t Roman’s swan song at PSU - and the tenor in his discussions on the topic have seemed to change as the season’s gone on. If it is, he goes out with a bang and I’d be more surprised if this bout lasts all seven minutes than almost anything we’ll see on Sunday.
Prediction: RBY by tech fall
Score: PSU 9, Rider 0
I’m close to picking a pin here, with Nick going out and securing multiple turns in his last dual in the blue and white. But Kinner is ranked - so I think he’ll be able to keep at least one shoulder off the mat, with Nick ending up just shy of a 5-team-point bout.
Prediction: N. Lee by major decision
Score: PSU 13, Rider 0
Beau had a rough weekend the last time PSU wrestled, facing a pair of really good dudes at this weight (likely his last dual at 149 for Penn State). Luckily for him, the tune up to the post season should be a chance for him to get his offense going. This’ll either be a pin in the first period or a closer-in-final-score than the bout was, something like 12-7.
Prediction: Bartlett by decision
Score: PSU 16, Rider 0
If you’re a Penn State fan who wasn’t jacked up when Bearclaw won in sudden victory at the BJC, are you really a Penn State fan? He builds on that this weekend. If it’s Berge, I say it’s not as close but still not bonus.
Prediction: Terrell by decision
Score: PSU 19, Rider 0
Whoever takes the mat for PSU should be able to work out a few things before the trip to Lincoln. If Brady’s still at 165, I bet we see bonus here; if it’s Creighton, he’ll be looking for a late takedown to win by 8, but I’m not sure he gets there.
Prediction: PSU wrestler by decision
Score: PSU 22, Rider 0
The prematch notes don’t list an OR here, so hopefully that means returning champ Carter Starocci is a go for the Lions in this tuneup. If he is, this may not even get out of the first period.
Prediction: Carter by pin
Score: PSU 28, Rider 0
Death, taxes, Aaron Brooks looking dominant. Just wait until Taylor and Ruth graduate, indeed.
Prediction: AB by pin
Score: PSU 34, Rider 0
Dean sat out the Nebraska dual after a tweak in the BJC dual, and the extra few days undoubtedly help him heal up before the toughest conference tournament in the nation. If he goes this weekend, it’s either going to be archery season after his first takedown of the bout, or he ends up winning less comfortably than we’d like. I’ll be a negative Nancy on this one this weekend.
Prediction: Dean by decision
Score: PSU 37, Rider 0
I’m still irrationally irritated that Greg Kerkvliet got dropped to #5 after the loss to Cass, in Carver, a week after dominating Mason Parris. I’ll get over it, but I’m not sure when. Bonus points in this bout can only help - and I wouldn’t be shocked if Kerk sticks the freshman in the 2nd period.
Prediction: Kerk by tech fall
Score: PSU 42, Rider 0
Overall score prediction: PSU 42, 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 Rider is unranked in both.