With their win over Maryland last weekend, the Nittany Lions solidified their Big Ten dual season championship and eyed one last dual before the post season officially begins. This week is senior day, the last time we’ll see Roman Bravo-Young and Max Dean don arguably the best singlet in NCAA wrestling in front of a raucous Rec Hall crowd. And for that alone, we should pack the stands.
Clarion will be rolling into State College with a winning record this season, having a stretch of eight straight dual meet wins earlier this year until they lost at home to Rider last weekend (they followed that up with a loss to West Virginia, in Morgantown, on Friday - a dual meet in which they won four of ten weights, including a pin in 125). The Golden Eagles are second in their division in the MAC, behind only Lock Haven, and boast a strong lineup despite only one ranked starter.
It won’t be enough to overcome Penn State, especially on senior day and especially this late in the season, but at least half their lineup has a good shot at making the NCAA tournament, which should be celebrated as it’s not as easy as Cael Sanderson has made it seem to us.
How To Watch
What: #1 Penn State vs Clarion*
Where: Rec Hall, University Park, PA
When: Sunday, February 19, 1:00 PM EST
Audio: Free (via GoPSUSports)
|#1 Penn State||WT||Clarion|
|#1 Penn State||WT||Clarion|
|Gary Steen (Fr., Hermitage, PA)||125||Joey Fischer (So., Pittsburgh, PA)|
|#1 - Roman Bravo-Young (Sr., Tucson, AZ)||133||Mason Prinkey (So., Normalville, PA)|
|#5 - Beau Bartlett (Jr., Tempe, AZ)||141||Seth Koleno (Sr., Clarence, PA)|
|#13 - Shayne Van Ness (Fr., Somerville, NJ)||149||Kyle Schickel (So., Lemont, IL)|
|#8 - Levi Haines (Fr., Arendtsville, PA)||157||Trevor Elfvin (Sr., Langhorne, PA)|
|#9 - Alex Facundo (Fr., Essexville, MI)||165||Cam Pine (Jr., Ranson, WV)|
|#1 - Carter Starocci (Jr., Erie, PA)||174||John Worthing (So., Owego, NY)|
|#1 - Aaron Brooks (Sr., Hagerstown, MD)||184||#21 - Will Feldkamp (Sr., Pinckney, MI)|
|#3 - Max Dean (Sr., Lowell, MI)||197||Ty Bagoly (Sr., Reading, PA)|
|#2 - Greg Kerkvliet (So., Grove Heights, MN)||285||Austin Chapman (So., Belle, WV)|
I originally had this pegged as a bout that Gary Steen could turn some heads on, ala Lujan in the MSU dual, but Fischer’s really strong performance on Friday has me second guessing myself. Steen does better in Rec than in other venues, as evidenced by Braxton Brown only getting an escape against him last week to pull down the win, so this could be far closer than how it looks on paper. I’m going conservative here.
Prediction: Fischer by major decision
Score: PSU 0, Clarion 4
RBY loves the spotlight, and while this isn’t as big of one as the BJC or they’ll see in Tulsa in a month, this is his senior day, after all. The two-time champ shows why you can never take your eyes off of him when he’s on the mat.
Prediction: RBY by fall
Score: PSU 6, Clarion 4
Beau Bartlett always looks like he’s just so happy to be out on the mat. My mom’s favorite wrestler has found his offense of late, and I expect he’ll turn it up (and turn Koleno over) a few times in this bout.
Prediction: Bartlett by major decision
Score: PSU 10, Clarion 4
This weight is incredibly deep, especially in the Big Ten, but SVN is very close and on any given day can take it to any of these guys. The ability to wrestle new dad Zain Retherford in the NLWC weight room can only help him, not only this year but in years to come.
Prediction: Van Ness by major decision
Score: PSU 14, Clarion 4
I expect a lot to change in the rankings of 157 between now, when PSU’s true freshman is ranked barely as an AA, and a month from now in Tulsa. Peyton Robb certainly deserves the number one ranking - but will he after the first Sunday in March?
Prediction: Haines by fall
Score: PSU 20, Clarion 4
This weight is another deep, DEEP one - and the ultimate winner at the end of the year is far from decided, as last year’s champ, Missouri’s Keegan O’Toole, went down to 2021’s 157 champ David Carr this week. Facundo is right there and can make some waves - he’s already beaten the highest ranked non-returning champ at this weight (Michigan’s Cam Amine is still #4, right behind 2021’s champ, Stanford’s Shane Griffith) but if he doesn’t continue honing his offense like he has since losing to Iowa’s Kennedy, it may not be enough. I expect another attempt at a takedown clinic this week, but facing probably tournament entrant Pine won’t be easy.
Prediction: Facundo by decision
Score: PSU 23, Clarion 4
Carter Starocci is an internet troll in wrestling form, and I’m very glad he’s on Penn State’s team. He’s turned it up as of late, and should be fighting to end this one early (but I expect Worthing to go all seven minutes).
Prediction: Carter by major decision
Score: PSU 27, Clarion 4
Aaron Brooks has been taking Sundays off, but since this is the only dual meet of the weekend and it is senior day (and the last dual of the year), I expect he’ll go. He’ll get bonus, which is less likely than if Certified Stud gets the call - though it should be a PSU win regardless.
Prediction: AB by major decision
Score: PSU 31, Clarion 4
Max Dean’s last dual meet in a PSU singlet will feature some great turns and definitely a foray into archery season, but I expect Bagoly to stay off his back enough to keep it within 8 (but just barely). The redshirt senior goes out on top and heads into the postseason with confidence and a chip on his shoulder.
Prediction: Dean by decision
Score: PSU 34, Clarion 4
Kerkvliet likely does wrestle this week, for the same reason AB did, though even if Nevills goes it’ll be a win for PSU. If the Nittany Lions starter is the wrestler, I doubt this one gets out of the first period - much like Nevills’s did last week against Maryland’s backup.
Prediction: Kerk by fall
Score: PSU 40, Clarion 4
Overall score prediction: Penn State 40, Clarion 4
*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; Clarion is unranked in both rankings.