In the final dual of the season, Clarion came to Rec Hall to toe the line against the #1 team in the country. In many ways this match felt like an exhibition. It was Senior Day, the team has already been crowned B1G dual champions, and this was a very one-sided match on paper. In other words, there wasn't much to wrestle for.
With tournament season starting in 2 weeks, the priority was to get everyone to it healthy. The second priority was to get guys recognition for their contribution to the programs. And the third priority was to have fun. I don't actually know those were the priorities, but they sound good to me, so let's go with them. That way if Cael asks if I got a plan or something, I can resoundingly say YES!
While those may not have been the priorities, that's exactly what was on display on Sunday.
125: Gary Steen vs. Joey Fischer
Once again Gary Steen took the mat to start us off. This match had a slightly different feel to it as the energy was resoundingly in the Penn State corner, thanks to the pre-match festivities.
After a scoreless 1st period, Fischer chose bottom to start the 2nd and quickly got out for an escape. In the closing seconds of the period, Steen finished a shot and ended the period on top to take a 2-1 lead into the 3rd. Starting the position in bottom, Steen escaped to extend his lead to 3-1. Wrestling with the lead and time winding down, Steen played all defense, drawing a stall warning, and finally countering a desperation shot attempt by Fischer to secure a final takedown and get the regular decision, 5-1. Penn State took the lead, 3-0.
The takery: Steen's been a fighter all season and he brought that attitude to this match. Maybe it was just me, but Steen looked a lot more comfortable than we're used to seeing him and the result was more control of the match. That's probably a result of not having to take on ranked competition. Regardless it was good to see him get the win but unfortunately I don't expect this match to indicate much for the B1G tournament where the quality of opponent will significantly increase. But we can hope!
133: Roman Bravo-Young vs. Mason Prinkey
RBY took the mat for the final time in Rec Hall for his collegiate career, clearly intent on putting on a show for the crowd. Getting out to a quick takedown, RBY worked a tilt for 2 NF to take a 4-0 lead. While the swipes were probably accurate, this ref was awfully hesitant to award swipes or call the pin all night. RBY let Prinkey up in order to repeat another takedown and 2 NF to extend his lead to 8-1. Another escape from Prinkey and RBY takedown closed out the period, 10-2.
In the 2nd, RBY chose neutral and scored 3 takedowns to go up 16-4. After putting on a sufficient show for the crowd, he then ended the match by fall, giving the official sufficient time to appreciate just how flat he could get Prinkey's back to the mat, and putting Penn State up 9-0.
The takery: RBY's been ready for March since the season started. He's wrestled more matches than I expected him to after he announced he was coming back. He's clearly intended this season being a statement which bodes well for the bonus point total come tournament time.
141: Beau Bartlett vs. Seth Koleno
Beau started the period looking relaxed and confident, but he was still every bit as technical and domineering as ever. However he was only able to muster 1 takedown in the 1st period, taking a 2-1 lead to the 2nd period. Bartlett chose bottom to start the 2nd and found more offense with 2 more takedowns to finish the period up 7-2.
Koleno chose bottom to start the 3rd with Beau looking for bonus. After an initial escape, Beau continued his offensive success, scoring 2 more takedowns and riding out the period to get the major decision 12-4 with the riding time point and putting Penn State up 13-0.
The takery: When Beau takes the mat, you know what you're going to get. It's going to be a grind, he's going to be assertive, he's not going to make mistakes and he's going to capitalize on any that his opponent makes. The last several weeks we've seen him looking for big moves at the expense of a much higher likelihood of scoring. This match was more of the same. We'll see what that leads to in March, but it's encouraging that even when not at his most efficient he's getting bonus, and that's a trend that will likely continue.
149: Shayne Van Ness vs. Kyle Schickel
Van Ness is a dog and in this match Schickel was his chew toy. Securing the opening takedown followed by 2 swipes for nearfall, Van Ness was out to a 4-0 lead. After an escape and a stall warning for fleeing the mat, Van Ness scored another takedown and then continued his domination on top. Drawing a 2nd stall call on Schickel for the penalty point, Shayne was able to turn Schickel for another 4 swipes of near fall before the period ended.
With an 11-1 lead, Schickel chose neutral to start the 2nd. Another takedown from SVN and 4 more swipes ended the match in a 17-1 tech fall for Van Ness and an 18-0 lead for the Lions.
The takery: SVN is relentless. He's technical, but he has a brutality to him as well. It's a bit reminiscent of Retherford (whose brutality increased significantly after his redshirt season) and I really look forward to how he's going to mature. It's crazy to think that the best competition both SVN and Beau had over the last several weeks was probably in the wrestling room against each other.
157: Levi Haines vs. Trevor Elfvin
Looking to keep the bonus train going, true freshman Levi Haines took the mat. Getting off to a dominant start, Haines scored 3 takedowns before turning Elfvin for 4 nearfall, before the period ended the threat of a fall. Haines, up 10-2, chose neutral to start the 2nd and kept the scoring going with another takedown. After conceding an escape on a restart, Haines got yet another takedown and followed it up with another turn for 4 more near fall after Elfvin was able to fight off his back a final time to end the match by tech fall, 18-3, and put Penn State up 23-0.
The takery: Levi Haines is kind of good at this wrestling thing. Most freshman are successful because of their speed or their style. Haines has that, but he also can just brute strength opponents which is rare for a freshman, especially a true freshman. It'll be interesting to see how well he can put it all together in March.
165: Alex Facundo vs. Cam Pine
Following intermission, Facundo took to the mat against Cam Pine. After getting the opening takedown, Cam Pine answered with one of his own to tie the match up at 3-3. Alex scored another takedown to retake the lead but was unable to ride out the period, which ended 5-4.
Facundo chose bottom to start the 2nd and after getting the escape he proceeded to take down Pine 3 times in the period to extend his lead to 12-7. Pine chose bottom to start the 3rd, escaping only to be taken down 2 more times by Facundo. Alex fell one takedown short of getting the major with a final score of 16-10 and ending the Penn State bonus streak but still increasing the lead to 26-0.
The takery: This was either the 2nd or 3rd time we've seen Facundo let down his guard after a takedown to give one back to his opponent. It was one slip up that cost him bonus points in this match. I don't expect it to be something we see in the tournaments where he'll have his guard up more, but on the verge of the podium he'll have to avoid making that same mistake if he wants to make All American.
174: Carter Starocci vs. John Worthing
In an offensive onslaught, Starocci scored 4 takedowns in the 1st before ending with a turn for 4 near fall points to take a 12-3 lead into the 2nd period. Choosing bottom, Carter got the quick escape before getting another takedown and more swipes to win by tech fall 19-3, exactly 1 minute into the 2nd period and putting Penn State up 31-0.
The takery: Carter took the mat looking to put on a show and he certainly did. It was nice seeing him this active and focused on scoring without needing something to add extra motivation. I still don't know that he's taken the step to be an offensive juggernaut, but Starocci knows how to win matches his way and we should expect more of the same come March.
184: Certified Stud Donovan Ball vs. Will Feldkamp
Ball took the mat again affording Aaron Brooks another week off. From the start, Feldkamp looked to tie up Ball and get leverage, a position that resulted in Ball getting hit with a stall call as the wrestlers went out of bounds. Feldkamp kept the pressure on and found his opportunity, hitting Ball with a throw and taking him to his back where he was able to finish for the fall and put Clarion on the board 31-6.
The takery: This was a disappointment mostly because it would've been great to see how Ball faired for the full 7 minutes. But Feldkamp showed why he's a ranked wrestler and capitalized on the opportunity. Don't expect Aaron Brooks to make any mistakes in March, so we'll be in great shape.
197: Max Dean vs. Ty Bagoly
Max Dean took the mat for his final collegiate match in Rec Hall. In his typical domineering fashion, he scored the opening takedown before putting on a dominant ride but unfortunately wasn't able to get a turn. Up 2-0 to start the 2nd, Dean chose bottom, getting out to the escape before getting another takedown to go up 5-0. An escape for Bagoly resulted in a stall warning as Dean continued to look to score. Dean was able to get another takedown, but once on bottom Bagoly seemed focused on not giving Dean anything to work with and the period ended 7-1.
Bagoly was game however, and chose neutral to start the 3rd in an effort to get back in the match. To the surprise of the Rec Hall crowd, he proceeded to take Dean down twice in the 3rd and tighten the match, but Dean would end up victorious, 9-5 with the riding time point, and he put Penn State up 34-6.
The takery: Max Dean is no box of chocolates. You know exactly what you're going to get. In what has become a pretty open weight class, his consistency will serve him well in the tournaments, especially as he continues to keep going while his opponents wear down.
HWT: Greg Kerkvliet vs. Austin Chapman
Kerk took the mat looking to wrap up the meet with some domination of his own. In the 1st, he scored two takedowns while drawing a stall warning on Chapman getting out to a 4-1 lead, all the while avoiding finding himself under Chapman's bulk.
In the 2nd Kerk took bottom and got out for the escape before scoring another takedown. A stall call on Chapman as Kerk rode on top looking for a turn found Greg up 8-1 at the end of the 2nd. Chapman chose neutral to start the 3rd, and Greg made him pay for it with a takedown and turn to get the fall and close out the dual 40-6.
The takery: Kerk is wrestling the best he's ever wrestled. The added muscle will help prevent him from wearing down during the tournaments while making short work of his opponents.
There wasn't much to take away from this match. Overall it just felt like an exhibition with several throw attempts across a variety of weights from both sides. This team is clearly ready for the upcoming tournaments. While the opponents of the last few weeks make it a bit hard to gauge, across the board everyone seems to be wrestling the best they've been all year. With everyone firing on all cylinders, healthy, and with a full tank, this is going to be a fun tournament season and will hopefully be about as stress free as a national championship can be. While unlikely, it's not out of the realm of possibility that we have 6 finalists, and it's a very real possibility that this team will have 9 AAs when it's all said and done.