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Levi Haines bullying his way to a pin.

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Wrestling Preview: No. 1 Penn State vs No. 29 Indiana

The Big Ten wrestling season is here!

Scott Pilutik, BSD

First of all, if you haven’t heard, last weekend after the dual meet, Oregon State 174er Travis Wittlake Jr was in an accident and badly injured. There’s been a GoFundMe set up with additional details, but I wanted to start off this week’s dual preview by wishing Wittlake a full and speedy recovery - the thoughts and prayers of the BSD wrestling community are with him and his family.

On a similar note, it was great to see Nebraska’s Peyton Robb competing at a high level again on Friday night in the Huskers’ dual against Iowa; Robb had a very scary medical situation immediately after the NCAA tournament last year, and by all accounts has come out on the other side with flying colors. These both are reminders that not only is life short - but wrestling, as much as we all love it, is just a sport, and some things are much bigger than wrestling.

Onto the preview!

The Big Ten wrestling season kicks off this weekend, and while Penn State’s dual won’t be as exciting as the premiere opening conference slate matchup that occurred on Friday, it’s still a ranked dual meet matchup (because, in the Big Ten, they’re almost all ranked matchups).

Indiana has a solid squad and is 3-1 on the season, with their only (and first) loss coming Friday night against Rutgers, where they won three bouts - though the ones they lost, they mostly lost by bonus, pretty handily.

How To Watch

What: #1 Penn State vs Indiana*

Where: Rec Hall, University Park, PA

When: Sunday, January 14, 1:00 PM EST

Audio: Free (via GoPSUSports)

Video: B1G+

Lineup

#1 Penn State WT #29 Indiana
#1 Penn State WT #29 Indiana
Braeden Davis (Fr., Belleville, MI) 125 Blaine Frazier (Fr., Mt Pleasant, IA) OR Michael Spangler (Sr., Wichita, KS)
#4 - Aaron Nagao (So., La Habra, CA) 133 Cayden Rooks (Gr., Columbus, IN)
#2 - Beau Bartlett (Sr., Tempe, AZ) 141 #23 - Dan Fongaro (Gr., Lincoln Park, NJ)
Tyler Kasak (Fr., Doylestown, PA) OR David Evans (Jr., Tunkhannock, PA) 149 #14 - Graham Rooks (Gr., Columbus, IN)
#1 - Levi Haines (So., Arendtsville, PA) 157 Nico Bolivar (Sr., Oak Park, IL)
#10 - Mitchell Mesenbrink (Fr., Hartland, WI) 165 #23 - Tyler Lillard (Fr., Aurora, OH)
#1 - Carter Starocci (Sr., Erie, PA) 174 Robert Major (So., Carmel, IN) OR Magnus Kuokkanen (Fr., Waukesha, WI)
#5 - Bernie Truax (Gr., Oceanside, CA) 184 Roman Rogotzke (So., Stillwater, MN)
#1 - Aaron Brooks (Sr., Hagerstown, MD) 197 Gabe Sollars (Fr., Evansville, IN)
#1 - Greg Kerkvliet (Sr., Grove Heights, MN) 285 Nick Willham (Gr., Greenwood, IN)

125 LBS

Davis is still unranked, which I was prepared to get huffy over but will give the fine folks over at Intermat the benefit of the doubt and say that it’s because we’re still unsure if his redshirt will be pulled. At this point, I think it will be - and he’ll surprise some folks the rest of the season and into the post. We’re not sure who he’s going to wrestle, but since Frazier got pinned on Friday, I bet it’ll be the senior Hoosier who will be able to keep it close.

Prediction: Davis by decision

Score: PSU 3, IU 0

133 LBS

I originally picked this Rooks brother to keep it within striking distance against Nagao, but then he got teched on Friday against Shawver of Rutgers. I expected more of him, honestly, but he isn’t his brother - this bout could very well end early.

Prediction: Nagao by major decision

Score: PSU 7, IU 0

141 LBS

Conventional wisdom (and Wrestlestat) have bonus by Beau in this bout, but Fongaro’s better than he’s getting credit for; he won by tech on Friday night, and Bartlett won’t get the stall calls he deserves to force his opponents to actually wrestle and not just defend themselves against his relentless attack. I expect this’ll be tied (likely at 0) after the first but Bartlett wins by around 5.

Prediction: Bartlett by decision

Score: PSU 10, IU 0

149 LBS - Match of the Meet

This Rooks is Indiana’s highest ranked wrestler, for good reason. Both Evans and Kasak have good shots in this bout and have impressed while battling - but I can’t predict a shutout again. This is the best shot that the Hoosiers have at a win on Sunday.

Prediction: Rooks by decision

Score: PSU 10, IU 3

157 LBS

Indiana had a backup wrestle at this weight on Friday, but I’m not very sure it matters much. Levi came out flat in his last outing and will be looking to work on a few things - and improve. It should be scary for all of his opponents here on out, if not so surprising.

Prediction: Haines by tech fall

Score: PSU 15, IU 3

165 LBS

Psycho is impressing, and his ranking of ten is still far too low in this humble blogger’s opinion.

Lillard is a good wrestler! But Mitchell Mesenbrink’s on another level.

Prediction: Mesenbrink by tech fall

Score: PSU 20, IU 3

174 LBS

I was very prepared to pick Carter by not bonus in this bout this week - after all, Washington is one of the very few to have a win over Starocci in his collegiate career - but DJ went and got tech falled on Friday in New Jersey without scoring a point on his own. Woof. I expect Carter’s still pissed about the match three years ago, and will have had this bout circled on his calendar.

Prediction: Carter by pin

Score: PSU 26, IU 3

184 LBS

Bernie Truax is one that likely learned a lot last week on the west coast (the coaches preach and the wrestlers know that you learn from losses), and he’ll be more offensive-minded from here on out. I think he’ll still have some cobwebs to shake off but will win this one with a strong third period.

Prediction: Truax by decision

Score: PSU 29, IU 3

197 LBS

The only reason I’m not picking AB by more in this bout is because we still don’t know if the injury he called for time for last Friday was indeed a stinger, and if he’ll wrestle this week. If he’s good to go, this very well could be over in the second. If this is Lucas Cochran, then it could be another win for the Hoosiers.

Prediction: Brooks by major decision

Score: PSU 33, IU 3

285 LBS

One of my biggest pet peeves in Rec Hall is the spectators who leave before the heavyweight bout when the PSU starter at heavyweight is someone like Greg Kerkvliet. In this one, I don’t think the timing will make much difference with Kerk asserting himself quickly - and a first period fall not out of hte realm of possibility.

Prediction: Kerk by pin

Score: PSU 39, IU 3

Overall score prediction: Penn State 39, Indiana 3


*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; Indiana is unranked in the Tournament Rankings, and #29 in the Dual Meet Rankings.

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