I imagine if any of you fine folk are also college football fans, this date may have been circled on your calendars for some “restoring of balance.” At least, that’s kinda where my head was entering the contest.
Michigan is a team with resources, talent, and desire aplenty, but the ingredients to prove elite? Depends on your definition of elite. At any rate, in a year where the Nittany Lions are probably too formidable for any lineup they’ll face, this dual promised a number of high level match-ups and more than a little bit of intrigue.
For reasons not abundantly clear, the action started at 157lbs Friday. Hat-tip to our own PBP king, Bubba0077, for digging this nugget out of the latest rulebook in a comment on Cari’s dual preview:
. . . it seems like there is a change in the procedure (or at least my understanding of it). Now, if coaches do not agree on a starting weight, there is a flip and the winner can either choose the starting weight or odds/evens for position. Other team then makes the other choice. . .
You’ll have to be the judge with that intel.
157: #1 Levi Haines, PSU vs #9 Will Lewan, MICH
This particular match-up marked 2022 AA, and statue-in-a-wrestling-stance, Lewan’s first return to action since Dec 1’s Cliff Keen Las Vegas tournament. Last year, Levi emerged as a contender in this very match-up, squeaking by with a sudden victory TD 3-1 in the BJC.
The bout began with lots of hand fighting, collar ties and snaps, surprising no one: Lewan not breaking position—or really doing anything—but Levi not finding a crack with which to capitalize. Referee Angel Rivera must’ve noticed the lack of offense, calling a rare, but apt, double-stall call with 23 seconds remaining. Haines followed this with a high-crotch attempt, but was unable to convert. 0-0.
Levi was able to grab his escape in about 10 seconds, and the remainder of the period was more of the 1st with a handful of half-shots from Levi. 1-0.
Lewan escaped early enough to negate much hope for a RT point, and managed a decent shot about halfway in. Haines was nearly able to turn the resulting front headlock position into an angle to the legs, then followed that with several more shots and misses. The increased action finally earned a 2nd stall on Lewan with 22 seconds remaining, giving Levi the lead. Lewan tried a YOLO throw late, which Levi very nearly capitalized on with a go behind, but the match mercifully ended in regulation. 2-1 Dec.
Among some PSU fans, there has been some voiced concern over how Haines has been competing this year. Having stood before him and his coaches a couple of times, I’m not so sure that concern is shared by them. This was close to a repeat of their first matchup—Lewan is an “ugly” wrestler, and sometimes you just have to win ugly. Levi is a winner though.
Penn State 3, Michigan 0
165: #9 Mitchell Mesenbrink, PSU vs #7 Cameron Amine, MICH
Boy howdy, isn’t it fun to have a guy like Mitchell to look forward to seeing in every single match? We are truly spoiled, but this guy is like 12 luxardo cherries cresting our “good to be king” sundae. Friday was Mitch “Norman’s” first crack at a multi-time AA though, in blue-blooded Michigan Man®, Cameron Amine.
Mesenbrink fired forward on the whistle with rapid and evolving pressure, fakes, and general chaos-in-motion. Amine got what looked to be a controlling front headlock on one attack of Mitch’s, but was unable break down the position. Mitch kept pressing, and his pace earned a stall warning with 1:10 remaining. Amine followed with a pretty, but whiffed, knee-pick attempt off his underhook, and then Mesenbrink’s pace seemed to really throw him in reverse for good. The 2nd stall call fell with 21 seconds remaining on an exchange on the edge that seemed like it would usually be called action—but still entirely earned by Mitch’s pace. 1-0.
Amine leveled the score by dancing his way out of his choice of bottom, but it just felt like a matter of time before the floodgates opened. Amine continued to nest himself on the outer circle as Mesenbrink’s shots, feints, and rope-a-dope continued to build pressure. The third stall call arrived at 0:42, and Mitch broke the dam, converting a low double, followed by a brutal crossface. Mesenbrink appealed to Rivera to acknowledge what I can only guess were teeth marks on his forearm, before deciding another spirit-breaking crossface would be enough of a penalty. 5-1.
Mitch secured his escape with ease, forcing a 4th stall call for 2 points shortly after. Mesenbrink converted a low single to go-behind and rode out with 1:39 RT. Would I have called the fifth and disqualifying stall call on Amine’s broken lack-of-action on bottom to close it? Yes—but Rivera seemed to espouse some home-crowd mercy. 12-1 Major Dec.
Statement wins are something we PSU fans are pretty accustomed to. For me, at least, they’re still very fun. Amine’s worst lost prior to Friday was 6-0 at Nationals last year vs Keegan O’Toole (David Carr beat Amine 3-1 at CKLV in December). The future is blindingly bright for Mitchell Mesenbrink.
Penn State 7, Michigan 0
174: Terrell Barraclough, PSU vs #4 Shane Griffith, MICH
While I shared in fan disappointment in not getting Carter Starocci another rung on his climb through an utterly dominant season, I was genuinely excited for this opportunity for quintessential PSU “room guy who wouldn’t be one anywhere else” Terrell Barraclough. In the radio broadcast, Jeff Byers noted Barraclough weighed in at 165.8 lbs, which is typically not ideal when facing a former National Champ at 174lbs. But 2024 TB is a leveled-up version, and you just know he was excited to show it (again).
Both wrestlers started the contest with a lot of feeling-out and furtive hand-fighting. Griffith tried a slide-by, but TB held ground. 0-0
Griffith took down, giving Terrell the chance to showcase his strongest position on top. He did not disappoint, accruing significant riding time by means of well-balanced claw-riding and timely trips back to the mat that elicited a “beautiful!” remark from BTN’s Jim Gibbons. Rivera did not like the (Casey Cunningham special) western-ride (heel hook), and hit TB with a stall on top. That seemed to give him enough pause that Griffith’s 2nd switch attempt late in the period connected as a reversal with a 1-count on nearfall before Barraclaugh bellied down in short time. 2-0.
Holding on to 1:10 in riding time, Barraclaugh decided to try and win it on his feet, choosing neutral. He connected on a lovely single leg with about 30 seconds left, and looked to have a momentary angle on the double-leg finish, but Griffith used the edge to his advantage and held on. 2-1 Dec.
Terrell wanted that one, and it hurt to see just a couple of split-second exchanges keep this in the “moral victory” territory. That said, just wow. This kid just keeps getting better. I for one, just love his attitude and effort like I was Cael Sanderson.
Penn State 7, Michigan 3
184: #5 Bernie Truax, PSU vs #15 Jaden Bullock, MICH
Another ranked test for new-to-us Bernie Truax. I paid attention when Cody Sanderson recently said Bernie has one of the best low singles in the sport. Would he be able to set them up in this match vs the powerful Bullock?
Bernie connected early on an ankle pick, and got Bullock to 1 knee, but Bullock—enjoying the newly instated reaction time requirement in rear standing—reacted well, forcing a stalemate. Bernie wanted a challenge, but Byers said Casey told him to keep wrestling. A handful of more attacks from Bernie, but nothing as close as that first one. 0-0.
Truax got his escape quickly, but Bullock followed with an emphatic double-leg that was ruled out by the officiating crew. The Michigan faithful were very unhappy at this point, Byers noting debris being thrown onto the mat. I personally thought it was in. The balance was restored later after a Truax low-single and ensuing scramble led to the inverse result of a score that was ultimately ruled out of bounds upon official review. 1-0.
Bullock also secured an escape off the whistle. Truax followed up with a series of variously committed shots before again getting to his sweep-single with 37 seconds remaining. This time, Bernie stayed low with his head inside, using his long arms to catch the double-leg finish to ice the match. 4-1 Dec.
By placing 4th 3 times in his 3-season career, Bernie can be accepted as a very consistent and good wrestler, who performs well under bright lights. Friday was no different, and I’m happy he’s on our team.
Penn State 10, Michigan 3
197: #1 Aaron Brooks, PSU vs #32 Bobby Striggow, MICH
Ladies and Gents, Aaron “doesn’t need a 3rd period” Brooks. At least until a very small handful of contenders square off against him at Nationals, I’m not sure much more needs to be said. Let’s soak it in.
The underhook shrug to a knee-pick has scored a lot of PSU upperweights a LOT of points in the Sanderson era. AB added 3 more, 30 seconds in. Aaron immediately started thinking pin, alternating between arm bars and cross-wrists before deciding to go back to neutral, where he dug another hook, and this time shrugged it by for a go-behind. After another cut, he got to a leg, but was unable to finish on the edge. No matter, another underhook throw-by for an easy 3 before the buzzer with 1:36 RT. 9-2.
Brooks chose down and hit a nice switch for the reversal and nearly locked a cradle before cutting Striggow just 15 seconds in. Striggow showed fatigue as Brooks’ next single leg seemed easier. This is the point where the televised scoreboard lost a point, showing 16-4, when it was in fact 17-4—making the ensuing cut and takedown the termination of the match. 20-5 Tech Fall.
Penn State 15, Michigan 3
285: #1 Greg Kerkvliet, PSU vs #4 Lucas Davison, MICH
There are not many heavyweights with the skill, power, and athleticism to challenge Daniel Greg Kerkvliet this year. The Northwestern transfer Davison is one of them, pulling this bout into special focus. Per Dulcet Tones (Jeff Byers): Greg weighed in at 247.6 and Davison a bit lighter at 232.6.
About a minute in Greg, got to an ankle briefly, but Davison managed to get out. A minute later, Kerkvliet got to a single, before going for his signature “football tackle” double-leg finish. While Davison managed to get out quickly, Greg got close on a snatch single before the period ended. 3-1.
Kerkvliet took down, hit a pretty granby that Davison followed, but Greg eventually scooted out. A textbook double lead to a clean finish for the Nittany Lion, before Davison again revealed real athleticism in earning an escape. Greg then set up a pretty outside step single that just missed, but earned Davison a stall warning. 7-2.
With Davison taking down, Kerkvliet commited to ride, which he did, alternating between cross-faces and wrist control. With 50 seconds left, Greg seemed to concede an escape in hopes of securing a major. He got close on a go-behind at the end. 8-3 Dec.
After his All-Star Classic match vs Wyatt Hendrickson, I know I wondered if anyone could challenge our guy this year. Davison showed he can keep things close, but had no real chance at offensive points beyond some well-earned escapes.
Penn State 18, Michigan 3
125: #14 Braeden Davis, PSU vs #5 Michael DeAugustino, MICH
For many, this was the match to watch Friday night. With this his 6th competition date, it means Cael Sanderson believes Davis is good enough to send to the postseason as a true freshman, and his redshirt was officially off. Davis showed last week he is a wrestler with grit and savvy that evades most true freshmen, and (also Northwestern transfer) DeAugustino has certainly earned those labels for himself across a long career. Would the younger-than-his-age-looking Lion be able to keep his cool vs the grizzled-looking veteran Wolverine?
Davis started quickly with elbow control, and an attempted go-behind. He followed that up with a high-crotch, but couldn’t quite get his hands locked. Davis really seemed to be in command of the tie-ups, and tried a low double late, but DeAugustino’s strong hips evaded the takedown. 0-0.
DeAugustino choice of down seemed routine for a vet—but Davis was fully commited to the ride. He even turned the Wolverine with about a minute remaining—but his shoulders were too far from the mat to earn swipes. Braeden did elicit a stall warning on an exchange on the edge with 30 seconds on the clock, before DeAugustino finally managed an escape with 10 seconds remaining (and 1:46 RT accrued for Davis). 1-0.
Per Byers, Davis told the coaches he wanted to take bottom. In a scramble off the whistle, Braeden nearly found a reversal before finally getting out with 0:59 riding time on the board, upon which, Cael threw the challenge brick. As is often the case, it was a good challenge, and Davis was given 1:00 even. With 10 seconds remaining, DeAgustino tried a headpinch freestyle move, which Davis stuffed and countered with a go-behind. 5-1 Dec.
At this point, with this kid, I feel like I need to stop thinking veterans innately will have an advantage. He’s the sole remaining undefeated, ranked wrestler in the weight class. If someone is going to beat Braeden Davis, they will have to find a way to out wrestle him.
Stop us if you've heard this before...UPSET AT 125!— NCAA Wrestling (@NCAAWrestling) January 20, 2024
No. 14 Braeden Davis (@pennstateWREST) picks up the 5-1 decision over No. 5 Michael DeAugustino.#NCAAWrestling x BTN / @B1GWrestling pic.twitter.com/vMhMbXKOhA
Penn State 21, Michigan 3
133: #4 Aaron Nagao, PSU vs #6 Dylan Ragusin, MICH
With yet another Northwestern transfer Chris Cannon out for the year with injury, Dylan Ragusin pulls his Olympic redshirt after a very strong performance at the CKLV invitational. Ragusin gave RBY a very close match in the dual last year, so I knew Nagao would have to compete well.
Nagao started hot, with a shot nearly off the whistle that Ragusin deftly countered to a stalemate. Nagao followed with another shot, this time converting the ensuing scramble with a takedown. Ragusin escaped soon after, and got in on his own shot—threatening the danger takedown before securing Michigan’s first takedown of the contest (and the first PSU conceded in the preceding 19 bouts of competition). Nagao (as he often does) looked to get a reversal late, but settled for the escape. 4-4.
Nagao took bottom and tried to granby into a funk roll that looked promising for a reversal before he lost the advantage and they went out of bounds. With several more restarts and close situations, Ragusin was really dedicated to staying on top, conceding a stall warning while holding a leg with under a minute remaining. The period ended with yet another 50/50 scramble which resulted in a locked hands call on Ragusin, Cael unsuccessfully challenging for a reversal at the buzzer, and Ragusin with 1:51 RT. 5-4.
With that riding time in his pocket, Ragusin chose neutral. With less than a minute remaining, Ragusin got deep on a single leg, which Nagao again nearly turned into his own takedown, save for a good whizzer. With Ragusin’s RT point, regulation ended 5-5.
Nagao immediately found another good head-outside shot that Ragusin countered by breaking Nagao down with the leverage of his head and a sort of reverse belly-whizzer, turning him for neutral danger, and a quick Fall called by Rivera. WBF.
Not the ending anyone likely expected to this hotly-contested match. Ragusin is a very wiley and confident wrestler. Still, I liked Nagao’s aggression throughout—he looked like he believed he’d win the whole time. In my fanly opinion, I think he just needs to look for the easy points a bit more often than he seems to look for the bigger points in these close matches. Seems imminently fixable. The 6k plus at Crisler Arena finally had a moment to cheer, and they did so with, well, gusto.
Penn State 21, Michigan 9
141: #2 Beau Bartlett,PSU vs #25 Sergio Lemley, MICH
I’m not sure if there is a “typical” Penn State wrestling style. We all know Cael preaches point-scoring, so it’s not surprising that when Beau Bartlett seems to favor his confidence in tight matches and counter-scoring, Beau can sometimes stand out. I don’t think anyone can say he’s not a gifted wrestler. Friday saw a matchup against a highly-touted (3x Illinois State Champ), if relatively unproven freshman in Lemley.
Beau hit a lightening quick head outside single about halfway into the period, eventually settling in for the takedown after an aborted funk-roll by Lemley. Beau rode out the period with 1:09 in RT. 3-0.
Bartlett chose bottom, and under a ride Lemley didn’t want to concede, found his way out within about 30 seconds. Lemley set up a nice slide-by attempt, but Bartlett quickly evaded it. 4-0.
Lemley escaped immediately off the whistle on a stand-up. Bartlett got to a single leg about 30 seconds in, but Lemley limp-legged out, before setting up his own shot. Bartlett tried to counter with an elevator, but Lemley kept his feet moving and went around for his own takedown. Beau patiently set up a single leg reversal, with a locked hands call on Lemley preceding. Lemley found his way out with 40 seconds remaining. Beau got to another single that Lemley neutralized to a stalemate, but couldn’t find further scoring. 7-5 Dec.
Honestly, I was impressed by Lemley—the kid looks ready to rise in the rankings from where he is, and this close bout may not look as alarming as it might today come March.
Beau Bartlett handled his business.— Big Ten Wrestling (@B1GWrestling) January 20, 2024
No. 2 at 141 wins a 7-5 decision against No. 25 Sergio Lemley! pic.twitter.com/kMNIPFhi8Z
Penn State 24, Michigan 9
149: David Evans, PSU vs Fidel Mayora, MICH
From standing in front of Cael a few times when he was asked about 149, I had a strong feeling we hadn’t seen the last of David Evans this season. I don’t know why Evans got the nod Friday—but he’s a very able wrestler with only a sudden victory loss against Kasak in the books to distinguish the two. Mayora stepped into the Austin Gomez-sized hole in the lineup for his first bout of the season.
Evans worked Mayora’s head a lot with collar ties and snaps early, getting close to a leg off of one good snap with about a minute left. Evans work to set up a shot translated to Mayora being cautioned with stalling with about 10 seconds left. 0-0
Evans stared out with a tough ride, accruing 1:02 in RT before conceding the escape. Evans shot a single leg with 30 seconds remaining, but couldn’t quite get the angle to finish head-inside. 1-0.
Evans escaped easily off the whistle, and chased down a single leg for a takedown 20 seconds into the period. Mayora eventually got out with 40 seconds left, buyt Evans secured the RT point. 5-2 Dec.
Penn State 27, Michigan 9
Penn State secured 8 bout wins, 2 of them via Bonus Points, and won a very low volume takedown battle, 15-2. Despite only earning two TDs of their own, Michigan held Penn State to a season low 15. The previous season low was against Lehigh: 24. Last year’s two lowest were 16 against Iowa and 14 versus Iowa State.
Ernie Lucas winner: Braeden Davis.
I really enjoyed the heat of this match. Cael was pretty animated throughout. Byers even mentioned him getting into a spat with the scoring table (presumably after some curious work with the clock, and a flub on Brooks’ tech fall call). Being king has with it well-known perks, no doubt, but it can sometime seem lonely. Nothing like some rivalry and good contested wrestling to spice up the battles before the battle.
Regarding said heat, you can always count on some heat from our starting 174lber. Flo Wrestling caught up with Carter after the dual w/ some good words to feed the rivalry until our next contest:
In the end, Friday night was about taking another step towards the NCAA Championships in Kansas City. Every PSU wrestler that took the mat showed a readiness that should be comforting to fans.
Personal highlights? Braeden Davis is a killer, y’all. I’m not sure I want to use the “babyface” moniker anymore. He’s proven he belongs with the men of this premiere wrestling conference, and I’m going to start believing in him like he clearly believes in himself. Of course, Mitchell Mesenbrink is another level of killer. Even Norman Bates might blush a little, frankly. And Terrell Barraclaugh just continues to impress.
Next Up: Michigan State 1pm EST Sunday, 1/20, East Lansing, BTN+($), LionVision Audio