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Aaron Brooks throws his opponent by and picks the knee

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Wrestling Preview: No. 1 Penn State at Maryland

The Nittany Lions head south to prime PSU recruiting territory

Scott Pilutik, Black Shoe Diaries

Maryland athletics hates Penn State more than they love money, and nothing evinces this more than their recent (read: last few years’) desire to keep their home wrestling and women’s volleyball matchups against the Nittany Lions in their pavilion in the ground floor of the Xfinity Center, rather than their basketball arena proper. This dual is sold out, which is easy to do in a venue that seats roughly 1,500 fans against the biggest draw in the sport; the Maryland ticket office could have easily sold four times that amount had they moved the dual to the bigger upstairs arena, like they had in some years past.

No wonder there’s no high-caliber RTC associated with the Maryland program, despite the hiring of Alex Clemsen a few years ago to helm the Terrapins program; the UM wrestlers, half of whom are ranked right now, deserve more attention paid to them when they have some spotlight. It’s likely not being moved due to some perceived home-mat advantage of the more intimate location, but this isn’t the difference between Rec Hall and the BJC; it’s closer to PSU’s softball arena.

But no matter the venue, these Nittany Lions will take on whatever team, wherever they need to wrestle, and any minute home-mat advantage that Maryland hopes to have will be negated by the dominance of this Penn State squad.

How To Watch

What: #1 Penn State vs Maryland*

Where: Xfinity Center Pavilion, College Park, MD

When: Sunday, January 28, 12:00 PM EST

Audio: Free (via GoPSUSports)

Video: Big Ten Network

Lineup

#1 Penn State WT Michigan State
#1 Penn State WT Michigan State
#4 - Braeden Davis (Fr., Belleville, MI) 125 Tommy Capul (So., Waxhaw, NC)
#5 - Aaron Nagao (So., La Habra, CA) 133 #21 - Braxton Brown (So., Allen, TX)
#2 - Beau Bartlett (Sr., Tempe, AZ) 141 #17 - Kal Miller (So., Kansas City, MO)
#12 - Tyler Kasak (Fr., Doylestown, PA) 149 #14 - Ethan Miller (So., Kansas City, MO)
#1 - Levi Haines (So., Arendtsville, PA) 157 #33 - Michael North (Sr., Wadsworth, OH)
#7 - Mitchell Mesenbrink (Fr., Hartland, WI) 165 AJ Rodrigues (Fr., Mt Airy, MD)
#1 - Carter Starocci (Sr., Erie, PA) 174 Dominic Solis (Jr., Laurel, MD)
#5 - Bernie Truax (Gr., Oceanside, CA) 184 Chase Mielnik (Jr., Downington, PA)
#1 - Aaron Brooks (Sr., Hagerstown, MD) 197 #5 - Jaxon Smith (So., Cartersville, GA)
#1 - Greg Kerkvliet (Sr., Grove Heights, MN) 285 #25 - Seth Nevills (Gr., Clovis, CA)

125 LBS

With the chaos that has befallen this weight class this season and his redshirt officially being pulled, Braeden Davis finally is ranked about where we’d expect on the year. This bout should be little more than a tune up on the marquee regular season matchup for the Nittany Lion true freshman in two weeks - and it could be over pretty quickly.

Prediction: Davis by tech fall

Score: PSU 5, UM 0

133 LBS

After a tough loss on Friday night in Ann Arbor, the Minnesota transfer bounced back quite nicely in East Lansing on Sunday. Braxton Brown, up at 133 this year after a season as the UM starter at 125, provides a good test for Nagao and if he can keep on his offense when challenged - I expect he’ll pass this one with flying colors.

Prediction: Nagao by major decision

Score: PSU 9, UM 0

141 LBS

The last time these two met on the mat, it was a typical Beau Bartlett affair with the Nittany Lion winning 5-2 off the strength of a takedown and reversal. This should be another low-scoring affair with Beau not giving Miller much of anything - but always looking for his own shot.

Prediction: Bartlett by decision

Score: PSU 12, UM 0

149 LBS

The official PSU write up of this bout only lists Kasak, not David Evans; I’m not convinced that Tyler will have his redshirt pulled. If he does, this could be a high-scoring affair for the Nittany Lion; otherwise, a good test for Evans and how he’ll fare in the post season.

Prediction: Miller by decision

Score: PSU 12, UM 3

157 LBS

I keep predicting bonus for Levi on the strength of last season and how good he was. I do appreciate that he’s still seemingly recovering from his off-season surgery, but he’s still undefeated so it’s obviously still working. So I’m going to keep on doing it.

Prediction: Haines by major decision

Score: PSU 15, UM 3

165 LBS

Every week, Mitch Mesenbrink climbs a little bit more up the rankings - but I’m still not convinced it’s enough. This is a very top-loaded weight but our psycho can line up with any of them; the Terrapin freshman he’s facing on Sunday won’t prove much one way or the other.

Prediction: Mesenbrink by pin

Score: PSU 21, UM 3

174 LBS

Carter is hopefully much better this week after his bout of illness last week (that Shane Griffith, after another low-scoring win in Columbus Friday, is likely super thankful for) and really the only thing stopping this from being a pin is likely Solis’ experience, and a stalling desire to stay off his back.

Prediction: Carter by tech fall

Score: PSU 26, UM 3

184 LBS

This should be the week where Bernie Truax finally gets his offense truly going after a few duals of seeming-tentativeness. I expect the grad transfer will be looking for a tech at the end but will come up just short.

Prediction: Truax by major decision

Score: PSU 30, UM 3

197 LBS

Will Aaron Brooks actually wrestle into the third period this week? Jaxon Smith is, without a doubt, Maryland’s best wrestler, but Aaron Brooks may be the best pound-for-pound wrestler in the nation. This would be a good barometer for how far Smith can go in the post - if he keeps it to no bonus, an All-American-type season is pretty likely.

Prediction: AB by major decision

Score: PSU 34, UM 3

285 LBS

Seth Nevills learned a lot from his time in the Nittany Lion weight room, but wanted to go somewhere and actually wrestle - so chose Maryland. Unfortunately, last week he was the last bout that sealed a close loss to the Indiana Hoosiers; he’s still ranked, but this week his test is much tougher. Both these dudes know each other really well, so the question is, who gets the best of the former teammates? I expect it’ll be Kerk, and not close.

Prediction: Kerk by major decision

Score: PSU 38, UM 3

Overall score prediction: Penn State 38, Maryland 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; Michigan State is unranked in the Dual Meet rankings, and #27 in the Tournament rankings.

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