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Mitchell Mesenbrink looking for near fall.

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Wrestling Preview: No. 1 Penn State vs No. 7 Ohio State

The Nittany Lions are back at home, taking on the Buckeyes in Tom Ryan’s favorite venue.

Scott Pilutik, Black Shoe Diaries

The Nittany Lions are back home for a dual after two straight weekends on the road, taking on a young Buckeye squad that is fresh off a come-from-behind home dual win over rival Michigan.

It’s the first time that Ohio State will be wrestling in Rec Hall since Penn State staged their own comeback against the favored visiting team in 2018 (though PSU and OSU have a protected wrestling rivalry and face each other every year, the last two matchups in PA have been held in the Bryce Jordan Center). Last time the two teams met in the close confines of Penn State’s historic arena, Buckeye coach Tom Ryan had a few things to say about why the favored OSU squad lost.

This year, barring something incredibly unforeseen, it won’t be that close. On paper, based on rankings only, the Nittany Lions will be favored in 9 of the ten bouts; though going based solely on rankings is likely a fool’s errand in collegiate wrestling, PSU is closer to sweeping the number 7 dual meet squad than it is to losing this dual meet.

Now that’s an embarrassment of riches, and a testament to what a great time it is to be a Nittany Lion fan.

How To Watch

What: #1 Penn State vs #7 Ohio State*

Where: Rec Hall, University Park, PA

When: Friday, February 2, 6:30 PM EST

Audio: Free (via GoPSUSports)

Video: Big Ten Network

Lineup

#1 Penn State WT #7 Ohio State
#1 Penn State WT #7 Ohio State
#3 - Braeden Davis (Fr., Belleville, MI) 125 #24 - Brendan McCrone (Fr., Willoughby, OH)
#5 - Aaron Nagao (So., La Habra, CA) 133 #12 - Nic Bouzakis (Fr., Tampa, FL)
#2 - Beau Bartlett (Sr., Tempe, AZ) 141 #3 - Jesse Mendez (So., Crown Point, IN)
#12 - Tyler Kasak (Fr., Doylestown, PA) 149 #9 - Dylan D'Emilio (Sr., Curtice, OH)
#1 - Levi Haines (So., Arendtsville, PA) 157 #29 - Isaac Wilcox (Sr., Holiday, UT)
#7 - Mitchell Mesenbrink (Fr., Hartland, WI) 165 #20 - Bryce Hepner (Jr., Avon, OH)
#1 - Carter Starocci (Sr., Erie, PA) 174 #11 - Rocco Welsh (Fr., Waynesburg, PA)
#5 - Bernie Truax (Gr., Oceanside, CA) 184 #31 - Seth Shumate (Fr., Galion, OH) OR Ryder Rogotzke (Fr., Lakeland, MN)
#1 - Aaron Brooks (Sr., Hagerstown, MD) 197 #22 - Luke Geog (Fr., Upper Arlington, OH)
#1 - Greg Kerkvliet (Sr., Grove Heights, MN) 285 #12 - Nick Feldman (Fr. Quarryville, PA)

125 LBS

Braeden Davis could very well win this by significant bonus, and if this was in March, I might predict that. But I’ve watched how Ohio State has coached these sorts of bouts in past years, so I expect there won’t be much opportunity for our freshman to score a lot of points; one takedown, perhaps late, will likely be the decider.

Prediction: Davis by decision

Score: PSU 3, OSU 0

133 LBS

Nagao’s only had two real challenges so far in a PSU singlet, and unfortunately has lost them both (in close bouts that could likely go his way if the two wrestlers meet again). He has another steep challenge in true freshman Bouzakis, If this wasn’t at home and wasn’t against a true freshman, I’d be a little more worried - but this one may start out tough for the PSUer but he’ll be fighting for bonus at the end.

Prediction: Nagao by decision

Score: PSU 6, OSU 0

141 LBS - Match of the Meet #1

Beau Bartlett is fresh of arguably his best bout in quite some time - just in time for the number three ranked dude at this weight. This could be a true toss up; if Beau ends up letting the sophomore dictate the match, then he could find himself needing a takedown in overtime to seal the win. If he builds on what he showed last week in College Park, he could be simply fending off some desperate Buckeye shots as the seven minutes come to an end.

Prediction: Bartlett by decision

Score: PSU 9, OSU 0

149 LBS - Match of the Meet #2

Tyler Kasak won the Mat-Town 2 title last week over fellow Nittany Lion David Evans in what most expect was a wrestle off for the starting role for the rest of the season, which means that it most likely would be he that takes on the #9 wrestler in the nation. The true freshman PSU grappler hasn’t seen action in a dual in three weeks, so his ranking has remained stagnant; he has the talent and ability to make All-American at this weight, not his natural one, and has a great shot to make this a sweep for the home squad.

Prediction: D’Emilio by decision

Score: PSU 9, OSU 3

157 LBS

A trip to College Park cures all blues, and Levi Haines knows that too well. He’s been still looking to get back to his 2023 form and the tech fall he had last week against a ranked wrestler is a good start in that direction - and this bout too could threaten to not go all seven minutes.

Prediction: Haines by major decision

Score: PSU 13, OSU 3

165 LBS

Mitch “Psycho” Mesenbrink is still underrated at 7. They keep hatin’, and he keeps rollin’; all he can do is wrestle the dudes in front of him, which he’s done with aplomb. There’s only one dude ranked ahead of him who is undefeated as he is (returning champ Keegan O’Toole), so the jury’s still out if he’ll move up to where he belongs. An eventual Big Ten title would go a long way here, but anyone who tells me Mitch can’t compete or beat anyone else at this weight doesn’t know collegiate wrestling.

Prediction: Mesenbrink by major decision

Score: PSU 17, OSU 3

174 LBS

Wrestlestat predicts that this will just be a 7-2 decision for Carter Starocci. I predict that the only way it’s that close is if Welsh pulls a Cam Amine and wrestles not to win but simply not be bonused - and the refs don’t comply by calling stalling. One of PSU’s two hopes for Hodge gets the extra point.

Prediction: Carter by major decision

Score: PSU 21, OSU 3

184 LBS

Bernie Truax had a slick fall last week, and is coming into his potential as a PSUer. He’s not exactly faced the bright lights of super high expectations in a PSU singlet yet, and I doubt this week qualifies; I think he’ll be looking for a bonus point after a more-dominant-than-the-score 6.5 minutes, but Shumate will dance away enough to avoid bonus.

Prediction: Truax by decision

Score: PSU 24, OSU 3

197 LBS

PSU’s other potential four timer, and Hodge contender, has looked the part week in and week out. He’ll be facing a talented freshman, but he’s Aaron Brooks. This will again not make it to the third period.

Prediction: AB by tech fall

Score: PSU 29, OSU 3

285 LBS

Stop me if you’ve heard this before - a top ranked Penn Stater will face a good opponent! But it won’t be close, and he’ll be pushing for bonus. Lather, rinse, repeat, and head home to watch Iowa-Michigan to gear up for next weekend.

Prediction: Kerk by decision

Score: PSU 32, OSU 3

Overall score prediction: Penn State 32, Ohio State 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; Ohio State is #7 in the Dual Meet rankings, and #16 in the Tournament rankings.

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