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Penn State finally opens its wrestling season with pair of victories

NATE COBLER
Centre Daily Times (TNS)
Penn State

It finally happened.

Penn State's wrestling team got to compete after twice postponing its season debut.

The Nittany Lions (2-0) were welcomed back with a nail-biting 24-15 win over Indiana (1-3). The Nittany Lions survived the Hoosiers despite losses from a pair of top-10 Penn State wrestlers. Later in the day, the Nittany Lions cruised past host Northwestern (1-4) 29-13. The Hoosiers topped the Wildcats 18-16.

"It is just great to compete. We didn't wrestle off the charts," Penn State coach Cael Sanderson said to the Penn State Sports Network. "Our job is to just get better every week. I think we'll do that. I'm excited about the challenge of this year. Hopefully, we can start building from here."

Penn State began the dual with both teams forfeiting at 125 pounds, as it didn't have a wrestler medically cleared to compete. Robbie Howard did, however, make the trip with the team, according to Penn State Sports Network's Jeff Byers.

Roman Bravo-Young took the mat for the Nittany Lions against the Hoosiers' Kyle Luigs at 133, and immediately went to work. RBY racked up five takedowns and controlled the match, but he won't be happy with giving up a late takedown to Luigs in an 11-8 win.

Nick Lee picked up right where he left off last year against Indiana's Cayden Rooks. The Nittany Lions' senior scored 10 first period points thanks to two takedowns and two sets of near-fall points for a 10-1 lead. In the second period, Lee picked up a reversal and collected four nearfall points to earn a 16-1 technical fall in 5:00.

Penn State led 8-6, but lost the lead after the 149-pound contest.

No. 10 Jarod Verkleeren took the mat for the Nittany Lions against unranked Graham Rooks. Rooks used an escape and a late takedown to defeat Verkleeren 4-3.

"We need to score points at 49. It's a tough weight," Sanderson said. "It's one of those weights where there's a lot of wrestlers. We got to figure that weight class out. Hopefully, we can score some points there at the Big 10 (tournament) and nationals."

Brady Berge made his return to the mat for Penn State after missing most of the season last year, recovering from a head injury. Berge looked good securing two takedowns and controlling the Hoosiers' Matt Ortiz.

Joe Lee made his Nittany Lions' debut at 165 pounds against Nick South. Lee was consistent all match long picking up three takedowns and amassing 1:24 in riding time to secure an 8-4 win, and pushing Penn State's lead to 14-9.

No. 5 Carter Starocci, also, made his Nittany Lions' debut at 174 pounds. His debut ended the same way as the guy he's replacing, Mark Hall — a loss.

Starocci took on Indiana's DJ Washington and was down 6-0 early when Washington secured a takedown and four nearfall points with double overhooks. Washington tacked on another takedown and nearfall points to lead 10-1 after one period.

Starocci rebounded in the second period by picking up a stalling point from Washington and two sets of nearfall points to get within 10-8 after two periods. Starocci escaped early in the third period, but couldn't get another score in a 10-9 loss.

"Carter's been working extremely hard," Sanderson said. "A loss like that is something that will be a blessing for him. He's going to do really well. He'll get better every match."

The Hooisers trailed 14-12 after 174 pounds, but after Aaron Brooks picked up an 18-5 major decision for Penn State, Indiana was down 18-12.

The Hoosiers got a 10-3 win from Nick Willham over Nittany Lions' newcomer Levko Higgins. It was 18-15 heading to the big guys.

The advantage was in the Nittany Lions' corner with Seth Nevills at 285 pounds. Nevills took Indiana's Rudy Streck down three seconds into the bout and pinned him with 1:16 left in the first period to secure the win for Penn State.

Wildcats no match for PSU

Trailing 6-0, Penn State turned to RBY and Nick Lee to get them out of the hole. RBY secured a pin in 3:48 as Lee followed with a 12-2 major decision to put the Nittany Lions out front 10-6.

No. 20 Yahya Thomas of Northwestern edged Terrell Barrclough, who made his Penn State dual debut, 3-2, to pull the Wildcats to within one. The Nittany Lions responded by winning the next four bouts.

Berge had five takedowns in a 12-7 win. Joe Lee needed a riding time point to pick up an 8-7 win at 165 pounds.

Starocci rebounded from his dual-debut loss with a 4-1 win. Brooks earned a 21-6 technical fall in 7:00 to push Penn State out to a 24-9 lead.

Donovan Ball made his Nittany Lions' dual debut by taking on a much larger No. 11 Lucas Davison. Davison used his size advantage to the tune of a 12-3 major decision. Nevills finished the dual with a 24-9 technical fall in 4:58.

No. 4 Penn State 29, Northwestern 13

Saturday at Evanston, Ill.

125: No. 8 Michael DeAugustino, N, won by forfeit; 133: No. 3 Roman Bravo-Young, PSU, pinned Dylan Utterback, 3:48; 141: No. 2 Nick Lee, PSU, major dec. Frankie Tal Shahar, 12-2; 149: No. 20 Yahya Thomas, N, dec. Terrell Barraclough, 3-2; 157: No. 11 Brady Berge, PSU, dec. Maxx Mayfield, 12-7; 165: No. 6 Joe Lee, PSU, dec. David Ferrante, 8-7; 174: No. 5 Carter Starocci, PSU, dec. Troy Fisher, 4-1; 184: No. 3 Aaron Brooks, PSU, tech. fall Jack Jessen, 21-6 (7:00); 197: No. 11 Lucas Davison, N, major dec. Donovan Ball, 12-3; 285: Seth Nevills, PSU, tech. fall Brendan Devine, 24-9 (4:58)

Extra matches

141: Beau Bartlett, PSU, dec. Colin Valdviez, 8-4; 141: Bartlett, PSU, dec. Justin Benjamin 10-4; 141: Benjamin, N, major dec. Brandon Meredith, 18-5; 149: Trevor Chumbley, N, default No. 10 Jarod Verkleeren; 149: Chumbley, N, dec. Bo Pipher, 6-2; 149: Gardner, PSU, tech. fall Jamie Berg, 15-0 (7:00); 165: Konner Kraeszig, PSU, major dec. Ankhaa Enkmandakh, 10-2; 174: Creighton Edsell, PSU, dec. Jon Halvorson, 3-2; 174: Edsell, PSU, dec. Jadon Martin, 9-4

Takedowns: PSU 36, N 8

Records: Penn State (2-0), Northwestern (1-4)

Next match: Penn State vs. Wisconsin, site, date & time TBA

No. 4 Penn State 24, Indiana 15

125: Jacob Moran, I, won by forfeit; 133: No. 3 Bravo-Young, PSU, dec. Kyle Luigs, 11-8; 141: No. 2 N. Lee, PSU, tech. fall Cayden Rooks, 16-1 (5:00); 149: Graham Rooks, I, dec. No. 10 Verkleeren, 4-3; 157: No. 11 Berge, PSU, dec. Matt Ortiz, 5-2; 165: No. 6 J. Lee, PSU, dec. Nick South, 8-4; 174: DJ Washington, I, dec. No. 5 Starocci, 10-9; 184: No. 3 Brooks, PSU, major dec. Drayton Harris, 18-5; 197: Nick Willham, I, dec. Levko Higgins, 10-3; 285: Nevills, PSU, pinned Rudy Streck, 1:44

Extra matches

141: Bartlett, PSU, pinned Jonathan Moran, :56; 149: Gardner, PSU pinned Jonathan Kervin, :56; 149: Barraclough, PSU, major dec. Kervin, 8-0; 165: Kraeszig, PSU, major dec. Derek Gilcher, 9-0; 165: Kraeszig, PSU, dec. Sammy Cokeley, 13-7; 174: No. 5 Starocci, PSU, tech. fall Robert Deters, 18-1 (2:37); 174: Edsell, PSU, dec. Detar, 10-5

Takedowns: PSU 21, I 8

Records: Penn State (1-0), Indiana (0-3)