No. 2 Penn State wrestling team closes strong vs. No. 12 Ohio State to remain unbeaten

Centre Daily Times (TNS)
Penn State head wrestling coach Cael Sanderson

Cael Sanderson's Penn State wrestling team took seven of the 10 matches in its Friday night dual with the No. 12 Ohio State Buckeyes to secure a 28-12 win in Columbus.

The Buckeyes managed to tie the match with four bouts remaining but the No. 2 Nittany Lions earned the final four victories to move to 5-0 overall and in the Big Ten this season.

The dual started at 125 pounds with freshman Robbie Howard taking the mat for the second time as a Nittany Lion and taking on No. 10 Malik Heinselman. Neither wrestler was able to get on the board in the first period, but the more experienced Heinselman earned a quick escape in the second period and a takedown in its final seconds to get out to a 3-0 lead.

He maintained that distance after Howard escaped in the third and took the Nittany Lion down one last time to earn the 5-2 victory.

It was clear very early that Penn State — as it generally does — would have an advantage at 133 pounds. No. 3 Roman Bravo-Young notched three first-period takedowns on his way to a 6-2 lead against Jordan Decatur. He really turned it on in the second period, getting an escape and then hitting Decatur with a barrage of takedowns to go up 18-6.

The junior finished the job in the third period, earning three more takedowns and three near-fall points to get the 27-8 technical fall win.

No. 2 Nick Lee kept the good times rolling for the Nittany Lions at 141 pounds earning a takedown of Ohio State freshman Dylan D'Emilio in the match's first minute. He earned yet another takedown less than a minute later and turned that into two near-fall points and a 6-1 lead at the horn.

An immediate escape in the second period and an ensuing two more takedowns gave Lee an 11-2 lead heading into the final period. D'Emilio's escape to open the period was wiped out by his second stall warning and compounded by a riding time point and another Lee takedown to land the Nittany Lion a 15-3 major decision victory.

True freshman Beau Bartlett made his debut for Penn State at 149 pounds, taking on one of the country's best in No. 2 Sammy Sasso. Bartlett opened the match's scoring with a takedown, but it was Sasso who ended the period with the 3-2 lead after earning an escape and a takedown with seconds on the clock.

The Buckeye earned another quick escape to open the second period in an otherwise scoreless period. He was able to close out the 5-3 decision win by riding out almost the entire period and earning a riding time point in the process.

No. 8 Brady Berge and Ohio State's Elijah Cleary went scoreless until the Nittany Lion earned the escape to open the second period. Neither wrestler was able to secure a takedown from there in the period, and a Cleary third-period escape knotted the score up at one.

Berge was able to secure a takedown in the match's final 10 seconds to lock up a 3-1 decision win and a 12-6 lead for Penn State through fives matches.

After the intermission, Penn State's No. 14 Joe Lee took on the higher-ranked No. 10 Ethan Smith. Lee took injury time in the middle of the first period and Smith scored the match's first point on the ensuing escape. Lee went up 2-1 with a takedown of his own, but Smith was able to reverse Lee and turn him, earning the pin at 2:34 in the match.

Penn State needed to get momentum back in its direction after Smith tied the match at 12 and that needed to start with No. 5 Carter Starocci taking on No. 3 Kaleb Romero at 174 pounds. Neither wrestler scored in the first period, but Starocci went up 1-0 on an escape to start the second period.

Both Romero and Starocci nearly secured takedowns in the second but the match stayed 1-0 until Romero opened the third period with an escape to make it 1-1.

It stayed that way to force sudden victory for Starocci's second match in a row. On Sunday, the Penn State freshman was able to defeat Michigan's Logan Massa with a takedown and four near-fall points. He nearly earned the win with a takedown in sudden victory against Romero on Friday night, but was deemed out of bounds upon review.

Starocci took bottom to start the tiebreakers round and earned an escape point to go up 2-1. He then rode out Romero for all 30 seconds to lock up the 2-1 win.

No. 2 Aaron Brooks kept the momentum rolling for Penn State against No. 20 Rocky Jordan at 184 pounds. He took the Ohio State sophomore down in the match's first 30 seconds before Jordan shook loose for an escape and a 2-1 lead for Brooks at the end of one.

The Nittany Lion escaped to open the second and kept the pressure on Jordan up 3-1. A second stalling warning for Jordan made it 4-1 and an immediate Brooks takedown improved his lead to 5-1. A Jordan escape was followed immediately by another Brooks takedown to go up 8-2 after two.

Brooks cut Jordan loose to start the third and took him down again to go up 10-3 before cutting him loose once again. The next takedown gave Brooks the 12-4 lead and a 13-4 major decision win with the riding time point secured.

No. 16 Michael Beard made quick work of Ohio State's Gavin Hoffman at 197 pounds, pinning the Buckeye in 1:20 to secure the team victory at 25-12 with only the heavyweight bout remaining.

Penn State's Seth Nevills — who is ranked No. 8 at heavyweight — took on Ohio State's No. 16 Tate Orndorff to close out the dual. Nevills opened the scoring with an escape four seconds into the second period, and Orndorff matched him with an escape 14 seconds into the third period.

Nevills secured a takedown with 30 seconds remaining before an Orndorff escape finished the scoring, giving the Nittany Lion a 3-2 win and closing the dual out at 28-12 in Penn State's favor.

No. 2 Penn State 28, No. 12 Ohio State 12

Friday at Columbus, Ohio

125: No. 10 Malik Heinselman, OSU, dec. Robbie Howard, 5-2

133: No. 3 Roman Bravo-Young, PSU, tech. fall, Jordan Decatur, 27-8 (5:37)

141: No. 2 Nick Lee, PSU, major dec. Dylan D'Emilio, 15-3

149: No. 2 Sammy Sasso, OSU, dec. Beau Bartlett, 5-3

157: No. 8 Brady Berge, PSU, dec. Elijah Cleary, 3-1

165: No. 10 Ethan Smith, OSU, pinned No. 14 Joe Lee, 2:34

174: No. 5 Carter Starocci, PSU, dec. No. 3 Kaleb Romero, 2-1 (TB)

184: No. 2 Aaron Brooks, PSU, major dec. No. 20 Rocky Jordan, 13-4

197: No. 16 Michael Beard, PSU, pinned Gavin Hoffmann, 1:20

285: No. 8 Seth Nevills, PSU, dec. No. 16 Tate Orndorff, 3-2

Records: Penn State (5-0, 5-0 Big Ten); Ohio State (5-4, 5-4 Big Ten)

Next match: Maryland at Penn State, Feb. 22, 6 p.m.