Patchwork lineup comes through for No. 2 Penn State in wrestling win vs. Pa. rival Lehigh
UNIVERSITY PARK — Penn State wrestling coach Cael Sanderson said that he and his staff knew they were in for a long weekend with Penn and Lehigh.
The Nittany Lions have been dealing with an illness that has worked its way through the program. It forced Penn State to get creative with its lineups.
"We knew a week ago that this weekend was going to be a challenge," Sanderson said after the Nittany Lions' 23-16 rally past Lehigh on Sunday, "but also an opportunity for guys to step up maybe that wouldn't be in the lineup regularly. It's just a chance for everybody to step up right, whether you're new to the lineup or if you're somebody that maybe we need bonus points out of."
Creighton Edsell is one of those guys who has been in the lineup regularly this year and stepped up with another big win. Donovon Ball has filled in over the weekend for NCAA champ Aaron Brooks, and was key again in Penn State's victory. The Nittany Lions also had new faces in Jacob Campbell and Tony Negron in the lineup.
"I think Ball did a great job. He had two competitive matches," Sanderson said. "When you have the national champion in your weight ahead of you, you probably are not really sure if you're gonna get an opportunity. He got the opportunity, and they were big matches. (He) went out there and and got that done. Negron looked good. We haven't really seen him wrestle, with COVID and everything, he transferred in. He wrestled a really tough kid and was right there until the end."
Campbell started the dual off for Penn State at 125. He suffered an 11-3 loss to the Mountain Hawks' Jaret Lane. Roman Bravo-Young made a return to the lineup after sitting out Friday dealing with an illness.
Bravo-Young used nine takedowns to secure a 19-7 major decision over Sheldon Seymour, who was filling in for Lehigh. The dual was tied 4-4.
Nick Lee was in the lineup again, while still recovering from an illness at 141 pounds. Lee doesn't look to be 100 percent healthy yet, but he did earn a 13-6 win, which was the 100th of his Nittany Lions career.
"I guess pretty cool," Lee said with a laugh about the historic win. "I didn't even know I had 100 matches."
The Mountain Hawks tied the dual up at 7-7 after Manzona Bryant IV used a takedown with 22 seconds remaining to edge Beau Bartlett.
Negron got the starting nod at 157 pounds, a weight class that appears to be still up in the air for Penn State. He took on No. 10 Josh Humphreys in a match that had three video reviews.
Negron tallied the first points of the bout with a slick ankle pick. Humphreys collected an escape before the first period was over. In the second period, Negron again went to that ankle pick on Humphreys and seemed to secure a takedown, but it wasn't awarded.
The officials went to video review and confirmed the called. Humphreys in turn picked up a takedown in the period on a scramble situation between the two to lead 4-2 to start the third.
The third period saw Negron use the ankle pick for a third time, but the takedown wasn't awarded. Sanderson's staff challenged the call, and Negron picked up the score. Humphreys escaped to lead 5-4 late.
With about nine seconds remaining in the bout, Negron secured another takedown. The officials let the remaining time play out, but this time the Mountain Hawks' coaches challenged the call. After review, no takedown was awarded, but the nine seconds were put back on the clock. Humphreys had solid base defense and hung on for the 5-4 win as Lehigh led 10-7 at the break.
"Those are just tough calls. Those are judgment calls," Sanderson said. "Sometimes you don't agree with the judgment and sometimes you do, but I think there was a lot of tough call in (those) first five matches."
Edsell came to the mat again on Sunday at 165 pounds with his squad trailing on the scoreboard. He took on No. 27 Brian Meyer, who is a returning NCAA qualifier.
Edsell scored the first points of the bout with an escape in the second period. To start the third period, Meyer chose the bottom position looking to tie the bout.
However, Edsell went to work with his strong top game and amassed 1:23 in riding time before Meyer was able to escape. Edsell used that riding time advantage to secure a 2-1 win, and tied the dual up at 10-10. It got things rolling for the Nittany Lions to make their comeback.
"I don't really feel any different. Honestly, I just go out there, get to my tie ups and do my thing," Edsell said when asked if he felt any pressure. "Honestly, I didn't even know we were losing. I don't really pay much attention to the team score, just because that outside stuff getting into your head could could play games with you."
Carter Starocci followed Edsell again with bonus points, like he did on Friday. The NCAA champ snapped off five takedowns on Jake Logan, amassed 3:36 in riding time to secure a 13-3 major decision. The Nittany Lions led 14-10.
Ball filled in again admirably for Penn State at 184, earning a 5-3 win, and extending the team's lead to 17-10. Max Dean got an initial takedown of JT Davis at 197 pounds, and went to work with the bow and arrow.
Dean rolled Davis to his back for four near fall points and lost the grip. Dean locked up the bow and arrow one more time and pinned Davis in 2:58 to secure the dual win. At heavyweight, the Nittany Lions forfeited to the Mountain Hawks' No. 10 Jordan Wood to finish the dual.
"We knew it was going to be tough. Penn and Lehigh are great programs," Sanderson said. "They have some tough kids and great coaching staffs. We got through injury free too. Kids are wrestling and they're not at 100 percent, that's one of the things you kind of worry about as a coach is just them getting through and just making sure they're taken care of. We're good. We're moving on."
No. 2 Penn State 23, No. 22 Lehigh 16
Sunday at Rec Hall, University Park
125: No. 14 Jaret Lane, L, major dec. Jacob Campbell, 11-3
133: No. 1 Roman Bravo-Young, PSU, major dec. Sheldon Seymour, 19-7
141: No. 1 Nick Lee, PSU, dec. Connor McGonagle, 13-6
149: Manzona Bryant IV, L, dec. No. 20 Beau Bartlett, 6-5
157: No. 10 Josh Humphreys, L, dec. Tony Negron, 6-5
165: No. 32 Creighton Edsell, PSU, dec. No. 27 Brian Meyer, 2-1
174: No. 1 Carter Starocci, PSU, major dec. Jake Logan, 13-3
184: Donovon Ball, PSU, dec. AJ Burkhart, 5-3
197: No. 4 Max Dean, PSU, pinned JT Davis, 2:58
285: No. 10 Jordan Wood, L won by forfeit
149: Joey Blumer, PSU, dec. Steven Storm, 5-1
157: Terrell Barraclough, PSU, dec. Luca Frinzi, 7-2
Takedowns: L 5, PSU 23
Records: Lehigh 3-2, PSU 5-0
Next match: Penn State vs. Northern Iowa & Cornell at Collegiate Duals, Niceville, Fla., Dec. 20