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Penn State Wrestling Opens Up Lead After One Day at NCAA Championships

by on March 21, 2019 9:45 PM

PITTSBURGH — Penn State wrestling capped off the first day of the NCAA Championships on Thursday with another impressive performance and plenty of falls. Although they actually lost a match this time (three to be exact), the Nittany Lions extended their lead and seem poised to pull away on day two.

Two rounds into the tournament and Penn State has 33.5 points, sitting atop the leaderboard ahead of Ohio State (25) and Iowa (24) who appear to be in a two-horse race for second place. (Consolation action was still ongoing at the time of publication. Final scores will be updated at the end of the session.)

After an undefeated first round, Penn State went 6-3 in session two to finish off a successful first day in Pittsburgh with a 15-3 record and seven falls. All nine qualifiers have a chance at medaling, with six wrestlers in the quarterfinals and one win away from All-American status.

How It Happened

No. 10 Roman Bravo-Young kicked things off for Penn State against No. 7 Austin DeSanto of Iowa at 133, in one of the most anticipated match-ups of the night and a rematch of the Big Ten Championships wrestlebacks.

DeSanto took Bravo-Young down quickly and held on to a 2-1 lead for the rest of the first period. In the closing seconds, Bravo-Young blocked a shot attempt by DeSanto by flipping over him, ending up on top of the Hawkeye. The crow erupted in cheers, but the takedown was waved off as coming after the buzzer.

In a scary course of events, DeSanto led 3-2 midway through the third period before Bravo-Young attempted a takedown that sent the two crashing into the scorers’ table. DeSanto hit the table first and bounced back up, but Bravo-Young stayed on the mat for a couple minutes before getting to his feet and returning to the center of the mat. Cael Sanderson challenge of the refs’ call of no takedown on the scramble was unsuccessful. The two near takedowns proved to play an important factor in the bout’s outcome.

Once wrestling resumed, Bravo-Young got on the offensive, but got caught in a body lock with DeSanto, who threw him to the mat in the final seconds to win 7-2. The controversial DeSanto, whose usual antics on the mat were on full display during stoppages, was booed out of PPG Paints Arena by a crowd that was decidedly pro-Penn State.

While Bravo-Young was caught up in a bit of drama, No. 3 Nick Lee was at work one mat over. He registered his second fall of the day and clinched a spot in the 141 quarterfinals by pinning Sa’Derian Perry of Old Dominion.

No. 12 Brady Berge dropped an 8-5 decision to No. 5 Matt Kolodzik of Princeton at 149 lbs. He’ll join Bravo-Young in the wrestlebacks on Friday morning. Berge’s loss was the Nittany Lions’ first at 149 at the NCAA Tournament in four years.

An uncharacteristically angry No. 1 Jason Nolf matched up with Rutgers’ John Van Brill, who many fans will remember as the last person to beat the two-time national champion. Nolf fired off six takedowns and tallied six near-fall points to beat Van Brill 19-4 via technical fall.

No. 2 Vincenzo Joseph followed Nolf with a win of his own against No. 18 Connor Flynn of Missouri at 165 lbs. With the riding time point clinched, Joseph led 7-2 late in the third period and appeared to try to throw Flynn but ended up being taken down himself. The botched takedown attempt cost Joseph a major decision, and he came away with a 8-4 decision .

At 174 lbs., No. 1 Mark Hall and No. 16 Brandon Womack of Cornell wrestled on their feet for most of the first period before the Nittany Lion secured a takedown in the waning seconds to take a 2-0 lead. He extended it to 5-0 with an escape and a takedown before holding on for an 8-3 decision.

No. 2 Shakur Rasheed was the first major domino to fall for the Nittany Lions. He lost a late lead over No. 15 Chip Ness of UNC and suffered his first loss of the season. Down 5-2 during the last minute, Ness pieced together a clutch comeback by taking down Rasheed and scoring four near-fall points to win 8-5.

After Rasheed’s loss, No. 1 Bo Nickal got the Nittany Lions back on track with a first-period fall over No. 16 Josh Hokit of Fresno State, his second of the day. He now sits two falls behind Nolf’s 60 on the all-time record list.


No. 2 Anthony Cassar wrapped up a big first day at the NCAA Championships for the Nittany Lions. He led No. 15 Tate Orndorff for the entirety of the bout but scored a pair of last-minute takedowns to secure the major decision, his team’s ninth bonus point win of the day.

What’s Next

Six Nittany Lions remain alive in the championship bracket, while Bravo-Young, Berge, and Rasheed all face elimination and will all need to win three times tomorrow in order to finish as All-Americans.

No. 10 Roman Bravo Young vs. No. 9 Charles Tucker (Cornell)
No. 3 Nick Lee vs. No. 22 Max Murin (Iowa)
No. 12 Brady Berge vs. No. 20 Thomas Thorn (Minnesota)
No. 1 Jason Nolf vs. No. 9 Christian Pagdilao (Arizona State)
No. 1 Vincenzo Joseph vs. No. 7 Isaiah White (Nebraska)
No. 1 Mark Hall vs. No. 8 Taylor Lujan (Northern Iowa)
No. 2 Shakur Rasheed vs. No. 17 Andrew McNally (Kent State)/No. 32 Bob Coleman (Oregon State)
No. 1 Bo Nickal vs. No. 8 Nathan Traxler (Stanford)
No. 2 Anthony Cassar vs. No. 7 Trent Hillger (Wisconsin)

Anthony Colucci is a writer for Onward State
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