Penn State wrestling capped off the NCAA Championships with a bang on Saturday night in St. Louis. The Nittany Lions finished 6-0 on the day and crowned four national champions.
Roman Bravo-Young, Nick Lee, and Carter Starocci all picked up upset victories in overtime while Aaron Brooks won in regulation to keep Penn State perfect in the finals.
Freshmen Michael Beard and Greg Kerkvliet both placed seventh to earn All-America honors.
Despite the effort, Penn State came up just short in the team race. Coach Cael Sanderson’s group finished second with 113.5 points just behind the Iowa with 129 points.
How It Happened
The finals kicked off at 133 pounds as No. 2 Roman Bravo-Young took on No. 1 Daton Fix of Oklahoma State. The two wrestled evenly through the first period as neither wrestler could score a takedown and were tied at 0-0. Bravo-Young came up huge in the second, riding out Fix for the entire period and gaining two minutes of riding time.
He went on to get the escape point in the third period to take a 1-0 lead but was questionably called for stalling twice which gave Fix a 2-1 lead. Bravo-Young’s riding time tied the match at 2-2 to send it into overtime. In sudden victory, Bravo-Young did what he’s done best all year, using his lightning speed to get a takedown and secure the 4-2 upset over Fix. His national championship was the first for a Penn State wrestler at 133 pounds.
Next up in the finals for the Nittany Lions was No. 2 Nick Lee against No. 1 Jaydin Eierman of Iowa at 141 pounds in a rematch of the Big Ten finals won by the Hawkeye.
Both wrestlers got in on shots in the first period, but neither scored a takedown. Eierman started the second period down and got the escape to take a 1-0 lead. Lee smartly choose neutral in the third period, which would pay off, as he secured a takedown to take a 2-1 lead. He couldn’t manage to keep Eierman down as he got an escape to tie the score and force overtime.
Lee would not be denied in sudden victory as he pushed the pace in search of a match-winning takedown. He eventually got that takedown and complete the upset with a 4-2 decision. Lee’s championship victory made him the first national champion for Penn State at 141 pounds.
After a bit of a break, freshman No. 3 Carter Starocci took on No. 1 Michael Kemerer of Iowa in another rematch from the Big Ten finals at 174 pounds. This time Starocci got the better of Kemerer in another overtime victory win for Penn State.
The two traded escape points in the second and third period which sent them to sudden victory overtime. Starocci got in on a deep double leg and converted to pick up the 3-1 overtime upset. Starocci kept the Nittany Lions perfect in the finals with his first career national title.
Top seeded sophomore Aaron Brooks finished off an undefeated finals run for the Nittany Lions against Lewistown native and No. 2 seed Trent Hidlay of NC State at 184 pounds. Brooks reversed Hidlay in the second period and forced a stalling call in the third which would end up being the difference in the match, as he won 3-2.
It appeared Hidlay might have had a late takedown on the edge to put him up 4-3, but he was not awarded the points after an official review. Brooks held on for the win to claim his first national title and keep Penn State undefeated in the finals.
Michael Beard and Greg Kerkvliet won seventh place in the tournament after their victories earlier in the day. Beard won in overtime against Stephen Buchanan of Wyoming at 197 to cap off his tournament with a 4-2 record and earn All-American honors as a freshman. Heavyweight Kerkvliet majored Trent Orndorff of Ohio State 13-1 to also claim All-American honors as a freshman.