With the Big Ten Wrestling Championships set to get underway this weekend at the Bryce Jordan Center, you’d expect most wrestlers to have some nerves leading into a competition that’s known to be one of the toughest in the country. Penn State’s Roman Bravo-Young is not one of those guys.
The 133-pounder is 6-0 so far on the year. After placing second at last year’s Big Tens, the fast-paced junior is likely to be the No. 1 seed heading into this year’s tournament. For a competitor that’s as relaxed as Bravo-Young, that’s not something to be worried about.
When Bravo-Young spoke to the media on Tuesday, he preached about wrestling to the best of his ability and letting things unravel from there. The main goal for him is to win when it really matters: the NCAA Championships.
“I just go out there and perform. I don’t really care about winning or losing…fifth is fine, second is fine,” Bravo-Young said. “If I know I’m out there and giving it my all and I lose because he’s better than me, then I have no problem with that. I think I gotta go out there and do what I do best, just perform and just give it my all.”
One thing on his mind heading into the weekend is that he’ll get the chance to wrestle at home with limited fans in attendance. Penn State wrestling announced Tuesday that there will be “limited player guests” able to attend the tournament this weekend, something that most wrestlers would be excited for in order to feed off the crowd’s energy. For Bravo-Young, the silence puts him at ease.
“I kinda like the no-fans thing. Everyone is talking about fans, fans…I like the no-fans approach,” he said.
“It’s all hectic. I’m just a chill guy… I’m just laid back, chill, I do my thing and get off,” he continued. “It’s quiet, and that’s what I like. The fans…it’s noisy, it’s loud. You can hear it in your headgear.”
Aside from wrestling in front of limited fans, getting to compete in a tournament at home is something Bravo-Young is excited for. Penn State is hosting the tournament for the first time since 2009.
“It’s a vibe. I’m going to be sleeping in my own bed. Like Nick [Lee] said, I can just go home in between each session if I want to. We get to train in our own wrestling room…I feel like I am defending my turf,” Bravo-Young said. “It’s a lot more comfortable, and it’s cool not having to travel, because that gets old.”
After coming up just short at last year’s Big Ten Championships in a 7-2 loss to Sebastian Rivera, Bravo-Young has an opportunity to win his first conference title this weekend. If he had to choose though, he’d rather be at the top of the podium in St. Louis after the NCAA Championships than Sunday night in the Bryce Jordan Center.
“I’d rather win NCAA titles than a Big Ten title, so I’m not even worried,” he said. “Whatever happens, happens, and then I gotta be ready for the big show.”