Wrestling Recap: No. 2 Nittany Lions Survive No. 24 Illinois 22-16

By Rob Dougherty on January 11, 2020 at 11:28 am
Mar 16, 2018; Cleveland, OH, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions wrestler Mark Hall reacts to defeating Mizzou Tigers wrestler Daniel Lewis during the NCAA Wrestling DI Wrestling Championships at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
© Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

No. 24 Illinois put up a good fight, but a shorthanded Penn State squad was able to win on Friday night, 22-16. Penn State was without No. 3 Roman Bravo-Young (133), No. 4 Brady Berge (157) and No. 1 Vincenzo Joseph (165). However, thanks to the Nittany Lions' strength from 174 pounds through heavyweight, they were able to fend off the Illini. 

Penn State versus Illinois Match Results
Weight Winner Loser Result
125 Justin Cardani Brandon Meredith Dec. 6-0, Illinois 3-0
133 No. 7 Travis Piotrowski Austin Clabaugh Fall (6:54), Illinois 9-0
141 No. 2 Nick Lee No. 16 Dylan Duncan Maj. Dec. 13-5, Illinois 9-4
149 Jarod Verkleeren Mousa Jodeh Dec. 6-2, Illinois 9-7
157 Eric Barone Bo Pipher Dec. 5-2, Illinois 12-7
165 No. 15 Danny Brunagel Konnor Kraeszig Maj. Dec. 12-3, Illinois 16-7
174 No. 1 Mark Hall No. 8 Joey Gunther DQ for Stalling (6:40), Illinois 16-13
184  No. 8 Aaron Brooks Zach Brunagel  Dec. 9-4, Tied 16-16
197 Shakur Rasheed Matt Wrobelewski Dec. 3-0, PSU 19-16
285 Seth Nevills Luke Luffman Dec. 6-3, PSU 22-16

There was not any news as to why Bravo-Young, Berge, and Joseph were unavailable to wrestle this weekend. It would be unfair to speculate, but it's a real shame that Bravo-Young did not get an opportunity to take on No. 7 Piotrowski. It is unclear whether he will be available for No. 5 Sebastian Rivera of Northwestern on Sunday. 

Penn State had a rough start to this dual when Brandon Meredith lost 6-0 to Justin Cardani after being outwrestled for all seven minutes. For Meredith, who has had a promising start to the season, this loss will sting quite a bit. Austin Clabaugh fell to No. 7 Travis Piotrowski by a late fall with six seconds left in the third period. The fall turned a decision loss to a pin loss, which gave Penn State a 9-0 hole to climb out of. Clabaugh wrestled well, but ultimately was overmatched, and he'll be disappointed to give up the late fall. 

No. 2 Nick Lee got Penn State on the board at 141 pounds in a 13-5 win over No. 16 Dylan Duncan. Lee was up 10-5, but a takedown with one second left turned a decision to a 13-5 major. This was not the best performance Lee has had this season, but he fought until the end to get a valuable team point for the Lions. Jarod Verkleeren won a comfortable 6-2 decision over Mousa Jodeh. It was a solid performance from Verkleeren where his defense shined. 

Bo Pipher filled in for Brady Berge at 157 pounds and lost a 5-2 decision to Eric Barone. Barone was able to win this match with his top game, as he was able to get a two-point nearfall in the second period and nearly rode Pipher out for the entire third period. Konnor Kraeszig wrestled for Vincenzo Joseph at 165 pounds and dropped a 12-3 major decision to No. 15 Danny Brunagel. 

Penn State was trailing 16-7 when No. 1 Mark Hall took on former Iowa Hawkeye No. 8 Joey Gunther. Hall came out firing in this one and had Gunther backpedaling instantly. Gunther had already picked up two stall warnings by the end of the second period. Hall pushed very hard in the third period, but two more Gunther stalls gave Hall a 17-6 lead. The tech fall was possible, but Gunther ended up getting another stall warning for the disqualification and six crucial team points for Penn State. 

No. 8 Aaron Brooks defeated Zach Brunagel in a solid 9-4 decision. Brooks had a 4-2 lead after the second period and had a quick escape to take a 5-2 lead. He was countered on a shot by Brunagel to make the score 5-4. Brooks was able to fend off another shot late and countered for a takedown of his own to post a 9-4 win. 

Shakur Rasheed made his season debut in a 3-0 decision win over Matt Wrobelewski. Rasheed looked predictably rusty and was not able to score a takedown for two periods. However, in the third, he was able to connect on his own shot to finish off the match and win. It will be vital for Rasheed to finish the season strong and establish himself at 197 pounds. 

Seth Nevills made his Rec Hall debut and posted a solid 6-3 win over Luke Luffman. This is a good win for Nevills, as Luffman has had a strong season for the Illini. Nevills' top game was reminiscent of his older brother and former All-American Nick Nevills. He scored an early takedown and amassed over one minute in riding time. To start the third period, Luffman was trailing 3-2 but got in deep on a shot. Nevills was able to counter for a takedown of his own. He ended up winning with 3:04 in riding time amassed. 

Penn State will take on a very talented Northwestern team on Sunday, where they'll hopefully have a stronger lineup.