Session 2 Recap: Penn State Puts Four in Finals

By Rob Dougherty on March 7, 2021 at 9:03 am
Carter Starocci clinched his spot in NCAAs and his first Big Ten final in Session 2.

Penn State rebounded very well from Session 1, and brought themselves up to second place in the team race. The Nittany Lions went 4-0 in the semifinals and 13-2 overall in the session. They also picked up quite a few bonus points in the wrestlebacks to recover from their slow Session 1 start. Penn State also qualified nine wrestlers for NCAAs.

Penn State Semifinals Matches

Weight Result
133 No. 1 Roman Bravo-Young dec. No. 4 Chris Cannon (Northwestern), 8-3
141 No. 2 Nick Lee dec. No. 3 Sebastian Rivera (Rutgers), 8-6 SV-1
174 No. 3 Carter Starocci dec. No. 2 Michael Labriola (Nebraska), 3-1 SV-1
184 No. 1 Aaron Brooks maj. dec. No. 5 John Poznanski (Rutgers), 10-2 

The match of the tournament happened at 141 pounds when Nick Lee defeated Sebastian Rivera in the first period of sudden victory 8-6. This match got off to a flying start with Rivera notching the first takedown early, and Lee escaped and scored a takedown of his own to make it 3-3. The second period featured a turning point in the match though when Rivera was up 5-4 but was penalized for locked hands. The bonus point for Lee allowed his escape to swing the match 6-5 in his favor heading into the third. 

Rivera chose bottom and escaped to make the match 6-6. What happened over the rest of the period was some of the most tantalizing scrambles you can see in a wrestling match. Their sequence at the end of the third somehow ended with neither of them scoring a takedown. However, in sudden victory, they had another crazy scramble that Lee was able to win and clinch his spot in the Big Ten finals. 

The other close semifinal was contested at 174 pounds between Carter Starocci and Michael Labriola. This one also made it to sudden victory but did not have the same fireworks as the match at 141 pounds for about six minutes. The final minute and sudden victory period exploded into life. They each got close to securing match-winning takedowns, but it was Starocci in sudden victory finally finishing a shot and won the match. Starocci will take on No. 1 Michael Kemerer (Iowa) in tomorrow's final. 

Roman Bravo-Young and Aaron Brooks both won fairly convincing to secure their place in the finals. Bravo-Young looked like he was potentially on his way to a major decision, but Cannon wrestled hard and worked his way back in the match. Cannon nearly scored a big takedown late in the second, but Bravo-Young's incredible defense kept the match at 4-3. Bravo-Young added a takedown, escape and riding time point in the third for the 8-3 win. Bravo-Young will face No. 2 Austin Desanto (Iowa) in tomorrow's final. 

Brooks looked healthy in his 10-2 major decision win over John Poznanski. Poznanski wrestled pretty well, but Brooks ultimately was just too much for the freshman. Brooks will take on No. 6 Taylor Venz (Nebraska) in the final, and Brooks went 1-1 against him last season. 

Penn State Consolation Matches

Weight Result
125 No. 11 Robert Howard maj. dec. No. 13 Dylan Shawver (Rutgers), 10-1
125 No. 11 Robert Howard dec. No. 9 Dylan Ragusin (Michigan), 3-1 SV-1
149 No. 4 Yahya Thomas (Northwestern) dec. No. 11 Beau Bartlett, 7-5 SV-1
157 No. 5 Brady Berge maj. dec. No. 11 Michael Doetsch (Maryland), 11-2
157 No. 5 Brady Berge maj. dec. No. 10 Caleb Licking (Nebraska), 12-2
165 No. 6 Joe Lee pin No. 5 Andrew Sparks (Minnesota), WBF :44
165 No. 9 Gerrit Nijenhaus (Purdue) pin No. 6 Joe Lee, WBF 4:29
197 No. 7 Michael Beard dec. No. 8 Matt Wrobelewski (Illinois), 6-2
197 No. 7 Michael Beard dec. No. 6 Thomas Penola (Purdue), 6-5
285 No. 7 Greg Kerkvliet maj. dec. No. 9 Christian Rebottaro (Michigan State), 16-5
285 No. 7 Greg Kerkvliet dec. No. 6 Trent Hillger (Wisconsin), 7-3

Robert Howard, Brady Berge, Joe Lee, Michael Beard, and Greg Kerkvliet also all punched their tickets to NCAAs. 

Howard went 2-0 with a big win over No. 9 Dylan Ragusin in sudden victory and a major decision win over Dylan Shawzer. Against Ragusin, Howard looked to have a match-winning takedown but it was called off on review, but Howard came back and scored another one before the sudden victory period expired. 

Berge dominated his two matches in the consolation round, winning them both by a combined score of 23-4. Joe Lee went 1-1, and he got a first-period fall in his first match, but struggled to get out from the bottom and was pinned by Gerrit Nijenhaus in the second.

Beard went 2-0 in the consolation round and wrestled well against No. 6 Thomas Penola to clinch his NCAA ticket. Beard gave up a third-period takedown but was able to escape for the 6-5 win. Kerkvliet also went 2-0 with big wins over No. 9 Christian Rebottaro and No. 6 Trent Hillger. 

Unfortunately, Beau Bartlett's season likely has come to an end following his loss to Yahya Thomas 7-5 in sudden victory. Bartlett does meet some of the qualifications for an at-large bid but does not have a huge body of work at 149 pounds. I anticipate that he will be left out of the NCAA Tournament.