NCAA Day 1 Recap: Nittany Lions Stay Close to Iowa

By Rob Dougherty on March 19, 2021 at 11:11 am
Aaron Brooks is one of 7 Penn State quarterfinalists.

Penn State sits solidly in the second place after the first day of the 2021 NCAA Championships. The Nittany Lions went 15-3 across the two sessions and have seven wrestlers in the quarterfinals for today's Session 3. Here are the current team standings: 

Team points will start to shoot up in Session 3, as every win on the championship side earns a wrestler All-American status and guarantees no worse than a sixth place finish. Here is a breakdown weight-by-weight to how Penn State's wrestlers performed in the first day. 

125 Pounds - Robert Howard

Robert Howard picked up a huge upset win over No. 10 Malik Heinselman (Ohio State) by a 6-4 decision. He was able to get a reversal and four near fall points against Heinselman in the second to put the match out of reach. Howard followed that up with a loss to No. 7 Taylor Lamont (Utah Valley) in the second round. Howard was in the match, but could not get out from bottom and lost via a riding time point 2-1. 

Howard will face Fabian Gutierrez (Chattanooga) in the consolation second round, and if he wins that he will face the winner of Patrick McKee (Minnesota) and Codi Russell (Appalachian State) later in Session 3. 

133 Pounds - Roman Bravo-Young

Roman Bravo-Young wrestled very well and picked up 2.5 bonus points for the team on Thursday. He defeated Sean Carter (Appalachian State) by a 20-5 tech fall, and Kyle Burwick (Wisconsin) by an 11-3 major decision. Bravo-Young will get the always game No. 10 Louie Hayes (Virginia) in the quarterfinals. 

141 Pounds - Nick Lee

Nick Lee had a very strong day one as well, and won a match by a major decision and technical fall. Lee beat Julian Flores (Drexel) 18-0, and Clay Carlson (South Dakota State) 14-3. Lee will face No. 10 Zachary Sherman (North Carolina). 

157 Pounds - Brady Berge

Brady Berge was one of the biggest surprises of the first day, as the No. 12 seed is into the quarterfinals. Berge defeated Andrew Cerniglia (Navy) by a 12-4 major decision in the first session. In the evening session, Berge pulled off a 3-2 upset win over the five-seed Kaleb Young (Iowa). The win means Berge will take on No. 4 Jesse Dellavecchia (Rider) in Session 3. 

165 Pounds - Joe Lee

Joe Lee's season came to an end on Day 1 of the NCAA Championships. He lost an 8-1 decision to Travis Wittlake (Oklahoma State) in the first round. In the first consolation round, Lee lost to Andrew Nicholson (Chattanooga) by a 10-4 decision. 

174 Pounds - Carter Starocci

Carter Starocci went 2-0 on the day and picked up bonus points in the first round, with a 10-2 major decision over Victor Macelli (Virginia). In the second round, Starocci won 8-2 over Hayden Hastings (Wyoming). Starocci will face No. 6 Andrew McNally (Kent State) in Session 3. 

184 Pounds - Aaron Brooks

Aaron Brooks had a strong start to the NCAA Tournament with a first round tech fall win over Jhaquan Anderson (Gardner Webb). Brooks followed that up with a 5-0 decision over Owen Webster (Minnesota). Brooks will face a Big Ten final rematch in the quarterfinals against No. 8 Taylor Venz (Nebraska). 

197 Pounds - Michael Beard

Michael Beard's bracket really opened up when No. 2 seed Eric Schultz (Nebraska) lost in the first round to No. 31 Owen Pentz (North Dakota State), and Beard seized the initiative. He defeated Jacob Koser (Navy) by a 14-4 major decision, then defeated Pentz in round two by a 17-8 major decision. Beard will face No. 26 Jake Woodley (Oklahoma) for a shot in tonight's semifinals. 

285 Pounds - Greg Kerkvliet

Greg Kerkvliet had a great first day of the NCAA Tournament. He defeated Johnathan Biechmeier (Navy) by a 18-0 first period technical fall. In the second round, Kerkvliet handily beat Jordan Wood (Lehigh) by a 12-2 major decision. He will face No. 1 Gable Steveson (Minnesota) in the quarterfinals.