PSU Grappler easily defeat Michigan, Michigan State | Center County Gazette

UNIVERSITY PARK — With the postseason less than two months away, Penn State’s No. 1 wrestling team continues to position itself as the class of college wrestling.

The Nittany Lions (10-0, 3-0 B1G) won 16 of 20 fights in two weekend dual meet victories — on Jan. 20 at the Bryce Jordan Center against No. 3 Michigan, 30-8 and Jan. 22 Rec Hall vs. No. 20 Michigan State, 34-6.

“I think it’s fun. What’s more (fun) than one is two matches,” said 174-pounder Carter Starocci. “Our team obviously looked good in both. I think our heads are set on March. That’s the main goal. We are looking forward to it and are getting better every day.”


The Nittany Lions won eight of 10 fights, including two by falls and two by technical falls, against the Spartans. Penn State built a 29-3 advantage in takedowns.

Roman Bravo-Young scored a fall in 6:25 and Shayne Van Ness pinned his opponent in 5:44. Carter Starocci (19-4, 6:39) and Greg Kerkvliet (19-4, 4:15) rolled to fall technical wins. Gary Steen, Beau Bartlett, Alex Facundo and Max Dean won by decision.
Steen helped the Nittany Lions get off to a good start with a 3-1 overtime win at 125. He and No. 24 Tristan Lujan traded escapes in the second and third periods and the game went into overtime in a 1-1 draw. Steen deflected a shot from Lujan early in the third before converting a two-leg attempt with 41.7 seconds left to seal the win.

“That was great. Gary, he can wrestle. I think he’s been a bit self-absorbed for a couple of matches and he’s wrestling with experienced guys,” said head coach Cael Sanderson. “That was great. I think everyone was happy for him. Hopefully that’s contagious and he decides to wrestle like that all the time.”

Leader Bravo-Young extended Penn State’s lead to 9-0 by defeating No. 16 Rayvon Foley. Bravo-Young had built a 13-4 lead with six takedowns before locking Foley with a reverse headlock in 6:25.

“It was great to see Roman wrestle with a certain attitude tonight. He was a little restless tonight. If he wrestles like that, he’s ready to win a gold medal,” Sanderson said.

Bravo-Young said the initial plan was for him to take the day off, but he said he wasn’t happy with his performance on Friday night and decided to wrestle on Sunday.

“I didn’t really like my performance on Friday so I wanted to challenge myself to get the weight down and wrestle,” RBY said. “I had to drive to win that match on Friday but I’m not really a fan of winning a close match when there are so many people watching. I just wanted to get out of here and get revenge.”

“I think the team is on the right track,” said Sanderson. “We have a big game ahead of us this week. That’s why we do it. That is fun.”


Penn State won eight of 10 fights, each 133-197, as it defeated Michigan (7-1, 2-1), 30-8, in front of a Bryce Jordan crowd of 15,975, the sixth-largest indoor crowd, an NCAA wrestling doubles match. All six of them got into the BJC.

The two wins in the middle of that eight-fight sweep made a big difference in the finals. True freshman 157-pounder Levi Haines hit a takedown with 42 seconds left in the sudden winning period for a 3-1 win over No. 10 Will Lewan. Then, at 165, No. 17 Alex Facundo accumulated 14 seconds of driving time advantage over 5 Cameron Amine in the tiebreak periods and that was the difference to a 6-5 win.
“These two helped quite a bit,” Sanderson said of Facundo and Haines, seated to his right in the Jordan Center media room. “For the most part, our guys just fought well in some difficult situations. Michigan has a great team and we will see them again, so we will keep working at what we do and keep getting better. I think the guys wrestled well.”

Facundo, who returned to the lineup after missing the Jan. 6 Wisconsin duals, bounced back from a 4-2 loss to former Iowa State national champion David Carr on Dec. 20 at the Collegiate Duals, Facundo’s only loss of the season.

“First of all, it was pretty fun to wrestle there,” he said. “The audience was quite electrified and it was a unique feeling. my confidence? I just had to keep my head clear and just ignore what everyone was saying.”

Haines made his first home appearance in Penn State and was not disappointed.

“It’s been a really nice experience being close to the area,” said Haines, who grew up about 2.5 hours away in Arendtsville, south of Harrisburg. “I’ve actually only been to one game at the Bryce Jordan Center so far, so it was definitely a unique experience. To be a part of it is just incredible. It’s cool to see some familiar faces in the stands that I know locally, so that’s a very nice touch too.”

After Michigan clinched a 125 technical win, Bravo-Young and Bartlett made back-to-back decisions to put Penn State ahead. RBY had to rely on his driving skills to fend off No. 12 Dylan Ragusin 4-2. Bartlett followed with a 7-2 decision over No. 23 Cole Mattin. Shayne Van Ness followed at 149 with a 14-4 major decision over backup Fidel Mayora.

After Haines and Facundo each had upsets, Penn State won the next three. Starocci scored a fall in 4:14. Aaron Brooks followed with a 14-4 major decision over No. 9 Matt Finesilver at 184. And at 197, Dean dominated with a 10-1 major decision.

Michigan’s second-placed Mason Parris won the night’s tent fight, countering a late frantic takedown attempt from Kerkvliet and scoring the crucial points in a 3-1 decision to end the duel.

“This had the potential to be a really close duel and these two (Haines and Facundo) are getting these big wins… it’s not even about winning the duel, it’s just obviously getting better and making progress ‘ Sanderson said, ‘and going out there and being able to beat two of the best guys in the country like they just did. That’s good stuff.” Next up for Penn State is a showdown with No. 2 Iowa at 8:30 p.m. on Jan. 27 at the Bryce Jordan Center in front of a national television audience on the Big Ten Network.


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