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No. 2 Penn State defeats Ohio State, 28-12, in college wrestling

As this shortened 2021 wrestling season has unspooled, two trends have emerged for the second-ranked Penn State wrestling team. As the lineup has skewed younger, the Nittany Lions have markedly improved.

Penn State (5-0) won seven of 10 bouts and amassed a 25-4 edge in takedowns in a 28-12 demolition of No. 12 Ohio State on Friday at the Covelli Center in Columbus, Ohio.

The Nittany Lions started five freshmen. And while three of them lost, there was reason for optimism with each.

Penn State got a fall from No. 16 197-pounder Michael Beard, a technical fall from third-ranked 133-pounder Roman Bravo-Young, major decisions from No. 2 141-pounder Nick Lee and No. 2 184-pounder Aaron Brooks and decisions from No. 8 157-pounder Brady Berge, No. 5 174-pounder Carter Starocci and No. 8 285-pounder Seth Nevills.

Ohio State struck first as No. 10 Malik Heinselman used two takedowns to edge Robbie Howard, 5-2.

Penn State took its first lead of the night on the strength of arguably Bravo-Young’s most dominant collegiate win. He used 10 takedowns to overwhelm Jordan Decatur in a 27-8 technical fall in 5:40.

Lee padded the Lions’ lead to 9-3 with a dominant 15-3 major decision over Dylan D’Emilio at 141 pounds.

At 149, Beau Bartlett made his varsity dual meet debut against No. 2 Sammy Sasso. Bartlett struck first on a lightning quick takedown but couldn’t quite match Sasso the rest of the way in a 5-3 loss.

Berge, though, countered that win with a 3-1 decision over Elijah Cleary. With the match tied in the waning seconds, Berge converted on a deep double-leg takedown with 8 seconds left to secure the win.

Penn State’s 12-6 lead evaporated at 165. No. 14 Joe Lee scored the first takedown on No. 10 Ethan Smith. Smith, however escaped and countered a Lee takedown attempt by catching him on his back and pinning him in 2:33.

Any hopes of a Buckeye upset were dashed when Penn State reeled off four wins to close the bout dual meet. It started with an upset at 174.

Starocci was paired with No. 3 Kaleb Romero, a week after Starocci had knocked off then-No. 2 Logan Massa of Michigan. Much like last week, Starocci traded escapes with Romero and the score was tied 1-1 at the end of regulation and through the sudden victory period. Starocci was awarded a takedown in the sudden victory period but a video review off an Ohio State challenge revealed that both wrestlers had gone out of bounds before the takedown and the call was reversed.

Starocci chose bottom to start the first tiebreaker period and escaped for a 1-0 lead. In the second tiebreaker period, Starocci rode out Romero for a 2-1 win. The rising star has inserted himself in the 174-pound title talk with back-to-back wins over the Nos. 2 and 3 wrestlers at the weight.

Riding that momentum, Brooks used five takedowns to engineer a methodical 13-4 major decision over No. 20 Rocky Jordan at 184.

Penn State led 19-12 as Beard took the mat against Gavin Hoffman. Beard powered through on a double-leg takedown and used that momentum to take Hoffman to his back. Beard kept him there, improved his position and eventually scored the fall in 1:20 to clinch the win for the Nittany Lions.

Nevills put a bow on the win for Penn State as he scored a third-period takedown, which proved to be the deciding points in a 3-2 win over No. 16 Tate Orndorff.

It was Penn State’s sixth consecutive win over Ohio State. Those two teams have combined to win the last nine NCAA championships. The Nittany Lions, of course, own eight of those.

Penn State wrestles its one and only home dual of the season when it hosts Maryland at 6 p.m. Monday at Rec Hall. The match is scheduled to be televised live on Big Ten Network.

The Terps’ home dual with Rutgers on Friday night was “postponed out of an abundance of caution surrounding the health and safety of the participants due to positive COVID-19 testing results in the Scarlet Knights’ program” according to a statement from Maryland.

No. 2 Penn State 28, No. 12 Ohio State 12

(Friday at Columbus, Ohio)

125: No. 10 Malik Heinselman, OSU, dec. Robbie Howard, 5-2. 133: No. 3 Roman Bravo-Young, PSU, tech. fall Jordan Decatur, 27-8 (5:40). 141: No. 2 Nick Lee, PSU, maj. dec. Dylan D’Emilio, 15-3. 149: No. 2 Sammy Sasso, OSU, dec. Beau Bartlett, 5-3. 157: No. 8 Brady Berge, PSU, dec, Elijah Cleary, 3-1. 165: No. Ethan Smith, OSU, pinned No. 14 Joe Lee, 2:33. 174: No. 5 Carter Starocci, PSU, dec. No. 3 Kaleb Romero, 2-1 TB. 184: No. 2 Aaron Brooks, PSU, maj. dec. No. 20 Rocky Jordan, 13-4. 197: No. 16 Micael Beard, PSU, pinned Gavin Hoffman, 1:20. 285: No. 8 Seth Nevills, PSU, dec. No. 16 Tate Orndorff, 3-2

Referee: Angel Hernandez.

Ernie Lucas Award winner: Michael Beard.

Takedowns: Penn State 25; Ohio State 3.

Records: Penn State (5-0), Ohio State (5-4). Next match: Maryland at Penn State, 6 p.m. Monday.

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