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Upper weights lead PSU to victory over Lehigh

STATE COLLEGE — For the second dual meet in a row, Penn State had to call on its upper weights to salvage a win. And, once again, those upper weights were up to the task.

The Nittany Lions came out of intermission trailing 10-7 on Sunday and swept to wins from 165 through 197 to turn away rival Lehigh, 23-16, in front of a sell-out crowd of 6,496 in Rec Hall.

“We knew a week ago that this weekend was going to be a challenge, but also an opportunity, an opportunity for guys to step up, for guys who wouldn’t be in the lineup regularly. It was a chance for everybody to step up, whether you were new to the lineup or if you’re somebody that we need bonus points out of,” Penn State coach Cael Sanderson said.

Sanderson said three waves of flu have hit the team over the last three weeks. That caused some major shuffling of the lineup as wrestlers were stricken and recovering at varying rates.

“We knew it was gonna be tough. Penn and Lehigh are obviously great programs and they have tough kids and great coaching staffs. We got through injury free, too. Kids are wrestling and they’re not at 100 percent. That’s one of the things you worry about as a coach is just getting them through and just making sure they are taken care of.”

Penn State won six of nine contested bouts, forfeiting at heavyweight again with Greg Kerkvliet still not fully recovered from the flu. The Nittany Lions, as usual, piled up a big disparity in takedowns, 24-5.

Like Friday night at Penn, Creighton Edsell, Carter Starocci, Donovan Ball, who was subbing in for an ill Aaron Brooks, and Max Dean won to power Penn State’s comeback.

Edsell used 1:23 in riding time to edge No. 27 Brian Meyer, 2-1, to start the streak and tie the dual at 10-10. He delivered a much-needed win on Friday, too. He said he didn’t feel pressure in either situation.

“I don’t really feel any different. Honestly, I didn’t even know we were losing. I don’t really pay too much attention to the team score just because that outside stuff getting into your head could play games with you.”

Starocci followed with yet another dominating performance, majoring Jake Logan 13-3. And, at 184, Ball used takedowns in the first and second period to fashion a 5-3 win over A.J. Burkhart in Ball’s Rec Hall debut.

“I think Ball did a great job. He had two competitive matches,” Sanderson said. “He got the opportunity and they were big matches and he went out there and got that done.”

Dean once again secured the win for Penn State. This time he scored an early takedown, turned J.T. Davis for four points, and then hooked up a bow and arrow, turned Davis and pinned him in 2:58.

Sanderson chose to forfeit at 285 to No. 10 Jordan Wood of Lehigh. Had the dual meet been in the balance, Sanderson said All-American 197-pounder Michael Beard, now a backup to Dean, was ready to step in. He would have been outweighed by 80 pounds as Wood weighed in at 281, Beard at 201.

Lehigh held a 10-7 lead at intermission after two close, contentious bouts at 149 and 157.

At 149, Manzona Bryant IV used an escape and late takedown to edge No. 20 Beau Bartlett, 6-5. Bartlett appeared to have a tying escape in the waning seconds but a video review denied that score.

Again, at 157, Lehigh came out on top in a tight bout. No. 10 Josh Humphreys held off a game effort by Tony Negron, who was making his varsity debut. Negron was awarded a late go-ahead takedown, but the third video review of the bout reversed that decision and Humphreys hung on for a 5-4 win.

Sanderson said that “we’re trying to figure out” what to do at 157, since Negron stepped in for previous starter Terrell Barraclough.

Penn State got wins at 133 and 141 from a pair of defending NCAA champions. Roman Bravo-Young returned to the lineup at 133 after a bout with the flu. He racked up nine takedowns in a 19-7 major decision over Mountain Hawk backup Sheldon Seymour.

And, at 141, Nick Lee continued to round into form after his own brush with the flu, posting a 13-6 decision. It was his 100th career win at Penn State, a fact that seemed to catch him off guard.

“I didn’t even know I had 100 matches,” he said, “but I guess it’s pretty cool.”

Lehigh started the bout with an 11-3 major decision by No. 14 Jaret Lane over Jake Campbell, the transfer from Bucknell who was making his varsity debut for Penn State.

The Nittany Lions have a two-week break from competition to finish the semester this week and complete finals next week. They return to action on Dec. 20-21 in Niceville, Florida, at the Collegiate Wrestling Duals.

No. 2 Penn State 23, Lehigh 16

125: No. 14 Jaret Lane, L, maj. dec. Jack Campbell, 11-3. 133: No. 1 Roman Bravo-Young, PSU, maj. dec. Sheldon Seymour, 19-7. 141: No. 1 Nick Lee, PSU, dec. Connor McGonagle, 13-6. 149: Manzona Bryant IV, L dec. No. 20 Beau Bartlett, 6-5. 157: No. 10 Josh Humphreys, L, dec. Tony Negron, 5-4. 165: No. 32 Creighton Edsell, PSU, dec. No. 27 Brian Meyer, 2-1. 174: No. 1 Carter Starocci, PSU, maj. dec. Jake Logan, 13-3. 184: Donovan Ball, PSU, dec. A.J. Burkhart, 5-3. 197: No. 4 Max Dean, PSU, pinned J.T. Davis, 2:58. 285: No. 10 Jordan Wood, L, won by forfeit.

Ridge Riley Award winner: Max Dean.

Referees: Angel Riveral; Nathan Chapman.

Attendance: 6,496.

Takedowns: Lehigh 5; Penn State 24.

Records: Lehigh (3-2), Penn State (5-0). Next match: Penn State at Collegiate Wrestling Duals on Dec. 20-21 in Niceville, Fla.

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