Lion wrestlers bounce back with blowout
UNIVERSITY PARK — Coming on the heels of a taut, tense, tight loss at No. 1 Iowa on Friday night, the No. 2 Penn State wrestling team had no appetite for another down-to-the-wire thriller on Sunday against Maryland.
Or maybe the Nittany Lions just didn’t want to miss the Super Bowl LIV pregame festivities.
Either way, Penn State (8-2, 5-1 Big Ten) pounded Maryland (2-13, 0-7), 40-3, in front of yet another Rec Hall sellout crowd of 6,414 in just under two hours.
“I think these guys are competitors and they just did what they do,” Penn State Coach Cael Sanderson said of the lopsided win after the close loss to Iowa. “A trip to the Midwest and back then getting ready to wrestle is a nice test and a challenge for them. The guys wrestled well.”
Penn State won nine of 10 bouts, scoring two falls, three technical falls, a major decision and three decisions, even with backups in the lineup at 184 and 197. The Nittany Lions rolled up a 30-3 edge in takedowns.
Maryland grabbed the momentum early, notching its only win at 125 pounds. With the match tied 7-7 at the end of two periods, the Terps’ Brandon Cray escaped and Brandon Meredith couldn’t get the deciding takedown in an 8-7 loss.
From there, Penn State reeled off four straight wins to take a 17-3 lead at the break.
At 133, No. 3 Roman Bravo-Young racked up 11 takedowns to amass a 24-9 technical fall in 7:00.
“I just wanted to keep scoring points. That’s just what I do. I just like wrestling on my feet,” Bravo-Young said. “Just push the pace and if I wrestle like that, I can hang with anyone.”
Second-ranked 141-pounder Nick Lee needed just 5:52 to roll to a 16-0 technical fall over Hunter Baxter.
Jarod Verkleeren posted the first of two straight shutouts for the Nittany Lions, 9-0 over Ryan Garlitz at 149. And, at 157, a second-period reversal and third-period escape were enough for Bo Pipher to earn a 3-0 win over Jahi Jones.
Pipher has shown steady improvement, especially with his offense, as he continues to sub in for his injured teammate, Brady Berge.
“I’m just trying to be myself every match and just get to what I do every day in practice,” he said. “I’m trying to translate what I do in practice every day to make that happen on the weekend.”
Coming out of the break, the Nittany Lions wasted no time in extending their lead to 29-3. Top-ranked Vincenzo Joseph and Mark Hall each used cement mixers to score falls. Joseph took 4:00 to deck Kyle Cochran and Hall disposed of Philip Spadafora in 51 seconds.
“Same technique, different set-ups so it was kind of neat,” Sanderson said of the two pins. “If you have the chance to pin somebody, we need to get the pin. If we can get bonus points, obviously that’s going to play a big part in the Big Ten and national tournaments, and these dual meets, so it’s good to see the guys going for those.”
Creighton Edsell subbed in for Aaron Brooks at 184 and improved his dual meet record to 3-0 with a 5-2 win over Kyle Jasenski.
Then, at 197, Austin Hoopes took Shakur Rasheed’s place and picked up his first dual meet victory as a Nittany Lion, 3-2. Hoopes made a second-period escape and a third-period takedown stand up for the win.
Seth Nevills bounced back from his loss at Iowa on Friday night in a big way. The freshman recorded eight takedowns in a 21-6 technical fall in 6:07.
“I think for the most part we wrestled pretty good. We’ve just to keep building,” Sanderson said of the weekend. “More than anything, it’s just a test of character anytime you go compete. I think, for the most part, our guys did a great job. That’s something we can build off of.”
Penn State returns to the Midwest next weekend to take on Wisconsin at 9 p.m. Friday and Minnesota at 2 p.m. Sunday in its last two road duals of the season.
125: Brandon Cray, MD, dec. Brandon Meredith, 8-7.
133: No. 3 Roman Bravo-Young, PSU, won by tech. fall over King Sandoval, 24-9 (7:00).
141: No. 2 Nick Lee, PSU, won by tech. fall over Hunter Baxter, 16-0 (5:52).
149: Jarod Verkleeren, PSU, maj. Dec. Ryan Garlitz, 9-0.
157: Bo Pipher, PSU, dec. Jahi Jones, 3-0.
165: No. 1 Vincenzo Joseph, PSU, pinned Kyle Cochran, 4:00.
174: No. 1 Mark Hall, PSU, pinned Philip Spadafora, :51.
184: Creighton Edsell, PSU, dec. Kyle Jasenski, 5-2.
197: Austin Hoopes, PSU, dec. Niko Cappello, 3-2.
285: No. 15 Seth Nevills, PSU, won by tech. fall over Parker Robinson, 21-6 (6:07).
Ridge Riley Award winners: Vincenzo Joseph and Mark Hall.
Takedowns: Maryland 3; Penn State 30.
Records: Maryland 2-13, 0-7 B1G; Penn State 8-2, 5-1.
Next match: Penn State at Wisconsin, 9 p.m. Friday.