Penn State’s Nick Lee made history, and teammate Roman Bravo-Young set up Round 8 with Austin DeSanto of Iowa during Friday’s quarterfinal round at the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships.
Penn State completed a full quarterfinal round, with the help of a challenge from a wise coach, to send six wrestlers into Friday night’s semifinals. Lee made the group headlines, dropping 141 pounds to win, becoming the program’s first five-time All-American.
The Nittany Lions (73 points) also took a 10.5-point lead over Michigan in the team standings. Next up: the semifinals, which begin Friday at 8 p.m. at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit. ESPN Television will.
The semi-finals featured Bravo-Young (133) and Lee along with fellow returning champions Carter Staroki (174) and Aaron Brooks (184). Top seed Max Dean (197) and fourth seed Greg Kerkvaliet (285) also advanced, giving Penn State six All-Americans for the seventh time under head coach Kyle Sanderson.
However, three Nittany Lions were eliminated from the tournament on Friday, with the semifinalists chasing the team-title. Brady Burge, who returned to Penn State after retiring from the sport last year, lost 8-3 in the third round to Peyton Robb of Nebraska. Burge wrestled Rob for a long time after a grueling 4–3 win in consolation over Johnny Lovett of Central Michigan.
10th-seeded Burge finished his tournament 2-2, although Sanderson did not feel he was seeded properly.
At age 125, a wrestler transferred from Penn State ended up relocating to Penn State. Brody Teske of Northern Iowa defeated Drew Hildebrandt of Penn State 8-4. Hildebrandt, a senior who moved from Central Michigan, finished the season 10–5.
Beau Bartlett (149) fell in the second consolation round and was eliminated. He played the season 15-10. signed off
A look at Penn State’s six semifinalists.
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133: Weight’s top seed Bravo-Young continued his major tournament run with a 13–6 decision over Brian Courtney of Virginia. Now, Bravo-Young (20-0) faces an opponent he is familiar with. Bravo-Young and DeSanto have wrestled seven times in college, with Bravo-Young leading 5-2. He has defeated DeSanto five times in a row, including a 3-1 decision for the Big Ten title earlier this month.
141: With his quarterfinal-round pin from Oregon State’s Grant Willits (3:45), Lee became Penn State’s first five-time All-American. Lee (20-0) meets the No. 4 seed Stanford’s Real Woods (17-1), the highest-ranked wrestler behind top seed Lee. Penn State senior is looking to put an end to a sterling career with his second NCAA title. Lee finished fifth twice and was voted a First Team All-American in 2020 after the NCAA canceled the wrestling championship.
174: Starocci (21–0) had some trouble with Nebraska’s Mickey Labriola, turning in a 6–1 decision to become a two-time All-American. 1 seed Staroki meets North Carolina State’s No. 4 Hayden Hiddle (17-2) in the semifinals.
184: Brooks, now a three-time All-American, defeated Ohio State’s Caleb Romero 13-2. Brooks has been a bonus-point maker for Penn State, with three major nationals. Brooks (19-1) meets unbeaten Trent Hiddle (20-0) of North Carolina State in the semifinals. Brooks is seeded second, Hiddley third.
197: Top seed Dean clashed with Lou Deprez of Binghamton, giving him the advantage of a coach’s challenge in the third period to a 4–3 decision. Sanderson wisely challenged an unwanted takedown in the third, a move that went Penn State’s way and gave top seed Dean a 4-2 lead. It was a huge turning point, as Deprez had a riding-time advantage. However, Dean reached the semi-finals for the second time in his career. He finished second in 2019 with 184 while wrestling for Cornell. Dean meets Gavin Hoffman of Ohio State, the 21st seed of the bracket, who is looking for his fourth upset in the tournament. Dean defeated Hoffman 5-3 in a surprise win in their February double meet
285: Kerkvliet defeated Christian Lance of Nebraska for the third time this season to reach the semi-finals for the first time, 7-1. His opponent: NCAA and defending Olympic freestyle champion Gable Stevenson of Minnesota. Stevenson actually dropped the first takedown of his quarterfinal match against Northwestern’s Lucas Davidson before winning 10–5. The last NCAA wrestler to defeat Steven was Penn State’s Anthony Kaiser in the 2019 semifinals.
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