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Penn State wrestlers dominate Rutgers

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UNIVERSITY PARK – What a difference a week makes. Penn State found its swagger again and Aaron Brooks led the way.

The potential of  Brooks is off the charts and on Sunday evening, in front of a prime-time audience watching on ESPN2, the Nittany Lion freshman put on quite a show.

Brooks (8-0) built up a 5-0 lead on Billy Janzer (14-5) before locking up a cradle for the fall in 4:36 leading Penn State to the 38-6 victory over Rutgers in a Big Ten dual meet at Rec Hall.

The Nittany Lions are 21-0 lifetime against the Scarlet Knights (7-3, 2-2), who had five freshmen in their starting lineup.

Penn State won eight matches, scoring bonus points in five, to improve to 6-1 on the season and 3-0 in the Big Ten.

“The guys wrestled pretty good. We have to keep getting better as the season goes along. I think that’s what happening,” Penn State coach Cael Sanderson said. “There’s always something we can go back, look at, and tweak. That’s what makes it fun. Overall, the guys looked a little sharper than they did a week ago.”

The Nittany Lions held a slim 11-6 lead before rattling off five consecutive wins to cruise to victory.

Top-ranked Vincenzo Joseph (6-0) started the run, building up a 15-3 lead on Brett Donner at 165 before hitting the cradle for the fall in 6:15.

Penn State made it 23-6 after Mark Hall, ranked first at 174, was in deep on a single and wrenched the knee of Joseph Grello, forcing a default at the 6:37 mark. Hall (15-0) led 6-2 before the injury.

The Brooks fall at 184 made the score 29-6, clinching the dual and setting up Shakur Rasheed at 197.

After a lackluster performance against Northwestern, the PSU senior righted his ship with a solid 6-0 victory over 18th-ranked Jordan Pagano. Rasheed had a takedown in the first, a stall point and reversal in the second and closed with a riding-time point.

“It’s just about getting his confidence and making progress. I think he did that today. He is looking good. It’s just every match, keep climbing,” Sanderson said. “We’ve got a month and a half and his goal is a national title, so that’s what we’re moving toward.”

At heavyweight, Seth Nevills (9-0) continues to impress with a pin in 2:24 over Alex Esposito. The Nittany Lion freshman had an 8-0 lead at the time of the fall.

Third-ranked Roman Bravo-Young had the battle of his young career against No. 9 Sammy Alvarez before pulling out the 4-2 victory in double overtime.

Bravo Young (12-0) and Alvarez battled to a 1-1 tie after regulation and sudden victory. Both wrestlers escaped in the rideouts forcing a second overtime on their feet. Bravo-Young kept attacking until finally scoring the match-winner with .2seconds left in the second sudden victory OT.

“He stood around a little bit. His opponent was obviously a really tough kid,” Sanderson said “When he needed to score, he went and scored. I think he found himself in a tough match. I don’t know if he was expecting that or not, but he got tough and got the job done.”

At 141, second-ranked Nick Lee improved to 11-0 on the season with a commanding 19-4 technical fall over JoJo Aragona. Lee had seven takedowns in the match.

Jarod Verkleeren (12-2) collected two takedowns in the first on his way to a 7-3 win over Nick Santos at 149 pounds. The Nittany Lion sophomore added an escape in the second and a takedown in the third.

“We’re going to wrestle our best team. That’s obviously the plan. This team, our team, has a lot of potential,” Sanderson said. “Just like any other year whoever scores the most points wins. Individually, if you want to be a national champion you have to score more than the other guy. It’s not easy, but we want to make things as simple as possible. This is a fun team, we have the potential to score a lot of points, but we have to go do that.”

The only wins for Rutgers came at 125 where Nicholas Aguilar defeated Brandon Meredith 10-4 and Michael Van Brill eked out a 1-0 tiebreaker victory over Bo Pipher at 157.

Penn State won the takedown battle 24-3. The Nittany Lions travel to Nebraska on Friday with match time beginning at 7 p.m.

#2 Penn State 38, #22 Rutgers 6

125: #16 Nicolas Aguilar RU dec. Brandon Meredith PSU, 10-4                           0-3

133: #3 Roman Bravo-Young PSU dec. #9 Sammy Alvarez RU, 4-2 (SV2)           3-3

141: #2 Nick Lee PSU tech fall JoJo Aragona RU, 19-4 (TF; 7:00)                       8-3

149: Jarod Verkleeren PSU dec. Nick Santos RU, 7-3                                         11-3.

157: Mike Van Brill RU dec. Bo Pipher PSU, 1-0 (TB1)                                        11-6.

165: #1 Vincenzo Joseph PSU pinned Brett Donner RU, WBF (6:15)                   17-6

174: #1 Mark Hall PSU inj. def. Joseph Grello RU, Inj. Def. (6:37)                        23-6

184: #8 Aaron Brooks PSU pinned Billy Janzer RU, WBF (4:36)                          29-6

197: #20 Shakur Rasheed PSU dec. #18 Jordan Pagano RU, 6-0                        32-6

285: Seth Nevills PSU pinned Alex Esposito RU, WBF (2:24)                              38-6

Records: Penn State (6-1, 3-0 B1G); Rutgers (7-3, 2-2)

Up Next for Penn State: Friday, Jan. 24, 2020, at Nebraska, 7 p.m. Eastern / 6 p.m. Central (BTN)

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