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PSU Senior night delight; wrestlers dominate 40-3 over American U.

By BRIAN CARSON

Photo by Tim Weight

UNIVERSITY PARK – Penn State sent its senior wrestlers off in grand style after a 40-3 thrashing of American University Sunday afternoon at Rec Hall in the final dual meet of the season.

The second-ranked Nittany Lions (12-2) dominated from the start winning nine bouts, scoring bonus points in five. Penn State owned the takedown battle 24-3.

“The guys are wrestling well. I think we’ll find out as we get to the Big Tens and the Nationals,” Penn State coach Cael Sanderson said. “I feel like they’re wrestling the best that they have. I think that the attitude and the perspective are on point right now, where we need to be.”

Seniors Vincenzo Joseph, Mark Hall and Shakur Rasheed picked up falls on Senior Day and Jarod Verkleeren scored the big victory in the featured matchup of the dual at 149.

Nick Lee started things off at 141 with a 7-3 win over Sal Profaci. The Nittany Lion junior had two takedowns in the first, a reversal in the second and a point for riding time.

Verkleeren, trailing 1-0 entering the third, had an escape and with three seconds left, scored on a counter shot for the 3-1 win over No. 8 Kizhan Clarke.

He shot a double and I kind of had my arm down ready,” Verkleeren said. “I slid it up and kind of body locked him to get the takedown. We were in that body lock position a little earlier and I felt he was hesitant a little there, so I thought if we did get into one there I could squeak one by.”

At 157, Luke Gardner rallied from a 3-0 deficit with an escape and three takedowns in the third for the 7-5 win over Ethan Karsten giving Penn State the 9-0 lead. Sanderson announced that Brady Berge (1-1) is done for the season, leaving Gardnerand Bo Pipher to battle it out at 157 for the postseason.

I would say he’s definitely done for the season,” Sanderson said. “We have to figure that one out. Luke’s got some great stuff; he’s got some great attacks and he did a nice job. Coming back in the third period, that could be a confidence-builder. He scrambled hard and that has to be something he’s feeling good about. I thought he wrestled well. You want to be scoring those takedowns late, that’s what we want in our program, so that’s good to see.”

Joseph and Hall made their last matches in Rec Hall memorable ones with back-to-back falls at 165 and 174. Joseph built an 8-0 lead before cranking Tim Fitzpatrick to his back for the fall in four minutes. Hall followed with a six-point move before clamping Connor Allshouse in 2:33. The pins gave the Nittany Lions a 21-0 lead at the break.

Aaron Brooks kept the Blue and White express rolling with an 8-5 decision over Tanner Harvey at 184. The Penn State freshman piled up a 7-3 lead after one and held Harvey off the rest of the way.

Rasheed made it 30-0 with a fall in 1:04. The Nittany Lion senior held a 4-1 advantage before locking up a cradle for the pin.

“I guess walking out there was kind of bittersweet. I like Senior Night; it’s the last bang. I was thinking I wanted to end my last match with a cradle because that’s what got me rolling,” Rasheed said. “That’s what the fans love. It was definitely special. A lot of people hit me up and said, ‘hey, get that cradle,’ and I said, ‘I’ll see what I can do.”’

At 285, Seth Nevills broke open a slim 1-0 lead with nine points in the third for the 10-2 major decision over Niko Camacho. Nevills collected two takedowns, a four-point nearfall and a riding time point in the decisive frame.

American (4-8) got its only win of the dual when Gage Curry, a high-school standout at North Hills, notched the winning takedown in sudden victory for the 4-2 win over Brandon Meredith at 125 pounds.

Roman Bravo-Young closed out the match in impressive fashion with nine takedowns in less than two minutes before pinning Joshua Vega at 1:10.

After the match, Sanderson confirmed that Penn State will host the 2021 Big Ten Wrestling Championships.

“Yeah,” he said, “we’re hosting the Big Ten next year.”

The Nittany Lions honored seniors Joseph, Hall, Rasheed, Kyle Conel, Austin Clabaugh, Dom Giannangeli and Devin Schnupp, who’s leaving school early.

Penn State travels to Piscataway, New Jersey for the Big Ten Championships, March 7-8.

#2 Penn State 40, American 3

141: #1 Nick Lee PSU dec. Sal Profaci AU, 7-3                                                  

149: #17 Jarod Verkleeren PSU dec. #8 Kizhan Clarke AU, 3-1                          

157: Luke Gardner PSU dec. Ethan Karsten AU, 7-5                                          

165: #1 Vincenzo Joseph PSU pinned Tim Fitzpatrick AU, WBF (4:00)                

174: #2 Mark Hall PSU pinned Conner Allshouse AU, WBF (2:33)                      

184: #6 Aaron Brooks PSU dec. Tanner Harvey AU, 8-5                                      

197: #18 Shakur Rasheed PSU pinned William Jarrell AU, WBF (1:04)              

285: #17 Seth Nevills PSU major dec. Niko Camacho AU, 10-2                            

125: Gage Curry AU dec. Brandon Meredith PSU, 3-1 (SV)                                

133: #2 Roman Bravo-Young PSU pinned Joshua Vega AU, WBF (1:10)            

Records: Penn State (12-2, 8-1 B1G); American (4-8)

Up Next for Penn State: at 2020 Big Ten Championship, March 7-8, Piscataway, N.J.

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