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PSU wrestlers win nail biter over Ohio St

By BRIAN CARSON

UNIVERSITY PARK – Nick Lee electrified the standing room only crowd of 15,995 at the Bryce Jordan Center leading second-ranked Penn State to the 20-16 Big Ten wrestling victory over No. 3 Ohio State on Saturday evening.

In the battle of 1 vs. 2, Lee gave up the opening takedown totop-ranked Luke Pletcher and then dominated the rest of the way for the 8-4 victory at 141 pounds.

Pletcher took a 2-0 lead with a lightning-fast takedown early in the first period. Lee escaped to make it 2-1 after one.

“It’s just seven minutes of wrestling,” Lee said. “You’re going to give up takedowns sometimes. It’s all right; you just keep wrestling through the whole match.”

It was all Lee the rest of the way.

Pletcher escaped to knot it at 2-2 before Lee got the takedown and rode out the Buckeye senior. Lee escaped to start the third and hit the decisive takedown for the 7-4 advantage. A riding time point for the Nittany Lion junior set the final score and brought the crowd to its feet.

“Nick is extremely consistent,” Penn State coach CaelSanderson said. “The way he trains year-round, his lifestyle, those things pay off and we’re seeing that. … Nick is a pretty darn good wrestler and when you match the skill with the commitment, this is what you get.”

Down 9-6 at the break, Penn State (11-2, 8-1) won three of the last five bouts, scoring bonus points in all three, to salt the dual meet away.

Top-ranked Vincenzo Joseph struggled early against Ethan Smith before controlling the second and third periods in a 13-5 major decision victory.

With the score 3-3 after one, Joseph chose down, escaped and scored off a double leg. A second stall call against Smith made it 6-3 heading into the third. The Nittany Lion senior recorded a two-point nearfall and two takedowns, the final one coming with just three seconds left to give Joseph the bonus-point victory.

Second-ranked Mark Hall made quick work of Kaleb Romaro, hitting the cement mixer for the fall in 46 seconds, giving Penn State the 16-9 lead.

“(The advantage came) pretty quick,” Hall said. “I knew he was going to shoot with his right hand, so I just got where I was good and made him pay the price. I kind of learned my lesson from the Iowa match. If I do something big, I’ve got to put it away.”

At 184, freshman Aaron Brooks keeps getting better with each match and he showed it with six takedowns in a 15-4 major over nationally ranked Rocky Jordan. Brooks had three takedowns in the first, an escape, takedown and stall point in the second, and two takedowns and a riding time point in the third.

“Aaron is getting more and more comfortable with each match. He is a heck of an athlete and a major talent,” Sanderson said. “This was probably his best match of the season. I look forward to him making some noise in the postseason.”

Ohio State (10-4, 6-3) won the final two bouts when top-ranked Kollin Moore racked up six of the Buckeyes’ 12 takedowns in a 14-6 major decision over Shakur Rasheed at 197. Gary Traub, outweighed by 30 pounds, scored off a single leg with nine seconds to go to beat Seth Nevills 5-4 at 285 pounds.

The Buckeyes opened the match with a victory when Malik Heinselman broke a 2-2 tie with a reversal and riding time pointfor the 5-3 win over Brandon Meredith at 125.

Roman Bravo-Young had three of his four takedowns in the third period to beat Jordan Decatur 10-4 at 133 to even the dual meet at 3-3.

Lee’s win gave the Nittany Lions a 6-3 advantage before Ohio State captured the next two bouts.

No.1 Sammy Sasso, out of Nazareth High School, locked up a takedown with two seconds left in overtime for the 3-1 win over Jarod Verkleeren at 149.

Brady Berge returned to the mat for Penn State after a long layoff due to injury, and it showed. The Nittany Lion sophomore had a 3-1 lead heading into the third before running out of gas against Quinn Kinner in a 4-3 loss.

“It’s his first time on the mat in a little while,” Sanderson said. “I thought his speed and his movement and everything looked good. He just needs to be focused and have everything right in his mind.”

Penn State won the takedown battle 19-12. The Nittany Lions close out the dual meet season back at Rec Hall against American University on Sunday, February 23.

“I don’t think we wrestled great tonight,” Sanderson said. “I don’t think that’s any secret. Our guys that are consistent were consistent. Our guys that haven’t been consistent, weren’t consistent. We need those guys that haven’t been consistent to just kind of step it up a little bit if we want to compete for a national title. We’re right there, when you go up and down the lineup, we’ve just got to keep moving forward and stay positive.”

#2 Penn State 20, #3 Ohio State 16

(at the Bryce Jordan Center)

125: Malik Heinselman, OSU dec. Brandon Meredith, PSU, 5-3.

133: No. 2 Roman Bravo-Young, PSU dec. Jordan Decatur, OSU, 10-4.

141: No. 2 Nick Lee, PSU dec. No. 1 Luke Pletcher, OSU, 8-4.

149: No. 1 Sammy Sasso, OSU dec. No. 17 Jarod Verkleeren, PSU, 3-1 SV.

157: Quinn Kinner, OSU dec. Brady Berge, PSU, 4-3.

165: No. 1 Vincenzo Joseph, PSU major dec. No. 16 Ethan Smith, OSU, 13-5.

174: No. 2 Mark Hall, PSU pinned No. 7 Kaleb Romaro, OSU, :46.

184: No. 6 Aaaron Brooks, PSU major dec. No. 12 Rocky Jordan, OSU, 15-4.

197: No. 1 Kollin Moore, OSU major dec. No. 17 Shakur Rasheed, PSU, 14-6.

285: No. 23 Gary Traub, OSU dec. No. 15 Seth Nevills, PSU, 5-4.

Records: Penn State (11-2, 8-1 Big Ten), Ohio State (10-4, 6-3 Big Ten)

Next match: American University at Rec Hall, Sunday, Feb. 23 at 2 p.m.

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