#3 Penn State 28, #11 Ohio State 12
February 19, 2021 – Columbus, Ohio
125: #10 Malik Heinselman OSU dec. Robert Howard PSU, 5-2 0-3
133: #3 Roman Bravo-Young PSU tech fall Jordan Decatur OSU, 26-8 (TF; 5:37) 5-3
141: #2 Nick Lee PSU maj. dec. Dylan D'Emilio OSU, 15-3 9-3
149: #2 Sammy Sasso OSU dec. Beau Bartlett PSU, 5-3 9-6
157: #8 Brady Berge PSU dec. Elijah Cleary OSU, 3-1 12-6
165: #10 Ethan Smith OSU pinned #14 Joe Lee PSU, WBF (2:34) 12-12
174: #5 Carter Starocci PSU dec. #2 Kaleb Romero OSU, 2-1 (tb) 15-12
184: #2 Aaron Brooks PSU maj. dec. #20 Rocky Jordan OSU, 13-4 19-12
197: #16 Michael Beard PSU pinned Gavin Hoffman OSU, WBF (1:20) 25-12
285: #8 Seth Nevills PSU dec. #16 Tate Orndorff OSU, 3-2 28-12
Last night at about 6 pm, I got a text from a buddy. "Tonight's going to be a good one." I knew he was right, but I was nervous. I hadn't had the chance to watch Penn State wrestle yet this year, but I have been keeping a close eye on everything like I always do. Covid-19 has really made college sports weird as a whole, but especially wrestling. The schedules are all screwed up, and you never know when and if a team is actually going to wrestle.
I was nervous about last night's match because I kind of felt like Penn State was going to have a "down" year. Over the last three or four seasons, we have seen some of the best NCAA wrestlers in history take the mat for PSU, but unfortunately in college, kids come and go, sometimes too quickly. I have to admit, watching a team without Zain Retherford, Bo Nickal, Jason Nolf, Vincenzo Joesph, Anthony Cassar, and Mark Hall was kind of depressing. However, last night's match made me feel a whole lot better about this Penn State team in 2021.
I am going to touch on a few things that I saw last night, but if you want to read the full match-by-match breakdown you can click HERE.
Through the first half of last night's dual, I wasn't surprised by much. I will say that I really like the looks of Robert Howard (125). I think he may actually be the one to break this stupid 125 lbs. curse that Nick Suriano put on us, when he left us out to dry to go home to Rutgers.
I think Howard impressed me mostly because I really like how Malik Heinselman (OSU's 125) wrestles and I think he is wildly underrated. Heinselman is extremely quick, and has a really good defensive set. Howard had him in a strong whizzer a couple of times last night and Malik fought it off with just a seat belt, that impressed me.
133 and and 141 went as expected. RBY and Nick Lee handled their opponents like they should have, and both put on absolute scoring clinics. At one point I couldn't help but laugh at Ohio State's 133 pounder Jordan Decatur. That dude was way out of his element and he knew it. He had a classic "Oh Shit!" look in his eye. He could barely keep his eyes on the speedy Bravo-Young, let alone wrestle him.
I like what I saw out of Beau Bartlett (149) last night. He wrestled toe-to-toe with Sammy Sasso and didn't give an inch. He fell victim to Sasso's brutal riding style in the third period, and just couldn't escape. Other than that, I think that Sasso could absolutely be on "upset watch" when these two meet again.
I have to admit, I got a little nervous when Joe Lee (165) got caught and pinned by Ethan Smith to tie up the team score. I know that OSU has a really strong room of upper weights, and that we could run into trouble in that area. Not to mention, I thought Lee had a chance to upset Smith last night.
Carter Starocci (174) is an absolute maniac, and was a huge spark plug for Penn State last night after we lost 165. After shocking #2 Logan Massa last week against Michigan (our bitch-again), Starocci upset #2 Kaleb Romero last night, both wins coming in overtime. First of all, Starocci is built like a brick shit house. The dude is solid and you can't push him around. Being strong is great, but being as strong as he is, while having what seems like an unlimited gas tank, that's really impressive. There really isn't much else to say about this kid, he has grit, and that should really bode well for him down the road in the Championship season.
Aaron Brooks did his thing at 184, and Nick Nevills squeaked out another boring win at HWT. Those things are to be expected in duals at this time of year. Brooks is as consistent as they come, and very reliable. Nevills is a good dual meet heavy weight. He pulls off the close matches, and rarely gives up six points. I can live with that.
If anybody made it this far down the blog, I'm glad you did. My favorite part of the entire night, was Michael Beard pinning Gavin Hoffman in the first period at 197.
I'm a Pennsylvania, District-4 guy through and through. I grew up wrestling, and being a fan in the district 4, so when it comes to these wrestlers, I'm almost always on their side. However, Gavin Hoffman lost me a few years ago.
You see, Gavin was the pride of District 4 through his years wrestling for Montoursville High School. His older brother, who wrestled at Bucknell University, was fun to watch as well. Gavin was different though, he was dominant. He was a 3-time State Champion, and a Cadet Bronze medalist. He had all the makings of being a local kid that we would get to root for at Penn State for years to come. Until he committed to Ohio State. For me, that's where the love story ends.
Enter Michael Beard. The first time I was introduced to Beard was when Gavin Hoffman beat him at Flo Wrestling's "Who's #1" tournament. Hoffman beat him that day, but it was a really good, competitive match. To make a long story short, Beard committed to Penn State in early May of 2017. Hoffman committed to Ohio Sate 10 days later. This is where my allegiance switched.
Last night, Michael Beard showed how much you can improve just by being in Penn State's wrestling room. He came out like an absolute missile. Beard avenged the Who's #1 lost to Hoffman and pinned him in the first period. The Nittany Lion got in deep on a low, head-inside single, and took Hoffman straight to his back. You could just tell that he was on a revenge mission. I cannot wait to see these two wrestle later in the season.
Keep an eye out for more wrestling blogs once the conference tournaments get closer. I plan on doing a Big 10 prediction blog as well as an NCAA prediction blog. I will also most my take on the results of the respective tournaments.