Penn State will send seven wrestlers to the quarterfinals of the 2023 NCAA Wrestling Championships and eight of the Nittany Lions’ nine entries remained alive after the first day of nationals.
Roman Bravo-Young, Beau Bartlett, Shayne Van Ness, Levi Haines, Carter Starocci, Aaron Brooks and Greg Kerkvliet combined to go 14-0 during Sessions I and II at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Thursday.
Penn State, the reigning national champion, carries a team-leading 26 points into the second day of competition, 4.5 points ahead of rival Iowa.
Session III begins today at noon, including the quarterfinals.
Iowa’s Max Murin went 2-0 during the first two sessions to advance to the quarterfinals at 149 pounds. Murin draws top-seeded Yianni Diakomihalis of Cornell in the quarters.
Top-seeded at 133 pounds, Bravo-Young advanced to the quarterfinals with a 5-2 decision against Chattanooga’s Brayden Palmer. Bravo-Young, the top seed, recorded two takedowns and accumulated 2:36 in riding time. The win was the 98th of the two-time national champion’s career. Bravo-Young will face Minnesota’s Aaron Nagao in the quarterfinals.
Bartlett earned a 3-2 decision against South Dakota State’s Clay Carlson behind two takedowns and an escape point. He advances to the 141-pound quarterfinals and draws Pitt’s Cole Matthews.
At 149 pounds, No. 12 Van Ness built a 6-0 first-period advantage to claim a 14-8 decision with 1:29 in riding time in an upset against No. 5 Iowa State’s Paniro Johnson. Van Ness will face Indiana’s Graham Rooks. Van Ness is 2-0 this season against Rooks.
Van Ness, a freshman, provided one of the day’s top highlights. After falling behind, 10-3, in the third period of his match against Maryland’s Ethen Miller, Van Ness overwhelmed Miller, turning him around before ultimately earning the pin.
Haines, recently named Big Ten Freshman of the Year, won an 8-2 decision with 1:40 in riding time against Jacob Wright of Wyoming at 157 pounds. Haines will match up against Virginia Tech’s Bryce Andonian later today in the quarterfinals.
No. 1 Starocci claimed his 48th straight win as he earned a 4-0 decision with 2:13 in riding time against Indiana’s Donnell Washington in the second round. Starocci — a two-time national champion — gets Minnesota’s Bailee O‘Reilly in the quarterfinal round. Starocci defeated O’Reilly at the Big Ten Wrestling Tournament en route to claiming his second Big Ten crown at 174 pounds.
Brooks — owner of three Big Ten titles and two national titles — pinned (4:59) Clarion’s Will Feldkamp to cruise into the quarterfinals, where he’ll draw Ohio State’s Kaleb Romero for the third meeting of the pair’s careers. Brooks is 3-0 in previous matches against Romero.
Nebraska’s Silas Allred earned his second win this month against Max Dean at 197 pounds. Dean is the reigning national champion at 197. Allred defeated Dean in the Big Ten Tournament championships, and the Cornhusker claimed a 7-2 decision against Dean during Thursday’s night Session 3. Dean will face Oregon State’s Gavin Hoffman in wrestlebacks.
Greg Kerkvliet capped Thursday’s action with a 14-2 major decision with 4:30 in riding time against AJ Nevills, a former Penn State commit. Kerkvliet will challenge Wisconsin’s Trent Hillger in the quarterfinals.
Nittany Lion wrestlers went 8-1 during the first session and posted a session-best three pins by Kerkvliet (34 seconds), Starocci (1:21) and Van Ness (6:26).
Penn State led the field with 16 points at the conclusion of Session 1.
Bartlett gave the Nittany Lions their first win at nationals with his 9-2 decision with 1:46 in riding time against Shannon Hanna of Campbell.
Alex Facundo went 0-2 at 165 pounds during Sessions 1 and 2 with losses against Pitt’s Holden Heller (12-2) and Cornell’s Juan Ramirez. Facundo concludes his redshirt freshman season with a 19-6 record.
Kerkvliet pinned Purdue’s Hayden Copass, and Starocci’s pin came against Clarion’s John Worthing. Van Ness provided perhaps the most thrilling bout for the Nittany Lions in Session 1. After falling behind 10-3 in the third period, the freshman pinned Maryland’s Ethen Miller (6:26).
Bravo-Young claimed a 12-3 major decision against Ethan Oakley of Appalachian State. Bravo-Young, a two-time national champion, accumulated 4:37 in riding time and tallied five takedowns.
Brooks tallied a reversal and five takedowns to win a 13-4 major decision against Chattanooga’s Mathew Waddell. Dean opened his national title defense with a 6-1 decision against Campbell’s Levi Hopkins. Haines recorded four takedowns in his inaugural match at the NCAA Championships. He won a 10-3 decision against Lock Haven’s Ashton Eyler.
Pitt’s Holden Heller sent Facundo into the consolation bracket as the Panther claimed a 5-3 decision against the Nittany Lion freshman.
Bucknell’s three entries at the NCAA tournament were eliminated after going 0-2 on the opening day in Tulsa
At 133, junior Kurtis Phipps lost his first two bouts to end the season 31-15. In the opener against No. 8 Aaron Nagao of Minnesota, Phillips fell 8-0. In the opening consolation bout, he fell Oklahoma’s Wyatt Henson, 7-2.
Phipps, whose brother Wes was also an NCAA qualifier for Bucknell, entered nationals with 31 wins, tied for the most in the country.
At 149, sophomore Dylan Chappell dropped a tough, 6-1 decision to fourth-seeded Caleb Henson in the opening round to fall into the consolation. There, Chappell was pinned by North Dakota State’s Kellyn March after building a 5-3 lead to end his year. Chappell finished the season 28-14.
Junior Dorian Crosby drew fifth-seeded Cohlton Schultz of Arizona State in the first round. Schultz, who spent part of the year ranked No. 1 at heavyweight, earned a 13-0 major decision to push Crosby into the consolations.
In the consolation bracket, Crosby dropped an 11-1 major decision to Lehigh’s Nathan Taylor, seeded 21st. Crosby ends the season at 20-15.