PSU Wrestling: Keystone Classic Takeaways
When most students were home for Thanksgiving break, Penn State’s student-athletes continued to compete. This past week, the Penn State wrestling team travelled to Philadelphia to partake in the 23rd Keystone Classic at the University of Pennsylvania. Here are four takeaways from the weekend:
Takeaway 1: “We win titles, that’s what we do!”
To quote Bo Nickal, the Penn State team captured the team title and crowned eight individual champions. Penn State finished with 192.0 points with Drexel coming in second place with 109.5 team points. The only two weight classes that eluded Penn State’s grasp were 125 pounds and 149 pounds. This year’s title is the third straight for Penn State at this event.
Takeaway 2: Who gets the call at 149 pounds?
Redshirt freshmen teammates Jarrod Verkleern and Brady Berge met in the semifinals of the tournament with both cruising through the bracket. Berge was making his collegiate debut while Verkleern was coming off his collegiate debut winning by pin against Kent State.
Berge bested Verkleern with a 3-2 decision, making coach Cael Sanderson’s decision moving forward a bit more interesting. Sanderson needs to fill the shoes of three-time national champion and Hodge Trophy winner (given to the most outstanding collegiate wrestler) Zain Retherford as he graduated this past year, capping one of the best careers in Penn State history.
Sanderson has been one to give opportunities only when earned. Therefore Berge seems to have earned that spot for the foreseeable future.
Takeaway 3: Who gets the call at 285 pounds?
Very similarly to 149 pounds, senior teammates Nick Nevills and Anthony Cassar squared off in the semifinals of the heavyweight bracket. Cassar had a very successful season opener against Kent State as well, winning by technical fall. Meanwhile, Nevills was making his season debut.
Cassar impressed by beating Nevills in a more definitive match scoring three takedowns and winning 7-2 against his teammate. As previously mentioned, coach Sanderson should select Cassar as the “hot hand” in this situation as the season is still in the infant stages. Nevills has had his share of injuries and miscues during his time with the Nittany Lions, and his time as a starter may be limited.
Takeaway 4: Roman Bravo-Young is the real deal
Freshman Roman Bravo-Young is living up to the hype surrounding himself. After going 182-0 in his four years of competing at Sunnyside High School, the young man has stepped directly into this lethal lineup and kept pace.
Bravo-Young earned a bye in the first round, took a 6-2 lead in this second matchup when Harvard’s Lukus Stricker took an injury fault loss, which pushed Bravo-Young to the finals. Chandler Olson of Drexel was tasked to be the man to bring Bravo-Young down and he was unsuccessful, losing 24-9 by technical fall.
This title at 133 pounds means a great deal to Penn State as this gives this team something that has been missing in years past: a deadly starter at the top of the lineup. The only bad news here is that the 133-pound division this year is extremely talented, featuring South Dakota State’s Seth Gross, former Penn State wrestler Nick Suriano, who is now at Rutgers, and fellow Big Ten wrestler Stevan Micic among others. With this key addition, Penn State becomes even harder to beat in team competitions as its team grows deeper and deeper.
Penn State’s next match is at Bucknell University on November 30th at 7 P.M. This match will be similar to Kent State in the manner of how dominant the Nittany Lions will perform. With football season drawing to a close, the wrestling team is a looking for fans to support them as it tries to win its eighth national title in nine years.
Ryan Simpson is a senior majoring in statistics and minoring in sociology. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.