Penn State Wrestling: 5 Biggest Surprises of 2021 Season

Penn State Nittany Lions wrestler Roman Bravo Young (Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports)
Penn State Nittany Lions wrestler Roman Bravo Young (Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Penn State Wrestling
Greg Kerkvliet of the Penn State Nittany Lions (Photo by Scott Rovak/NCAA Photos via Getty Images) /

Biggest Surprise No. 3

Greg Kerkvliet made his Penn State debut

A little more than a month after committing to Ohio State back in September of 2018, Greg Kerkvliet made the shocking announcement he was transferring to Penn State.

The former No. 1 recruit was bringing his talents to Happy Valley and reloading Cael Sanderson’s lineup.

Kerkvliet went on to compete in several open tournaments his true freshman year (2020) and compiled a 9-0 record along the way. Meanwhile, the starting heavyweight position was being held down by Seth “Big Snacks” Nevills who had a solid 2020 campaign himself with a 13-4 record.

No biggie, 2021 is going to be Kerkvliet’s coming out party.

Only this didn’t turn out to be true. At least not in the early going as word from the Penn State wrestling room was mum on Kerkvliet’s status.

Then Cael Sanderson released this on February 10th.

It appeared the Penn State faithful would have to wait another year to see what Kerk Kong could do in the blue and white. And that’s “if” he ever suited up.

Penn State went on to wrestle in more two duals against Michigan and Ohio State following Coach Sanderson’s comments. Then, on a sleepy Monday evening dual against perennial punching bag Maryland, this happened.

OMG!! Someone pinch me!

Greg Kerkvliet finally made his much anticipated Nittany Lion debut and crushed the completely overwhelmed Turtle Power grappler in a breezy 1st period fall.

However the question still remained. Was this simply practice? Or was Kerkvliet going to be the guy for Penn State heading into the B1G’s?

These questions were quickly answered as Penn State Wrestling announced both Greg Kerkvliet and fellow freshman Beau Bartlett would be the main guys at 285 and 149 going into the B1G’s.

While things didn’t pan out exactly how I predicted them in my head. Greg did have an excellent freshman year.

As Kerkvliet went on to finish 4th at the B1G Championships and 7th in the NCAA Championships.

Surprising for a guy who wasn’t even supposed to wrestle this season.