Penn State Wrestling: Nittany Lions best Lehigh 24-12 on the road

Mar 19, 2021; St. Louis, Missouri, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions wrestler Carter Starocci celebrates after defeating Kent State Golden Flashes wrestler Andrew NcNally in the 174 weight class during the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships at Enterprise Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 19, 2021; St. Louis, Missouri, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions wrestler Carter Starocci celebrates after defeating Kent State Golden Flashes wrestler Andrew NcNally in the 174 weight class during the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships at Enterprise Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports /

The No. 1 Nittany Lions Wrestling Team takes care of business on the road, 24-12, against No. 22 Lehigh

Coming off a drubbing of the Rider Broncs on Friday, Penn State Wrestling was on the road again against inter-state rival Lehigh. And the Nittany Lions handled their work against the Mountain Hawks as they downed them 24-12 on Sunday afternoon.

The road tilt also proved to be the first dual meet against a ranked opponent for the Nittany Lions early in the 2022-2023 season.

And while this was a fact, it was also a fact the Mountain Hawks gave Penn State Wrestling a run for their money in last year’s dual meet. In the friendly confines of Rec Hall, the Nittany Lions escaped with a narrow 23-16 win thanks to some gritty wrestling by Nick Lee, Creighton Edsell, and Donovon Ball.

But this is a new year and this year’s edition of Penn State Wrestling is a much different team. And by “different” I mean they are elite, they are experienced, and they are scary good from top to bottom.


I know, I know. It’s not like I’m making some incredible epiphany.

Anyway, onto the action!

The dual started out at 125 where Gary Steen was looking to put a winning streak together.

Unfortunately, No. 26 ranked Carter Bailey didn’t get the memo because outside of a last second takedown in the first period and an escape in the second period, he kept Steen at arm’s length for the majority of the match and hung on for a 3-1 decision. Gary fought hard but it just wasn’t enough, and Lehigh took the early lead 3-0 in the dual.

Karl Shindledecker then got the start at 133 against Lehigh’s No. 19 ranked Connor McGonagle. Shindledecker is a true freshman, he’s wrestling an experienced and ranked opponent, has only wrestled in six collegiate matches, and they have all been at 125 pounds. No problem, right?

Well, kinda.

Even though McGonagle got the best of Shindledecker with a 6-1 decision victory, I was impressed with how hard Karl wrestled. McGonagle had to work for every single point and Shindledecker was close to getting a takedown several times during the match.

And after two matches Lehigh jumped out to a 6-0 lead over the Nittany Lions.

But fret not Penn State faithful, because Beau Bartlett and Shayne Van Ness were next up for the Nittany Lions. And even though both matchups were against ranked foes, both grapplers delivered in a big way with Bartlett winning an 8-4 decision and Van Ness pinning his opponent in the first period.

That’s more like it! With one match remaining before intermission the Nittany Lions took the lead 9-6.

Could Terrell Barraclough keep the momentum going in the third straight ranked matchup of the afternoon?

He tried, but No. 8 Josh Humphreys was just too much to handle as Barraclough dropped a tough 6-3 decision. Going into the break the Nittany Lions and Mountain Hawks were deadlocked at nine apiece.

Super talented freshman Alex Facundo hit the mat coming out of intermission and he was locked up in a tight match from the opening whistle. Following a scoreless first period, Facundo earned an escape and a takedown in the second period to lead 3-1 going into the final period.

And Alex put on a strong showing in the third period to win the 6-2 decision and give Penn State the lead once again, 12-9.

Carter Starocci was up next, and the Nittany Lions could use a big performance from the two-time reigning NCAA Champion.

And that’s exactly what Starocci did in putting together a masterful performance which included 10 takedowns in the 22-8 major decision. I mean, was there really any doubt?

Moving on.

In the fourth ranked matchup of the afternoon, Aaron Brooks squared off against Tate Samuelson, after getting the night off on Friday in the Rider dual.

Brooks showed no sign of rust as he was able to win the hard fought 8-3 decision against Samuelson. It certainly wasn’t a high flying and high scoring match, but Brooks was methodical throughout the bout and he took advantage of openings when they presented themselves. Which were few and far between with Tate stalling for a large portion of the match.

With two matches remaining in the dual Penn State Wrestling extended their lead to 19-9.

And in the match of the afternoon, at least on paper, Max Dean squared off against former Nittany Lion and 2020 All-American Michael Beard.

To add further fuel to the fire, Dean was coming off a difficult and somewhat controversial loss to Rider’s Ethan Laird on Friday evening. Would Max be able to bounce back and get back in the win column?

Well following an action packed first period, I’m not able to answer that question but I will say Max got back in the controversy column after getting slapped with back-to-back stall calls. Even Jeff Byers agreed they were some of the quickest stall calls he’d ever seen.

Going into the third period Max Dean clung to a 7-6 advantage with Beard starting in the bottom position. Michael snuck loose to earn the escape and tie the match at 7-7 and he quickly went on the offensive to grab another takedown and the 9-7 lead. Dean then got an escape of his own looking to get to his offense.

But Michael Beard wasn’t having any of it and he snagged a double and took Max to the mat once again. Dean worked himself free with only 30 seconds remaining in the period and down 11-9 needing to get a takedown to push the match to sudden victory.

Remember when the referee had the quick whistle with Max in the first period? Apparently that same referee must have swallowed it because Beard was literally running around the mat and away from Dean as the clock hit triple digits.

Am I making excuses for Max Dean’s two losses this weekend? No, he lost plain and simple. But if I could, I would put both matches under protest. Either way Dean needs to get back to work and regroup for the rest of the season.

In the final match of the afternoon, Greg Kerkvliet absolutely steamrolled his foe with an amazing 18-0 technical fall only 4:01 into the match. Now that’s a good way to end the dual meet!

Next up for Penn State is a home dual against Oregon State on Sunday, December 11th, at 2pm.

No. 1 Penn State 24 No. 22 Lehigh 12

125 No. 26 Carter Bailey (LEH) dec. over Gary Steen (PSU) 3-1, PSU 0 LEH 3
133 No. 19 Connor McGonagle (LEH) dec. over Karl Shindledecker (PSU) 6-1, PSU 0 LEH 6
141 No. 9 Beau Bartlett (PSU) dec. over No. 30 Malyke Hines (LEH) 8-4, PSU 3 LEH 6
149 No. 20 Shayne Van Ness (PSU) fall over No. 26 Manzona Bryant (LEH) 2:38, PSU 9 LEH 6
157 No. 8 Josh Humphreys (LEH) dec. over No. 30 Terrell Barraclough (PSU) 6-3, PSU 9 LEH 9
165 No. 17 Alex Facundo (PSU) dec. over Brian Meyer (LEH) 6-2, PSU 12 LEH 9
174 No. 1 Carter Starocci (PSU) major dec. over Jake Logan (LEH) 22-8, PSU 16 LEH 9
184 No. 1 Aaron Brooks (PSU) dec. over No. 22 Tate Samuelson (LEH) 8-3, PSU 19 LEH 9
197 No. 9 Michael Beard (LEH) dec. over No. 1 Max Dean (PSU) 11-9, PSU 19 LEH 12
285 No. 2 Greg Kerkvliet (PSU) tech. fall over No. 22 Nathan Taylor (LEH) 18-0, PSU 24 LEH 12