Penn State Wrestling: Nittany Lions trounce Spartans 34-6 in Rec Hall

Mar 19, 2022; Detroit, MI, USA; Penn State wrestler Carter Starocci celebrates after defeating Virginia Tech wrestler Mekhi Lewis (not pictured) in the 174 pound weight class final match during the NCAA Wrestling Championships at Little Cesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 19, 2022; Detroit, MI, USA; Penn State wrestler Carter Starocci celebrates after defeating Virginia Tech wrestler Mekhi Lewis (not pictured) in the 174 pound weight class final match during the NCAA Wrestling Championships at Little Cesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /

The No. 1 Penn State Nittany Lions demolish Michigan State 34-6 in front of a packed Rec Hall crowd

The Penn State Wrestling Nittany Lions were back at it on Sunday afternoon as they were set to clash with the Michigan State Spartans in the friendly confines of Rec Hall.

Penn State had previously demolished Central Michigan 50-3 in the opening round of the National Collegiate Duals, then they manhandled Michigan this past Friday night 30-8 in a sold out Bryce Jordan Center. The remaining hurdle for the Nittany Lions to plant their flag on the entire state of Michigan comes down to Sparty.

Well, let’s just say Michigan State tried. But just barely.

Penn State won eight matches on the day and racked up a plethora of bonus points on their way to the 34-6 victory.

Now onto the action!

The dual started out at 125 where Gary Steen was back on the mat following his disappointing performance from Friday night.

And to say Steen finally, possibly turned the corner and got that damn monkey off his back would be a massive understatement after this match.

Following a scoreless first period, Steen started the second period on top position. Lujan was able to squirm free of Gary’s grip and he got on the board 1-0. The remainder of the second period ticked away with both grapplers squared up and on their feet.

Steen began the third on bottom and following a scramble near the center of the mat midway through the period, he was able to sneak out and tie the match at 1-1. The clocked counted to triple zeros and the match was headed to sudden victory.

Then in SV, both grapplers were measured and took several shots, however Steen countered a Lujan shot at the center of the mat and he corralled him into a cradle. After gaining full control the official signaled “TWO” and the match was over.

The win marked Steen’s first Big Ten dual meet victory and his first win against a ranked opponent.

Let’s hope this gives him the confidence going forward!

The Nittany Lions kept the train chugging along in the next three matches as Roman Bravo-Young scored a fall over No. 16 Rayvon Foley, Beau Bartlett breezed to a 7-1 decision, and Shayne Van Ness added to the fall-fest with a pin 5:44 into his match.

After the first four matches of the afternoon, Penn State chugged out to an 18-0 lead.

Quick side note before I jump into the 157 match. As Penn State gymnastics and wrestling super fan Jessi Lillo correct pointed out, I made a small, minor error the other night in my recap when I completely ignored every single rule the NCAA laid out for redshirts in wrestling. I declared that Levi Haines had burned his after taking to the mat Friday, but make no mistake about it, he still has his shirt.

Moving on.

Terrell Barraclough got the nod at 157 and this was his first official action on the mat since he defeated Isaish Crosby in the Oregon State dual back in early December.

Barraclough showed little rust in his game as he got on the board first with a takedown and he led 2-1 with after the 1st period.

Terrell started the second period on bottom and Saldate proved tough as he rode Barraclough out for the entire two minutes.

Barraclough still held a 2-1 lead, but Chase had a 1:46 riding time advantage going into the final period.

Terrell was on top to begin the period and Saldate was able to free himself to knot the score at 2-2. Both guys circled the mat looking to land the winning takedown, but the seconds were ticking away. Just when it appeared the match would be headed to sudden victory, Saldate landed a shot and got Barraclough in an awful spot.

Not only did Chase hit the winning takedown but he was able to turn Terrell’s shoulders for two additional near fall points. Unfortunately, Barraclough dropped the decision 6-2.

Coming out of the break, Alex Facundo took to the mat less than 48 hours from his biggest win (so far) as a Nittany Lion. Facundo knocked off the No. 5 ranked Cameron Amine Friday night, in a crazy 6-5 decision win in the tiebreakers. And another ranked opponent awaited Alex on Sunday.

While this match probably didn’t have the same action as the one from Friday, nonetheless it was just as thrilling.

Facundo was up 1-0 going into the third period following a scoreless opening period and an escape from Alex in the second.

Fish wriggled free and he tied the score at 1-1 with both wrestlers looking to end it in regulation. But neither guy was able to land a shot, so the match went into sudden victory.

Another side note. I realize these are just regular season dual meets, but wow, between the overtime matches on Friday and then today? My blood pressure is probably not, shall we say, on the low side. I think I’ll eat some M&M’s and Cheetos to see if that helps.

Back to the match.

With roughly a minute remaining in sudden victory the wrestlers were squared up at the center of the mat. Fish had a single under hook on Facundo and in the blink of an eye, Alex ducked straight down to the mat, dove under and cleared Caleb’s leg, and then spun around to cinch the takedown and win the match.

Holy. Cow.

Following his second straight win in overtime, Facundo gave Penn State a 21-3 lead.

Carter Starocci was next up at 174 and from the opening whistle, he meant business.

Starocci hit home on five takedowns in the first two periods and led the match 11-2 with over three minutes of riding time going into the final frame.

Then after several more takedowns, Carter was able to turn his opponent and score two additional near fall points and breeze to the 19-4 technical fall.

Donovon Ball got the call at 184 and he had his hands full against No. 15 Layne Malczewski.

Ball fought hard and there were a couple of opportunities, however he was unable to convert and ended up losing a difficult 6-0 decision to Malczewski.

With two matches remaining on the day, Penn State was up 26-6.

Max Dean and Cam Caffey were next at 197 and I’m going to guess Max had this match circled on his calendar.

Caffey was the first grappler to knock off Dean last year in Penn State’s dual meet against the Spartans. And if you want to watch a large and athletic human being stall for virtually an entire seven minutes in college wrestling, then watch Cam Caffey in this match from last year.

Well Caffey once again tried to stall and frustrate Dean, but this time Max was having none of it.

Dean cruised to a 4-0 decision over Cam and built up 1:46 in riding time along the way.

In the final match of the dual, Greg Kerkvliet was back in action after his tough loss against Mason Parris on Friday.

Kerk Kong was all over his Spartan opponent and he led 10-3 after only the first period. He kept his foot on the pedal and ultimately won a 19-4 technical fall over his overmatched counterpart.

Now that’s one way to come back after a loss.

Next up for Penn State is their second home dual meet in the Bryce Jordan Center as the Iowa Hawkeyes come to town. The dual is set to start at 8:30pm and will be broadcast nationally on the Big Ten Network.

Michigan State 6 No. 1 Penn State 34

125  Gary Steen (PSU) dec. over No. 24 Tristan Lujan (MSU) 3-1 SV, MSU 0 PSU 3
133 No. 1 Roman Bravo-Young (PSU) fall over No. 16 Rayvon Foley (MSU) 6:26, MSU 0 PSU 9
141 No. 4 Beau Bartlett (PSU) dec. over Jordan Hamdan (MSU) 7-1, MSU 0 PSU 12
149 No. 14 Shayne Van Ness (PSU) fall over Jorden Stauffenberg (MSU) 5:44, MSU 0 PSU 18
157 No. 15 Chase Saldate (MSU) dec. over Terrell Barraclough (PSU) 6-2, MSU 3 PSU 18
165 No. 16 Alex Facundo (PSU) dec. over No. 25 Caleb Fish (MSU) 3-1 SV, MSU 3 PSU 21
174 No. 1 Carter Starocci (PSU) tech. fall over Ceasar Garza (MSU) 26-3, MSU 3 PSU 26
184 No. 15 Layne Malczewski (MSU) dec. over Donovon Ball (PSU) 6-0, MSU 6 PSU 26
197 No. 4 Max Dean (PSU) dec. over No. 14 Cam Caffey (MSU) 4-0, MSU 6 PSU 29
285 No. 1 Greg Kerkvliet (PSU) tech. fall over Ryan Vasbinder (MSU) 19-4, MSU 6 PSU 34