Penn State Wrestling was back in action this Sunday as they hit the road to West Point, New York, where they took part in the 2023 Black Knight Invite.
And in this case “took part” was just slang for “kick some butt and take some names” because in the end the Nittany Lions went a combined 46-20 and crowned five individual champions.
A total of 17 Penn State grapplers were in action on Sunday and following their dominant performance at the 2023 Journeymen Collegiate Classic, there were still some questions that could come into better focus once the dust settled on the tournament.
Namely the following:
-How would the trio of Robbie Howard, Gary Steen, and Braedan Davis fair in their bracket?
-How would the new guys (Tyler Kasak, Brian Borden, and Jack Kelly) look in their first taste of mat time this season?
-Would Aaron Nagao’s injury from earlier in the preseason limit him on the mat?
-How about the rest of the guys who had strong showings last week?
-Would Chris finish an entire 3 lb party bag of M&M’s by the time the tournament finish?
On a side note, the numbers next to each grappler is their individual seed for this tournament and any number in parenthesis is their actual ranking according to the latest Intermat rankings.
So without further ado …
Onto the action in the 2023 Black Knight Invite!
Question – How would the trio of Robbie Howard, Gary Steen, and Braedan Davis fair in their bracket?
No. 4 Robbie Howard (125) – 4th place
W – 6-4 dec. over Aedyn Concepcion (Gardner-Webb)
W – 5-2 dec. over No. 5 Gary Steen (Penn State)
L – 3-12 major dec. against No. 1 (30) Ethan Berginc (Army)
L – medical forfeit against No. 2 (31) Tristan Lujan (Michigan State)
No. 5 Gary Steen (125) – 5th place
W – 12-5 dec. over Carson Wagner (Binghamton)
L – 2-5 dec. against Robbie Howard (Penn State)
W – fall (4:23) over Max Elton (Buffalo)
W – 19-4 tech. fall over Nick Corday (Michigan State)
W – 14-4 major dec. over No. 3 Charlie Farmer (Army)
No. 6 Braedan Davis (125) – 1st place
W – 17-1 tech. fall over Ariel Waldman (LIU)
W – 11-1 major dec. over No. 3 Charlie Farmer (Army)
W – 4-2 dec. over No. 2 (31) Tristan Lujan (Michgan State)
W – 5-1 dec. over No. 1 (30) Ethan Berginc (Army)
Gary Steen had another decent showing this week as he took fifth place in the 125 pound bracket. After losing to Robbie Howard in the second round, Steen crushed the rest of the competition in his remaining three matches.
Howard started off great, but that all came crashing down after he lost a major decision in the semifinals and then had to medically forfeit in the third place match. For the sake of Nittany Lion nation, I sure hope this has nothing to do with his shoulder.
But yet again it was Braedan Davis who stole the show at lightweight. After winning his first two matches, Davis took out two ranked grapplers on his way to taking home another tournament title.
And whether or not the starting lineup will look like this against Lehigh on December 3rd, the pecking order at 125 pounds is clearly the following:
1. Braedan Davis
2. Robbie Howard
3. Gary Steen
Question – How would the new guys (Tyler Kasak, Brian Borden, and Jack Kelly) look in their first taste of mat time this season?
No. 6 Tyler Kasak (141) – 2nd place
W – 11-1 major dec. over Logan Brown (Army)
W – 3-2 dec. over No. 3 David Evans (Penn State)
W – 8-0 major dec. over No. 7 Todd Carter (Gardner-Webb)
L – 1-4 dec. against No. 1 (2) Beau Bartlett (Penn State)
No. 6 Brian Borden (174) – 6th place
W – 15-7 major dec. over Aydin Rix-McElhinney (N Colo)
L – 3-10 dec. against No. 3 Marcus Petite (Buffalo)
W – 4-2 dec. over No. 4 Aurelius Dunbar (Penn State)
W – 4-1 dec. over Dylan Schell (Buffalo)
L – 3-14 major dec. against Jonothan Conrad (Brown)
Jack Kelly (184)
L – 4-9 dec. against No. 6 Andrew Donahue (N Colo)
L – 5-21 tech. fall against No. 5 Luke Vanadia (Michigan State)
While Kelly had a bit of a rough tournament, Brian Borden piled up a couple of impressive wins, including besting teammate Aurelius Dunbar on his way to finishing in 6th place.
But in this group it was one guy who turned heads. And that was Tyler Kasak’s performance. Kasak not only took out last week’s surprise performer (David Evans), heck, he made it all of the way to the finals where he stood toe-to-toe across from teammate Beau Bartlett.
Considering Tyler only dropped a 4-1 decision to Bartlett in the finals was very impressive. And that’s due to the simple fact that Beau pinned all three of his prior opponents before facing Kasak.
Question – Would Aaron Nagao’s injury from earlier in the preseason limit him on the mat?
No. 1 (3) Aaron Nagao (133) – 1st place
W – 15-0 tech. fall over Takeo Davis (Gardner-Webb)
W – 13-1 major dec. over Andrew Hampton (Michigan State)
W – 17-2 tech. fall over No. 5 Devon Britton (Rutgers)
W – fall (0:52) over No. 3 (33) Braden Basile (Army)
Clearly this question needs to be thrown out of the window and then run over by a Belaz 75710 dump truck. Because Nagao was absolutely amazing today as he racked up bonus points in every single match and tied a nice bow around the entire tournament by pinning his foe in the finals.
Aaron Nagao appears to be locked and loaded for the 2023-2024 season.
Question – How about the rest of the guys who had strong showings last week?
Baylor Shunk (133)
L – 11-16 dec. against No. 7 Dyson Kunz (N Colo)
W – 15-0 tech. fall over Charlie Sly (Gardner-Webb)
W – 11-1 major dec. over Andrew Hampton (Michigan State)
L – 4-19 tech. fall against No. 6 Dominick Serrano (N Colo)
No. 1 (2) Beau Bartlett (141) – 1st place
W – fall (2:36) over Riley Halal (Brown)
W – fall (4:48) over No. 8 Joe Fongaro (Rutgers)
W – fall (3:57) over No. 4 Rich Treanor (Army)
W – 4-1 dec. over No. 6 Tyler Kasak (Penn State)
No. 3 David Evans (141) – 5th place
W – 11-4 dec. over Nathan Lucier (Binghamton)
L – 2-3 dec. against No. 6 Tyler Kasak (Penn State)
W – 11-1 major dec. over Armando Garcia (N Colo)
W – 12-6 dec. over No. 2 Jordan Hamdan (Michigan State)
W – 21-5 tech. fall over No. 8 Joe Fongaro (Rutgers)
No. 5 Imran Heard (149)
W – 4-2 dec. over William McMullen (LIU)
L – 5-7 dec. against No. 4 Matthew Williams (Army)
L – 3-7 dec. against Joey Giordano (Gardner-Webb)
No. 7 Connor Pierce (149)
W – fall (2:07) over Sam Harris (Gardner-Webb)
L – 3-5 dec. against No. 2 (23) Jacob Butler (Rutgers)
L – 5-7 dec. against Michael Cetta (Rutgers)
No. 5 Terrell Barraclough (165) – 2nd place
W – 12-2 major dec. over Luke Gayer (Rutgers)
W – 11-8 dec. over No. 4 Matt Lee (Penn State)
W – fall (7:20) over No. 1 (9) Caleb Fish (Michigan State)
L – 5-8 dec. against No. 7 (17) Mitchell Mesenbrink (Penn State)
No. 4 Matt Lee (165) – 6th place
W – fall (2:25) over Keegan Rothrock (Brown)
L – 8-11 dec. against No. 5 Terrell Barraclough (Penn State)
W – 9-1 major dec. over Dakota Morris (Army)
L – medical forfeit against Brevin Cassella (Binghamton)
No. 7 (17) Mitchell Mesenbrink (165) – 1st place
W – 17-2 tech. fall over Dakota Morris (Army)
W – 25-6 tech. fall over No. 2 (21) Brevin Cassella (Binghamton)
W – fall (2:15) over No. 3 (22) Anthony White (Rutgers)
W – 8-5 dec. over No. 5 Terrell Barraclough (Penn State)
No. 4 Aurelius Dunbar (174)
L – fall (7:22) against Corey Connolly (LIU)
W – 7-4 dec. over No. 5 William Ebert (Binghamton)
L – 2-4 dec. against No. 6 Brian Borden (Penn State)
No. 4 Josh Barr (184) – 1st place
W – 18-3 tech. fall over Kyle Swartz (Army)
W – 9-5 dec. over No. 5 Luke Vanadia (Michigan State)
W – 2-1 dec. over No. 1 (13) Jacob Nolan (Binghamton)
W – 4-1 dec. SV over No. 7 Chase Kranitz (Buffalo)
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This group of wrestlers finished pretty much exactly where most people would have thought.
It was great to see Baylor Shunk pick up his first two wins on the season and another positive was that every one of the guys who were eventually eliminated from their bracket also picked up at least one victory.
David Evans followed up a great performance last week with another solid one today on his way to a fifth place finish.
Matt Lee also made it to the fifth place match, but unfortunately he had to medically forfeit to finish in sixth. Hopefully he’s just a little banged up and it’s nothing serious.
In perhaps the match of the day featuring two Nittany Lions in it, Terrell Barraclough gave Mitch Mesenbrink everything he could handle. Mesenbrink jumped out to an early 6-2 win and it looked like he would coast to his second tournament title.
But Barraclough had other ideas and a late takedown in the third period narrowed the gap to only three points. Unfortunately it was too little too late and he wasn’t able to turn Mesenbrink for any additional points.
Terrell earned a hard fought second place finish and Mitchell was a bonus machine again picking up two technical falls and a pin while going 4-0 and snagging more tournament hardware.
Josh Barr backed up his high recruiting ranking by going undefeated for the second weekend in a row and took home first place honors following a very difficult match in the finals.
But if there was one guy who was head and shoulders above everyone else, it had to be the performance of Beau Bartlett.
Beau pinned each of his first three foes and battled teammate Tyler Kasak hard en route to the 4-1 decision and another perfect weekend.
Question – Would Chris finish an entire 3 lb party bag of M&M’s by the time the tournament finish?
Yes, this was never in any doubt whatsoever.
Next up for the Nittany Lions
This Tuesday (Nov 21) evening, Shayne Van Ness, Levi Haines, Carter Starocci, Bernie Truax, Aaron Brooks, and Greg Kerkvliet will be in action as they square off against top tier talent in the 2023 NWCA All-Star Classic in Rec Hall. The wrestling kicks off at 7:00 pm (ET).