Penn State Wrestling: Top-5 Moments at The Bryce Jordan

NittanyCentral is home for the latest Penn State Football, Penn State Wrestling, Penn State Basketball news, updates, and analysis of the Penn State Nittany Lions

NittanyCentral is home for the latest Penn State Football, Penn State Wrestling, Penn State Basketball news, updates, and analysis of the Penn State Nittany Lions

NittanyCentral is home for the latest Penn State Football, Penn State Wrestling, Penn State Basketball news, updates, and analysis of the Penn State Nittany Lions

The latest news, insight, and analysis of Penn State Football, Penn State Wrestling, and Penn State Basketball, including schedules, game results, analysis of breaking news, rumors, speculation, and recruiting coverage of future Penn State Nittany Lions

NittanyCentral is home to the latest Penn State Nittany Lions news, updates, insight, and analysis, including in-depth coverage of Penn State Football, Penn State Wrestling, Penn State Basketball, and much more

Penn State Wrestling: Top-5 Nittany Lion Wrestling Moments at Bryce Jordan Center

Penn State Wrestling has had some incredible moments in Rec Hall in its long and storied history, but fans inside the Bryce Jordan Center have also experienced their fair share of exciting memories.

Penn State Wrestling, Bryce Jordan Center
A general view prior to the Championship Finals during the U.S. Olympic Wrestling Team Trials at Bryce Jordan Center at Penn State. (Mandatory Credit: Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports)

The Nittany Lions are prepping for their clash with the No. 14 ranked Scarlet Knights this Monday evening at 7:00pm EST. So, there’s no better time like the present to go into our way-back-machine and highlight five of the biggest wrestling moments for Penn State‘s annual trek to the other side of the campus.

And yes, I do realize this tradition is only 11 years old, so it’s not like we’ll have to go too far back.

So without further ado, let’s take a stroll down memory lane!

Top-5 Penn State Wrestling Wrestling Moments at the BJC

No. 5: The afternoon that started the tradition

No. 23 Pittsburgh 9 No. 2 Penn State 28

You can’t have a “Top-5 Nittany Lion Wrestling Moments at the BJC” and not include the day it all started.

At this point in the Cael Sanderson era, Penn State Wrestling had already racked up three straight NCAA team titles between 2011-2013. And the athletic department said to themselves, “Hey, Penn State fans can’t get enough of wrestling and their amazing program and they sell out Rec Hall for every dual. Why don’t we do something that no other winter program ever does and pack the Bryce Jordan Center?”

Which is exactly what they did when they scheduled interstate rival Pittsburgh for a home dual in the Bryce Jordan Center on December 8, 2013.

Ticket sales were going like hot cakes and before people knew it, there were very few tickets available anywhere. But that weekend a snow storm was forecasted to wallop Centre County and their were growing concerns about the dual meet and the attendance.

These are Penn State wrestling fans we’re talking about, right?

Haha, a little snow doesn’t bother them.

Because, in the end, a staggering 15,996 Nittany Lion fans witnessed Penn State throttle Pitt 28-9.

The attendance number set an NCAA all-time dual meet record and a new record for a Penn State Athletic event held at the Bryce Jordan Center.

No. 4: Round two Penn State Wrestling vs. Iowa in the BJC

No. 7 Iowa 13 No. 1 Penn State 28

It’s not how you start something, it’s how you finish it. And the way the Nittany Lions finished this dual must have been amazing to watch in person.

In their first go around in the BJC against Iowa on February 8, 2015, the Hawkeyes won two of the final three matches to squeak past Penn State 18-12.

And in the BJC rematch in 2018, things weren’t going that great for the Nittany Lions in the opening half of the dual meet. Spencer Lee pinned Carson Kuhn and then Corey Keener, Nick Lee, and Zain Retherford ripped off three straight decision wins. Retherford’s 6-2 decision over No. 2 Brandon Sorensen could have made this list all by itself, but it was the team effort in the end that decided this dual.

In the next two matches, No. 2 Michael Kemerer win a 14-4 major decision over Bo Pipher and No. 7 Alex Marinelli completely stunned the crowd when he took down No. 1 Vincenzo Joseph 9-6. At this point in the dual meet Iowa was out to a 13-9 lead over the Nittany Lions and they still have two highly ranked wrestlers to go.

No. 2 Mark Hall and No. 1 Bo Nickal go the crowd on their feet with back-to-back pins in less than a minute. Then in the match at 197, an unranked at the time Shakur Rasheed breezed to an 11-2 decision over a shell-shocked No. 7 Cash Wilcke. Tom Brands was beside himself. Or wait, maybe that was Terry.

Then in the final bout of the dual, No. 6 Nick Nevills put the proverbial cherry on top when he bested No. 3 Sam Stoll in a razor close 3-2 decision.

The Nittany Lions rattled off four straight wins and went from being down 9-13, to winning the dual 28-13 in a runaway barn burner.


No. 3: The coming out party of an all-time Nittany Lion great

No. 3 Ohio State 16 No. 2 Penn State 20

The wrestling rivalry between Penn State and Ohio State peaked during the 2017-2018 season when the Nittany Lions prevailed in the “Dual of the Century” and then again in perhaps the most exciting NCAA Championship of all time (PSU 141.5 – OSU 133.5).

But make no mistake about it, there was still bad blood between the Nittany Lions and the Buckeyes in the 2019-2020 season. And later in the Big Ten portion of the season, Penn State was hosting Ohio State in the Bryce Jordan Center.

Admittedly, this was far from the Buckeye’s strong squads from 2015 to 2019, but they were still solid from top to bottom.

The dual meet was back and forth from the onset. Malik Heinselman won a 5-3 decision over Brandon Meredith and No. 2 Roman Bravo-Young returned the favor with a 10-4 decision of his own.

Then at 141, No. 2 Nick Lee used his never-ending energy to wear out and take down No. 1 Luke Pletcher 8-4. The sellout crowd of 15,995 was on their feet and you could feel the energy in that place.

No. 1 Sammy Sasso took care of No. 17 Jarod Verkleeren 3-1 in sudden victory, Quinn Kinner pulled off a mini upset against an unranked Brady Berge 4-3, No. 1 Vincenzo Joseph then pulled off a 13-5 major decision over No. 16 Ethan Smith, and No. 2 Mark Hall brought the walls down when he pinned No. 7 Kaleb Romero 46 seconds into the first period.

But the next match was a huge one if the Nittany Lions wanted to leave the BJC with the win.

Everyone by now knows who Aaron Brooks is, but back in 2020 he was seen as merely a very good wrestler. And at this point in his career he did have three matches at Rec Hall under his belt. But, wrestling under the bright lights in front of the massive crowd at the BJC is another animal all together. And Brooks would be going up against a ranked and talented grappler, No. 12 Rocky Jordan.

To say Aaron Brooks handled the pressure quite well is a gigantic understatement. Because of course he did! Brooks is a stud now and he was a stud back then. And he plowed Jordan to the tune of a 15-4 major decision to give Penn State four crucial points in the dual.

However this was the last match the Nittany Lions would win on the night. But because of Brooks’ dominance the Nittany Lions held off the Buckeyes and preserved the victory 20-16.

No. 2: True freshman with ice in his veins

Penn State Wrestling
Penn State Wrestling standout Levi Haines (Photo by Scott Pilutik for NittanyCentral)

No. 2 Iowa 14 No. 1 Penn State 23

After the first four matches of the dual the Nittany Lions were trailing the Hawkeyes 11-6. No. 15 Cobe Siebrecht was locked and loaded for Iowa at 157, however, Penn State fans weren’t exactly sure who Cael Sanderson would throw out onto the mat.

Terrell Barraclough had been the guy at 157 for the beginning of the year, however he got nicked up prior to the 2022 National Collegiate Duals and Levi Haines wrestled in each of the next five duals. And since the duals against Central Michigan and North Carolina were on the same day, these five appearances only counted as four for his eligibility.

One more and the Penn State coaching staff would burn Levi’s redshirt. Which is exactly why it was a toss up as to who would go in the BJC dual against Iowa.

But out from the tunnel came Levi Haines amid the loud cheers from the 15,998 Nittany Lion fans in attendance.

And Levi Haines did exactly what he was sent out to do. He won.

In a very exciting back-and-forth match, Haines prevailed against Seibrecht with an electrifying takedown midway through the final period. Following an escape by Siebrecht, Levi defended shot after shot from this competitive counterpart. And when the clock hit triple zeros it was the true freshman Levi Haines who had his hand raised at the center of the mat.

Haines win helped catapult the Nittany Lions to overcome the early deficit and stomp the Hawkeyes by nine.

No. 1: The clash of the titans

No. 5 Michigan 11 No. 1 Penn State 25

At this point in the article you have already seen his name appear a handful of times. And now’s the time he gets his time in the spotlight as his match against a two-time All-American tops my list of the top five Penn State moments in the Bryce Jordan Center.

Going into the 2018-2019 wrestling season, Mark Hall and Myles Amine had already locked horns twice. Once was in a regular season dual against Michigan and the second time was in the 2018 Big Ten Championships.

Hall was the victor on both occasions, however, they were far from easy wins (6-5 decision and 4-3 decision).

And now the two giants would clash again. However this time it would be in front 15,703 fans in the Bryce Jordan Center.

Based on the theme so far in this article, it wouldn’t be surprising to know Penn State was trailing Michigan 11-9 leading into the marquee matchup at 174 pounds.

The match started out with both guys trying to force the issue and the pace. Hall defended numerous shots from Amine early in the period and then the roles were reversed. Neither guy was able to get any penetration and the match was tied 0-0 going into the second period.

Hall quickly escaped from the bottom position in the second period and got right to his offense. Nearing the end of the second period, Mark hit home with a low single and Amine did everything he could to fight it off.

There was a wild scramble and it looked like Hall gained control just as the period ended. However, the officials did not award the takedown.

Then in third period it was Amine who quickly escaped from bottom to knot the score 1-1. But Hall was still on the prowl and he nearly secured both of Amine’s legs midway through the period to get the bout’s first takedown. And against Amine fought him off.

But it was simply a matter of time.

And with less than 30 seconds in the final period, Hall was able to take a shot and then redirect to get behind Amine for the match clinching takedown. Myles did escape with less than 15 seconds left, but Mark Hall would roll on with the incredible 3-2 decision against a future five-time All-American.

MORE: The Definitive Mount Rushmore of Nittany Lion Wrestling

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