No. 1 Penn State Wrestling picked up a 23-14 victory over No. 2 Iowa Friday night in front of a record setting crowd of 15,998 at the Bryce Jordan Center.
The crowd tied the NCAA attendance record for an indoor college wrestling match, previously set by the Nittany Lions and Iowa in 2018. It was a close dual with Iowa having a 14-9 lead through 6 matches.
Cael Sanderson‘s team turned it on from there winning the last 4 matchups including a tech fall by Aaron Brooks at 184.
This was Sanderson’s 100th Big Ten Dual victory at Penn State.
Friday’s victory moved the Nittany Lions to 11-0 on the season, and have a chance to become the 7th undefeated team since Sanderson arrived in 2010.
This match proved that Penn State Wrestling still has 5 legitimate contenders for NCAA titles at their respective weight classes in Bravo-Young, Starocci, Brooks, Dean, and Kerkvliet.
With the continuing rise of star freshman Levi Haines, Penn State fans will have a lot to be excited about for March.
Here are the MVPs for Penn State Wrestling from Friday night’s victory
Bravo-Young got the Bryce Jordan Center on their feet and energized with his late 3rd period pin over former Nittany Lion Brody Teske.
It was expected that RBY would get the victory, but most Penn State fans were most hopeful for a possible major to add some bonus points to the team score. He wrestled like many would expect a No. 1 wrestler should against No. 17 and controlled the match from start to finish.
Down 7-2 late in the third, Teske tried to take a shot that ended up with him on his back and the Bryce Jordan Center erupting. Many Iowa fans were annoyed that Teske would even try and take a shot that late in the match as RBY has a history of getting late pins.
The result was 6 points for Penn State instead of 3 and gave momentum heading into consecutive toss up matchups.
Iowa would go on to win 3 of the next 4 weight classes so the extra three points kept things more comfortable for Penn State fans as they approached the strong back end of their lineup.
Despite the excitement of RBY, Greg Kerkvliet was most impressive, especially his ability to control the match.
Kerkvliet lost both in Iowa City last year and in the semifinals Big Ten championships to Cassioppi in what was a string of 3 consecutive losses to the Hawkeye.
Officially, the Penn State Wrestling heavyweight had an 0-3 record coming into this matchup though he did win an exhibition 8-5 in November of 2022.
This one felt more special, it was clear that he had gotten over the mental hurdle of trying to beat Cassioppi and it carried into this match.
Kerkvliet jumped out to an early lead with a 1st period takedown and was up 2-1 heading into the 2nd. Cassioppi chose bottom for the 2nd period and he never was allowed a chance to breath as Kerkvliet rode him out for the entirety of the period. Cassioppi gave Kervliet the escape in the 3rd period and with riding time secured the eventual 4-1 victory.
It was about as dominating as a 4-1 result can be and showed that when Kerkvliet is on the top of his game he can certainly contend for a National Championship. It is likely that these two heavyweights meet again in the Big Ten and or NCAA Tournaments.
When they do expect a more confident Greg Kerkvliet next time around.
What’s Next for Penn State Wrestling?
Penn State Wrestling will travel to Columbus to take on No. 6 Ohio State next Friday February 3rd. The Dual will take place at 7:00pm ET and will be broadcasted on the Big Ten Network (BTN).