No.1 Penn State wrestling (9-0, 2-0) cruised to a 30-8 victory against No.3 Michigan (7-1, 2-1) Friday night in front of a sold-out crowd at the Bryce Jordan Center. Despite falling in the opening and concluding matches, the Nittany Lions dominated this much-anticipated dual.
The win gives Penn State even more momentum to start a critical week of conference dual meets. It also puts Cael Sanderson two victories away from 100 Big Ten conference wins for his career.
The Nittany Lions found themselves in an early 5-0 deficit to Michigan when Gary Steen lost by a technical fall to Jack Medley in the opening 125 match. However, that would be the only time Penn State was threatened on the evening.
Roman Bravo-Young (133) fell behind 2-0 to Dylan Ragusin after suffering only his second takedown of the season. But Bravo-Young responded with a quick escape and takedown in the second period to reclaim the lead. Bravo-Young sealed the match with over three minutes of riding time, securing his 44th consecutive victory by a 4-2 margin.
Penn State wrestling would then score 30 unanswered points, spurred on by overtime upsets from the program’s promising freshmen. After forcing sudden victory, Levi Haines (157) used a single-leg takedown to defeat No. 10 Will Lewan 3-1.
Following a controversial late takedown call from Michigan’s Cameron Amine (No.5 at 165), Alex Facundo was able to perform a quick escape with less than 20 seconds remaining to force sudden victory. Following a stalemate, Facundo used 14 seconds of riding time to defeat Amine 6-5 in tiebreakers to get the first Big Ten dual victory of his career.
The Nittany Lions stepped on the accelerator in the later matches.
Carter Starocci (174) defeated Max Maylor by a pin, the seventh of his career. Aaron Brooks (184) was not tested in his match against No. 9 Matt Finesilver. Brooks forced several early takedowns en route to a commanding 14-4 victory.
Max Dean also made easy work of Brendin Yatooma at 197, securing the 10-1 victory. The match was the 59th bonus point win of Dean’s career.
The only real blemish on the night for Penn State came in the heavyweight match. After a third takedown, the Wolverines’ Mason Parris (No. 2) was able to ride out a victory against top-ranked Greg Kerkvliet.
The loss is Kerkvliet’s first on the season, moving him to 7-1. Odds are, however, that Parris has not gotten the final word, as the two will most likely meet again at the Big Ten Championships.
Defining week ahead
The win nicely sets up the Nittany Lions for a critical conference slate over the next week.
On Sunday afternoon, Penn State wrestling will return to a sold-out Rec Hall to host Michigan State. Although the Spartans have started Big Ten play 0-2, they are still ranked 20th in the latest NWCA Coaches Dual Poll.
However, the most significant matchup of the week is next Friday. In their final Bryce Jordan Center dual of the season, the Lions will take on the second-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes. The only remaining undefeated teams in the conference, Friday’s dual will go a long way towards deciding the regular season Big Ten race.
Penn State hockey ranked in preseason poll
The Penn State hockey team has learned its presesaon ranking.
Penn State hockey is coming off one of their best seasons in program history. The Nittany Lions finished the 2022/23 season ranked #8 in the country after an overtime loss to Michigan in the quarterfinals. This year Guy Gadowsky’s squad will look to make a return to the NCAA tournament and are receiving some national recognition. Where does Penn State rank in the preseason USCHO poll?
The United States College Hockey Online (USCHO) has released its preseason top 20 rankings for the 2023/24 season. Penn State will enter this year ranked #16 and look to make their second consecutive and 4th overall NCAA tournament appearance. The Nittany Lions will look to replace a bunch of key contributors from last year’s Top 10 team and will rely on a few seniors to help transition the program.
Potential Record-Breaking Year
The Nittany Lions will be led by goaltender Liam Souliere who is on track to break multiple Penn State hockey records. The senior currently sits 1st all-time at Penn State with a 2.72 goals against average and 2nd all-time with a .908 save percentage. Souliere ranks 3rd in all-time wins (27), games played (56), games started (55), minutes (3192:43), saves (1430), and shutouts (3). He is expected to break at least a few of those records and is thought by many as the best goalie that Penn State has had in its 11-year history.
Talented Big Ten
The Big Ten conference has been gaining strength the past few seasons in the world of college hockey and that has continued into the 2023/24 season. A stunning 6 of the 7 members are ranked in the preseason Top 20 in the USCHO. Headlining are frozen four contenders Minnesota (3), Michigan (5), and Michigan State (9). Ohio State (13), Penn State (16), and Notre Dame (20) are all capable of making an NCAA Tournament appearance. It is clear that the transfer portal and NIL have greatly helped strengthen the conference, which is still looking for its first national championship since forming in 2013/14.
ICYMI: Penn State lands No. 1 recruit in the nation for 2025
Penn State just landed the No. 1 recruit in the nation for the 2025 cycle. What does this mean for the Nittany Lions’ dominance moving forward?
The Penn State Wrestling dynasty continues to roll along, as Cael Sanderson picked up another major commitment last night. The Nittany Lions landed PJ Duke, the No. 1 recruit in the nation for the 2025 cycle. What does the commitment mean for the program, and what are the expectations moving forward for Penn State wrestling?
No. 1 recruit in the nation PJ Duke picks Penn State wrestling
PJ Duke, the No. 1 recruit in the nation for the 2025 class, has decided to take his talents to State College. Duke currently wrestles at 150 pounds and projects to wrestle at 157 when he arrives in Happy Valley.
Penn State currently has Levi Haines at 157, who was an NCAA finalist last season as a true freshman. There also is 2024 No. 6 overall recruit Joe Sealey, who could wrestle at 157. There will be plenty of teammates to train with as Penn State wrestling continues to solidify the middle of its lineup. PJ Duke, who currently wrestles at powerhouse Minisink Valley High School (NY), will join former teammate Zack Ryder, a member of the 2024 Penn State recruiting class.
Duke’s commitment marks back-to-back classes where Penn State wrestling has landed the No. 1 recruit in the nation. This commitment builds off an already stacked 2024 class, that is already the best in the country.
The Nittany Lions currently have the No. 1 (Luke Lilledahl), No. 5 (Zack Ryder), No. 6 (Joseph Sealey), No. 10 (Connor Mirasola), No. 13 (Mason Gibson), and No. 21(Cole Mirasola) nationally ranked wrestlers across all weight classes committed for 2024. The Penn State wrestling program has a lot of momentum on the recruiting trail, including stacking wrestlers at similar weight classes.
Quest for a 3-peat for Penn State
Penn State wrestling enters the 2024 season as a heavy favorite to win a third straight national championship. If accomplished, it would be the 12th 3-peat in NCAA wrestling history and the 3rd in Penn State history. The other two occurrences were 4-peats under Cael Sanderson between 2011-2014 and 2016-2019.
The Nittany Lions have a wrestler ranked in the top 20 in all 10 weight classes entering the season. Eight of those 10 wrestlers rank in the top 3 of their respective weight classes. Penn State will have 4 wrestlers ranked No. 1 to enter the season: Levi Haines (157), Carter Starocci (174), Aaron Brooks (197), and Greg Kerkvliet (HWT).
The Nittany Lions will have an opportunity this season for multiple individual national champions, all while putting up a monster team score at the NCAA Tournament in March.
ICYMI: Penn State hockey announces non-conference schedule
The first portion of the Penn State hockey schedule was released this week.
With football just days away and the summer heat still present, not many people are thinking about hockey right now. That is, except for the administrators working on scheduling the upcoming 2023-2024 Penn State hockey campaign.
There is still a lot of work to be done, as the whole Big Ten schedule has yet to be announced, but the first pieces of the Penn State schedule were released this week. It is a typical Penn State hockey non-conference schedule, full of cupcake opponents and lacking a marquee matchup. Let’s break it down.
October 7th @ Long Island
Penn State will travel to Long Island to play one of Division I hockey’s newest foes. Long Island University started its hockey program in the 2020-2021 shortened season and has yet to make much noise. Long Island played two games at Pegula Ice Arena in 2021, both of which were Penn State wins. This is an odd trip for a program like Penn State to make, as the Nittany Lions will play in a community ice rink with almost no seating capacity. Long Island is almost guaranteed a bottom-20 finish, so this is a must-win for Penn State.
October 13/14 @ Clarkson/St. Lawrence
Penn State will continue on the road with a two-game Upstate New York ECAC road trip against Clarkson and St. Lawrence. The Nittany Lions made the same trip in 2017 to open the season, splitting the two games. Clarkson looks to be a contender in the ECAC this year, while St. Lawrence will likely slot in its typical spot near the bottom of the conference. A road win against Clarkson could look very nice on Penn State’s resume come March.
October 20/21 vs. AIC
Continuing the rerun of the 2017 schedule, Penn State will open the home portion of its schedule against AIC. The only time these two teams met was an October 2017 series, in which the teams split. Since then, AIC has been a consistent contender in the Atlantic Hockey Conference and even notched a few NCAA Tournament wins. Still, this is a series Penn State will want to sweep.
October 26/27 vs. Alaska-Anchorage
This Thursday/Friday series will see Alaska-Anchorage travel to Pegula for the first time since 2016, in which it was swept by the Nittany Lions. Alaska-Anchorage is another perennial bottom-dweller, and a loss could damage Penn State’s postseason hopes.
November 24/25 vs. Lindenwood
Even though the schedule looks like Penn State will have a month off, the Nittany Lions won’t. Big Ten play will kick off the first weekend of November and fill the gap between non-conference series. Lindenwood played its first Division I season last year, and this will be the first meeting between the two schools. Again, this is another must-win for Penn State.
January 6 vs. Army
The final non-conference game of the regular season will be against Army on January 6th at Pegula. This will mark the first time Army has come to Pegula since the building’s opening night in October 2013. Army has never been much of a threat on the ice, and there is no reason to see that changing this year, likely with another bottom-20 finish.
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