There was plenty on the line Friday night when No. 1 Penn State wrestling took on No. 2 Iowa inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa.
The two teams came in with longest dual winning streaks, but after Friday’s match it was only Penn State that still had a winning streak going: The Nittany Lions came out on top, 19-13, to keep their streak alive. Penn State has now won 25 straight duals — the longest active streak in the NCAA as they ended Iowa’s 29-dual winning streak. Iowa had also won 28 straight Big Ten duals.
The Nittany Lions last loss came to the Hawkeyes on Jan. 31, 2020.
Penn State raced out to an early double-digit lead but did not seal the victory until the next to the last match of the night.
Drew Hildebrandt got things off with a bang for the Nittany Lions just as he has since joining the squad at the beginning of the new year. The graduate transfer blew open a 2-0 lead over Jesse Ybarra at 125 with a six-point third period.
Hildebrandt hit a sitting switch early in the third period, punched in a half nelson late for four near-fall points, and added a riding time point to earn a 9-0 major decision to open the dual.
Roman Bravo-Young got another matchup with Austin DeSanto at 133 pounds. DeSanto was deep in on three takedowns attempts in the first period, but Bravo-Young fought them all off.
DeSanto kept pushing the pace in the second period earning a stall point and an escape for a 2-0 lead. Bravo-Young, however, recorded a takedown with 17 seconds left to tie the bout up heading to the third period.
Bravo-Youn used an escape and hung on for a 3-2 win over DeSanto.
In the first matchup of No. 1 vs. No. 2 wrestlers, Nick Lee held a 4-2 lead to open the third period on Jaydin Eierman, thanks to two takedowns. Lee chose neutral to start the third period, and Eierman made him pay with a takedown with just 12 seconds remaining to force sudden victory.
Lee, the reigning NCAA champion, showed off his moxie by tallying a takedown eight seconds into sudden victory for a 6-4 win. Penn State led 10-0 after three bouts.
Iowa responded by winning the next three bouts.
Former District 6 wrestler Max Murin, who competed at Central Cambria, used an escape, takedown and added a riding time point to top Beau Bartlett, 4-1, at 141 pounds.
At 157 pounds, Kaleb Young used an escape and a riding time point to edge Terrell Barraclough, 2-0. Out of the break at 165 pounds, Alex Marinelli came up big and outpaced Brady Berge.
Marinelli collected two stall points from Berge, had three takedowns and added a riding time point for a 10-2 major decision in tying the dual at 10-10.
The other No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup came at 174 pounds with Carter Starocci taking on Michael Kemerer in what turned out to be a very controversial match. Starocci was deep on several shots in the first period, but Kemerer’s heavy hips kept the Nittany Lions wrestler from scoring.
The pair traded escapes to head to sudden victory, but the Hawkeyes’ coaching staff thought Starocci interlocked his hands. The call was challenged, but the call on the mat stood with no locked hands call.
In sudden victory, the duo was in a scramble situation late where Kemerer was awarded a takedown, sending the crowd into a frenzy. However, after review there was no time on the clock when the takedown was awarded, sending the bout into ultimate tie-breaker ride-out periods.
Starocci escaped easily in the first ride-out period. In the other period, Starocci used a full ride to secure a 2-1 win. The victory gave Penn State a 13-10 lead — one the Nittany Lions wouldn’t lose.
Aaron Brooks took care of Abe Assad with ease at 184 pounds in an 8-3 win. Brooks snapped off three takedowns and amassed 1:52 in riding time in the victory.
Max Dean stepped on the mat for the Nittany Lions looking to rebound from a loss against Michigan State at 197 pounds. It didn’t start out well for Dean as he gave up a counter takedown to No. 4 Jacob Warner.
Warner extended that lead to 3-0 at the start of the third period after having added an escape in the second period. Dean stayed calm and collected.
He escaped nine seconds into the third period. With 40 seconds remaining in the bout, Dean took Warner down to tie the bout. Dean punished Warner into a stall point and then cranked the Iowa wrestler to his back for near fall points.
Dean earned an 8-3 come-from-behind win and sealed the dual victory for Penn State. The Nittany Lions led 19-10 heading to the final bout.
Greg Kerkvliet looked to collect another top-five win, this one would come against No. 5 Tony Cassioppi. It started out well with Kerkvliet securing an early takedown.
However, Cassioppi used two big body locks to rebound and earn a 7-2 victory.
With just two Big Ten duals remaining, Penn State is almost a lock for the regular season dual team title, but its biggest remaining test comes on Feb. 4 against Ohio State inside the Bryce Jordan Center.
No. 1 Penn State 19, No. 2 Iowa 13
Friday at Iowa City, Iowa
125: No. 7 Drew Hildebrandt, PSU, major dec. Jesse Ybarra, 9-0
133: No. 1 Roman Bravo-Young, PSU, dec. No. 3 Austin DeSanto, 3-2
141: No. 1 Nick Lee, PSU, dec. No. 2 Jaydin Eierman, 6-4 (SV)
149: No. 10 Max Murin, I, dec. No. 19 Beau Bartlett, 4-1
157: No. 12 Kaleb Young, I, dec. Terrell Barraclough, 2-0
165: No. 5 Alex Marinelli, I, major dec. No. 11 Brady Berge, 10-2
174: No. 1 Carter Starocci, PSU, dec. No. 2 Michael Kemerer, 2-1 (UTB1)
184: No. 1 Aaron Brooks, PSU, dec. No. 17 Abe Assad, 8-3
197: No. 2 Max Dean, PSU, dec. No. 4 Jacob Warner, 8-3
285: No. 5 Tony Cassioppi, I, dec. No. 3 Greg Kerkvliet, 7-2
Takedowns: PSU 10, I 8
Records: Penn State (14-0, 6-0 Big Ten), Iowa (11-1, 5-1)
Next match: Ohio State at Penn State, Feb. 4, 7 p.m.