Mark Hall and the new Aaron Brooks led the Penn State wrestlers to a 23:10 win over Lehigh
BETHLEHEM – Penn State threw a number of surprises on the mat on Friday night in Lehigh. The end result, a 23:10 win over Lehigh, was pretty much what was expected and what the third-placed Nittany Lions needed.
From a sane Brady Berge to a dominant Mark Hall to the unexpected appearance of Aaron Brooks, the overall performance was more than enough to beat a talented Mountain Hawk roster.
Penn State (2-1) won seven fights, but only one that earned bonus points, which is far from the status quo. But when Berge overtook four-time West Virginia Champion Josh Humphrey 5-3 at 157, he started a four-fight win over Nittany Lion, and Brooks’ win at 184 gave the Lions an insurmountable 20-7 advantage two remaining fights.
In between there was a routine 7-4 win by Vincenzo Joseph at 165 and an anything but routine win by Hall against Jordan Kutler at 174.
What was at stake? On the one hand, a new winning streak. The 60-match streak that died two weeks ago in the Arizona desert is old news. The win over Lehigh and the heavy favoring of Penn on Sunday gave Penn State a new approach that this team has not needed in a long time.
“I think we had a good fire today and we wrestled hard,” said Hall. “I still think we can get more. We just have to learn how to wrestle hard no matter where we are, where we are competing, whether at home or out, or what the situation is like. We just have to put our best foot forward and wrestle so hard.
“I think we did better tonight. And we’re going to keep doing better and better just making sure we have the right mindset, especially in the upcoming Big Ten season. “
HOW IT HAPPENED: This match was fiercely competitive and didn’t disappoint. Lehigh won three fights and was more than competitive in at least three others. Although Jarod Verkleeren lost an overtime fight at 149 after Nick Lee Lehighs dismantled Joe Lobeck at 141, Berge provided the spark coach Cael Sanderson was looking for.
“I thought Berge did a good job,” said Sanderson. “It was his first match in a while and his first match in this weight class. I was glad he got to wrestle. I think he’s a guy who’ll get better if we keep going here. “
And before the season, Sanderson hadn’t planned to get Brooks into the starting XI. He beat Wyoming Seminary’s Chris Weiler via Biglerville 5-10 at 184, and history has shown that best plans can change.
“If we were going to wrestle with him, it made sense to get him out now and let him get away and home through those big double meetings,” Sanderson said of Brooks. “It just felt like it was the right thing to do.
“That was his first double meeting in two years. You know he’s a spark plug. They know he’s the type we think can fight for a national title in this weight class. After three months of college wrestling, I think he’ll jump a few levels, ”said Sanderson.
STAR (S) OF THE SHOW: You can list Berge and Brooks, and Lee and Anthony Cassar, and not far away, but Hall was a machine with a game plan that he did almost flawlessly.
His opening attack on Jordan Kutler # 2 was a slight shrug in 28 seconds and he drove the remaining 2:32. Kutler got on Hall’s legs in the second, climbed behind him and lifted him high in the air to bring the deficit down to 3-2, but after that it was all Hall. He stuck to a low single and prevailed against a flood, had 2:17 in driving time and rolled to a 7-2 win.
“I thought Hall wrestled very well. He wrestled with the second tallest man in the country, ”said Sanderson. “He went out there and got the takedown and ran out the time that gives him a big advantage. And then he got the last farewell, that was good to see. “
SAY WHAT: “It was pretty electrifying, it was a lot of fun,” said Brooks. “I haven’t fought a dual since high school. All of my teammates knew it was my first match. They just made sure I was ready and that I was smiling. We’re just always ready to wrestle. Whenever it is our time, we are ready. “
– “Oh yeah, he’s tough,” Hall said of Brooks. “You saw how I wrestled against the second tallest man in the country today. If I ride Aaron, he’ll escape. He’s tough and we look forward to him. “
WHAT ELSE HAPPENED: Freshman Brandon Meredith made his college debut at 125 but faced Brandon Paetzell # 11 and dropped a 15-5 decision. Roman Bravo-Young followed Meredith with the Lions’ first victory and defeated Jaret Lane three times with a 7-2 victory. Lane is a two-time PIAA champion from southern Colombia. … Lee, 141 years old, sat down at nine against Lehigh’s Joe Lobeck in a takedown clinic and that led to a technical fall of 22-7 that lasted the entire seven minutes. … Penn State’s Kyle Conel still doesn’t look sharp at 197. Conel, who had previously got in on two single legs but couldn’t finish, did the same but was flattened and Jakobsen slipped around for the profit margin. And heavyweight Cassar once again disappointedly sent the 6,047 spectators home at the Stabler Arena after stopping Jordan Hall 9-4. … Penn State won the takedown battle, 24-12.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT: Penn State hosts the University of Pennsylvania on Sunday at 2 p.m. After that there will be no more double meetings until January 10th and 12th, both in the Rec Hall against Illinois and Northwestern respectively. In between, wrestlers will scatter to compete in tournaments ranging from the US Senior Nationals to the Wilkes Open to the Southern Scuffle and others.
PENN STATE 23, LEHIGH 10
125: Brandon Paetzell, L md Brandon Meredith 15-5.
133: Roman Bravo-Young, PS dec Jaret Lane 7-2.
141: Nick Lee, PS Tech drop Joe Lobeck 7:00 (22-7).
149: Jimmy Hoffman, L dec Jarod Disguise 3-1 OT.
157: Brady Berge, PS dec Josh Humphreys 5-3.
165: Vincenzo Joseph, PS dec Brian Meyer 7-4.
174: Mark Hall, PS dec Jordan Kutler 7-2.
184: Aaron Brooks, PS dec Chris Weiler 10-5.
197: Jake Jakobsen, L dec Kyle Conel 3-1.
285: Anthony Cassar, PS dec Jordan Wood 9-4.