HUSKER WRESTLING: No. 3 Nebraska Drops Dual at No. 1 Penn State

UNIVERSITY PARK, PA–(NU Athletics Feb. 18)–Four Huskers claimed bout victories, but it was not enough as the No. 3 Nebraska wrestling team fell to top-ranked Penn State on Sunday afternoon, 22-13.

Caleb Smith (125) earned an upset major decision victory, Ridge Lovett remained undefeated at 149 and Lenny Pinto grabbed a 184 Top 10 decision, but PSU used three bonus-points to improve to 11-0 on the year and claim the Big Ten Regular Season title. With the loss, NU fell to 11-2 (6-2 Big Ten) on the season.

The meet started at 125 where No. 12 Smith faced No. 6 Braeden Davis of Penn State. The two wrestled a scoreless first period before Smith scored an escape, two takedowns and four nearfall points to earn the 11-3 major decision and his second-straight Top 10 victory.

With the early 4-0 lead for NU, No. 17 Jacob Van Dee wrestled unranked Baylor Shunk at 133. Van Dee held the advantage early after two takedowns in Period One and held steady to earn his sixth Big Ten victory, 6-2.

Up next at 141, No. 7 Brock Hardy faced No. 1 Beau Bartlett, looking for his second win all-time against the Nittany Lion. Hardy earned an escape in each period and a takedown, but it was not enough as Bartlett held on late for the 9-6 decision.

At 149, undefeated and top-ranked Lovett met true freshman No. 9 Tyler Kasak. Lovett gave up his first dual takedown of the year, but responded quickly with a reversal and an escape to tie the match 3-3 with one period remaining. In Period Three, Lovett took a shot and scored the takedown en route to his 10th ranked win of the season, 7-3.

In a rematch of last year’s Big Ten Finals, No. 7 Peyton Robb faced top-ranked Levi Haines at 157 with the Huskers leading 10-3. Robb earned three escapes, but Haines used three takedowns to take the 10-3 decision.

After a brief intermission, No. 15 Antrell Taylor wrestled Penn State’s undefeated No. 6 Mitchell Mesenbrink at 165. Taylor scored a quick takedown in the opening seconds and held the early 3-1 lead with two periods remaining. Mesenbrink then got his first lead of the match with a takedown and added another takedown to claim the decision, 9-5, and cut the overall Husker lead to 10-9.

At 174, No. 33 Bubba Wilson faced Penn State’s fourth top-ranked wrestler of the day, Carter Starocci. Three-time NCAA Champion Starocci scored takedowns in every period to earn the 20-4 tech. fall over Wilson, and Penn State took its first lead of the dual.

No. 3 Pinto then wrestled No. 6 Bernie Truax at 184 in the dual’s fourth Top 10 bout. Pinto came out firing with two early takedowns and used great defense to lead 6-3 after two periods. Truax scored a takedown in the final period, but Pinto tallied a pair of escapes to hold on for the 8-6 decision.

With two matches remaining and the Huskers down by one overall, two Big Ten Champs met as No. 13 Silas Allred faced No. 1 Aaron Brooks at 197. Allred earned escape points, but Brooks controlled from start to finish to claim the 17-4 major decision and pushed the Penn State lead to 18-13.

In the final bout of the day, Nash Hutmacher squared off against top-ranked and undefeated Greg Kerkvliet at heavyweight. Kerkvliet controlled the match and momentum from the beginning and stayed undefeated on the year with the 10-0 major decision.

Up next, the Huskers close out regular-season competition as they travel to Tempe, Ariz., on Sunday, Feb. 25, to face No. 20 Arizona State. Action is set to begin at 2 p.m. (CT) and will be streamed on the Pac-12 Network.

No. 1 Penn State 22, No. 3 Nebraska 13

125: No. 12 Smith major dec. No. 6 Braeden Davis (PSU) 11-3 (NEB 4, PSU 0)

133: No. 17 Van Dee dec. Baylor Shunk (PSU) 6-2 (NEB 7, PSU 0)

141: No. 1 Beau Bartlett (PSU) dec. No. 7 Hardy 9-6 (NEB 7, PSU 3)

149: No. 1 Lovett dec. No. 9 Tyler Kasak (PSU) 7-3 (NEB 10, PSU 3)

157: No. 1 Levi Haines (PSU) dec. No. 7 Robb 10-3 (NEB 10, PSU 6)

165: No. 6 Mitchell Mesenbrink (PSU) dec. No. 15 Taylor 9-5 (NEB 10, PSU 9)

174: No. 1 Carter Starocci (PSU) tech. fall No. 33 Wilson 20-4 (5:58) (PSU 14, NEB 10)

184: No. 3 Pinto dec. No. 6 Bernie Truax (PSU) 8-6 (PSU 14, NEB 13)

197: No. 1 Aaron Brooks (PSU) major dec. No. 13 Silas Allred 17-4 (PSU 18, NEB 13)

HWT: No. 1 Greg Kerkvliet (PSU) major dec. Nash Hutmacher 10-0 (PSU 22, NEB 13)