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Penn State claims four titles at Army

From staff reports

WEST POINT N.Y. – The No. 1 ranked Penn State Nittany Lion wrestling team competed at the 2019 Army West Point Invite on Sunday afternoon, with four different wrestlers winning individual championships at the event.

The Nittany Lions champions were Roman Bravo-Young at 133, Nick Lee at 141, Jarod Verkleeren at 149 and Mark Hall at 174. Luke Gardner was runner-up at 149 as well, dropping a tough bout in an all-Penn State final at that weight.

Bravo-Young, ranked No. 3 at 133, won the first of Penn State’s individual titles at the event. Bravo-Young had a first-round bye and met Bloomsburg’s Shaun Orey in the quarterfinals. The Lion sophomore took on Gregg Wert of Army West Point in the semifinals and battled his way to a 9-4 win, advancing to the finals. Bravo-Young defeated Michigan’s Austin Assad in dominant fashion with a 17-9 major decision. Bravo-Young went 3-0 with two majors to win the Black Knight Invite title at 133.

Lee opened up the tournament making short work of Maryland’s Quinn Devaney. Lee opened up a 12-1 lead in the first period before pinning Devaney at the 2:42 mark. The Nittany Lion junior notched his second first-period fall, pinning Bloomsburg’s Marco Macrino at the 1:29 mark to move to the semifinals. Lee continued his dominant wrestling in the semis, rolling up a number of takedowns and back points on his way to an 18-0 technical fall over Central Michigan’s Drew Martin. In the finals, Lee took on Central Michigan’s Dresden Simon and rolled to an 11-5 win to claim the title.

Verkleeren won the all-Penn State final at 149. Verkleeren opened up a big lead in the opening period of his first-round bout against Michigan’s Nick Lombard before rolling up an 11-point lead in the third. Verkleeren picked up the fall at the 6:34 mark to move into the quarterfinals. He nearly pinned Maryland’s Michael Doetsch in the opening period but settled for a 6-1 win. Verkleeren controlled Hofstra’s Reece Heller in his semifinal bout, posting a strong 6-2 win to advance to the finals. Verkleeren met teammate Gardner in the 149-pound title bout. He used a third period takedown to post a hard fought 3-2 win to go 4-0 on the day.

Hall ranked No. 1 at 174, rolled to a title. Hall made short work of Bloomsburg’s Justin Hayward, taking the Huskie grappler down quickly, turning him a couple times and then getting the first period pin at the 1:44 mark. Hall picked up his second pin of the tournament in the semifinals, getting a second period fall over Maryland’s Phillip Spadafora to advance to the finals. Hall took on Big Ten foe Jacob Covaciu of Indiana in the title and dominated the action. Hall recorded the bout’s only takedowns and posted a 14-2 major with over 3:00 in riding time to take the title.

Gardner lost a hard-fought all-Penn State final at 149. Gardner had a first-round bye and took on Central Michigan’s Luke Raczkowski in the quarterfinals. Gardner dominated the action and rolled to a 12-4 major decision over Raczkowski to move to the semifinals. In the semis, Gardner battled Army West Point’s P.J. Ogunsanya through a rugged seven minutes, coming out on top with a strong 3-0 win. The victory advanced him to the finals where he met teammate Jarod Verkleeren. He dropped a 3-2 decision in the final and ended his day with a 2-1 mark, including a major and a runner-up finish.

The Nittany Lions will return to the mats on Friday, Nov. 22, when Penn State travels to Arizona State for a dual meet. The meet will begin at 9 p.m.

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