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Skunked

Nittany Lions destroy Terps in home dual

Sentinel photo courtesy of Mark Selders, PSU Athletics
Penn State’s Beau Bartlett, top, scores back points against Maryland’s Hunter Baxter on Monday night in a Big Ten dual meet at Rec Hall. Bartlett won, 9-3.

UNIVERSITY PARK — Just when you thought the No. 2 Penn State wrestling team couldn’t get any younger, or better, the Nittany Lions debuted yet another blue-chip freshman Monday night.

In a 44-0 dismantling of Maryland (0-8) at Rec Hall, Penn State (6-0) celebrated both its seniors and its promising future with a lineup that featured six freshmen.

“I think the guys wrestled well tonight. I think we scored a lot of points and, just in some areas that they’ve been working on individually,” Penn State Coach Cael Sanderson said. “We’re happy with where we’re at and trying to get a little bit better between now and the next competition and just keep that rolling.”

The Nittany Lions celebrated Senior Night in style, as it swept all 10 bouts and amassed more takedowns than team points, 47-2. It was Penn State’s lone home dual meet. Luke Gardner, Scott Oberderfer, Bo Pipher and Jarod Verkleeren were all honored before the match in a brief ceremony.

The Nittany Lions racked up three falls, five major decisions and a pair of decisions in earning its first shutout win since a 42-0 thrashing of Lehigh on Dec. 2, 2018.

Greg Kerkvliet got the start at 285 pounds to bring the total of Nittany Lion freshmen to six, while simultaneously raising its talent level. That came as a surprise after Sanderson had said three weeks ago that he probably wouldn’t be available this season.

He didn’t disappoint in his collegiate debut. The dual meet started at 285 and he scored three slick takedowns before locking up a cradle and notching a fall in 1:12.

“He was cleared to compete, so he competed,” Sanderson said of his talented freshman heavyweight.

Sanderson wouldn’t commit to saying Kerkvliet would be his postseason starter.

“That’s something we have to figure out, obviously, between now and next weekend,” he said.

Robbie Howard increased Penn State’s lead to 12-0, building a 12-1 lead before scoring a fall in 3:38. Joe Lee secured the third fall for the Lions as he jumped out to a 16-3 lead before locking up a cradle and getting the fall in 5:56.

“I think every match I’m getting a little bit more comfortable with my wrestling,” Lee said. “It’s been a good year. I’m really grateful for the matches I’ve gotten so far.”

Most of the Penn State major decisions were built on an abundance of takedowns. At 133, Roman Bravo-Young piled up 10 in his 24-13 win. Aaron Brooks scored seven takedowns in a variety of ways in a 17-5 win at 184. Carter Starocci displayed more offense on his feet than at any previous time this season, notching six takedowns in a 15-6 win. And, at 197, Michael Beard’s five takedowns enabled him to coast to a 13-4 major.

Beau Bartlett, who seems to be Penn State’s answer for the postseason at 149 pounds, displayed his takedown prowess as he used three takedowns and a reversal to earn a 9-3 decision. At 157, Gardner celebrated Senior Night in winning fashion. With the match tied 2-2 in the third period, he scored a takedown and then locked up a cradle for four nearfall points in an 8-2 win.

Penn State has nearly two weeks to train before hosting the 2021 Big Ten Championships on March 6-7 at the Bryce Jordan Center. With attendance limited to 500 people, the Big Ten Network announced that it will televise all three sessions of the tournament.

While Sanderson wouldn’t confirm that Bartlett and Kerkvilet will be postseason starters, he did say they and the rest of the first-year starters are looking good.

“I think all the freshmen are wrestling well,” he said. “They have a lot of experience. They have a history of success and so, you know, nothing unexpected there, I don’t think.”

No. 2 Penn State 44 Maryland 0

(Monday at University Park)

285: Greg Kerkvliet, PSU, pinned Garret Kappes, 1:12. 125: Robbie Howard, PSU, pinned Zach Spence, 3:38. 133: No. 3 Roman Bravo-Young, PSU, maj. dec. Jackson Cockrell, 24-13.141: No. 2 Nick Lee, PSU, maj. dec. Danny Bertoni, 14-2. 149: Beau Bartlett, PSU, dec. Hunter Baxter, 9-3. 157: Luke Gardner, PSU, dec. Michael Doetsch, 8-2. 165: No. 14 Joe Lee, PSU, pinned Jonathan Spadafora, 5:56. 174: No. 5 Carter Starocci, PSU, maj. dec. Philip Spadafora, 15-6. 184: No. 2 Aaron Brooks, PSU, maj. dec. Kyle Cochran, 17-5. 197: No. 16 Michael Beard, PSU, maj. dec. Jaron Smith, 13-4.

Extra matches

Beau Bartlett, PSU, maj. dec. Lucas Cordio, 15-7. Bo Pipher, PSU, pinned Garret Fisk, 3:35. Donovan Ball, PSU, dec. Kevin Makosy, 7-5 SV. Greg Kerkvliet, PSU, pinned Connor Bowes, 1:18.

Referee: Matt Sorochinsky.

Takedowns: Maryland 2; Penn State 47.

Records: Maryland 0-8; Penn State 6-0. Next match: 2021 Big Ten Wrestling Championships, March 6-7 at the Bryce Jordan Center.

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