The third-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes took on #2 PSU Nittany Lions at home in an absolutely packed Bryce-Jordan Center. The atmosphere was electric; the thousands of people who came to watch great wrestling would not be disappointed. Even after the opening introductions and the two lineups shook hands, the crowd refused to settle down, exciting themselves for the match. Many questions were about to be answered. Has Mark Hall gotten his mojo back? How does freshman Rocky Jordan match up against higher-ranked Aaron Brooks? Can “Gas Tank Gary” pull yet another upset? Can Nick Lee overcome the terror of 141 pounds, #1 Luke Pletcher? Yet now the match is over and all the questions we had are now clear as day. So here are the 5 biggest takeaways from Penn State vs. Ohio State.
Brooks is jumping levels
Although this bout was regarded by some as an extremely competitive matchup, Aaron Brooks continues to prove people wrong as he proceeded to defeat #12 freshman Rocky Jordan. Brooks scored a total of six takedowns and earned 3:08 minutes of riding time before the buzzer sounded, ending the match 15-4. Rocky Jordan recently defeated Taylor Venz of Nebraska, who handed Brooks his only loss of the season. With some extremely dynamic offense and stingy defense, it wouldn’t be a surprise to find Brooks standing on the podium come March!
Hall back in the swing?
As of late, it had been rumored that something wasn’t quite right with Mark Hall this season, as evidenced by his loss to then #2 Michael Kemerer of Iowa and a hard-fought descion over #8 Devin Skatzka of Minnesota, whom he had teched previously. Yet Hall wasted no time against #7 Kaleb Romero, icing a quick twister to his back and pinning him in a mere 46 seconds. In addition to this, when asked about how he was recovering from his loss to Kemerer he replied that he’s “never felt better.” Clearly Hall is rebounding quite well from his loss; hopefully we get to see that matchup again later this season.
“[Verkleeren] has been right there.”
“That’s kinda his story.” These quotes were from Coach Cael Sanderson during the post-match press conference when he was asked about Jarod Verkleerens’ performances the past two dual meets. Over the past week, Verkleeren has taken two losses, two top-10 opponents. While Verkleerens’ #17 ranking, it might not surprise you that he fell to #7 Brayton Lee and #1 Sammy Sasso. What would surprise you is that Verk was in a position to win both matches, forcing them to go into overtime. Verkleeren, despite having a rough start to his season, has been steadily improving with a win over #13 Cole Martin. The key to his success is going to be to close out these tight matches, but if he can figure it out then he can be an All-American contender by his senior year.
The Gas Tank comes to the BJC!
Gary “Gas Tank” Traub received his nickname due to his tremendous conditioning which allows him to wear down many of his opponents. Against the Nittany Lion’s higher-ranked Seth Nevills he was able to pull out a come from behind victory, scoring a reversal and a takedown to pull ahead from Nevills’ 3-1 lead. Traub has had a decent season so far, but this may be his best win so far!
Nick Lee: New #1.
#1 Luke Pletcher has been on a warpath ever since his move to 141 pounds at the start of the season. #2 Nick Lee, after a disappointing NCAAs in 2019, rebounded strong and has refused to look back. These two, destined for a crash collision, met under the bright spotlight at the BJC. Pletcher struck first, seizing a quick takedown then cutting Lee for a 2-1 lead. But Lee didn’t lose his cool, getting a takedown in the second period and forcing two stalling calls, stealing the lead from Pletcher 4-3. By the end of the match, Nick amassed nearly two minutes of riding time and scored multiple takedowns; a very dominant performance for the #2 wrestler in the country over the #1. If all goes well we will see these two compete against each other twice more this season! But until then, Nick Lee is #1 in the country.
These have been some brief takeaways from the Penn State/Ohio State match that happened February 15th, 2020. Penn State will return back to Rec Hall on February 23rd against American.