WEST POINT, N.Y. -- The Penn State Nittany Lions (1-0, 0-0 B1G), ranked No. 1 nationally by InterMat, dominated action at the 2019 Army West Point Invite on Sunday in West Point, N.Y. Fifteen Penn Staters competed at nine weights and the Nittany Lions came away with four champions with 11 total place-winners.
The Nittany Lions four champions were Roman Bravo-Young (Tucson, Ariz.) at 133, Nick Lee (Evansville, Ind.) at 141, Jarod Verkleeren (Greensburg, Pa.) at 149 and Mark Hall (Apple Valley, Minn.) at 174. Luke Gardner (Pottsville, Pa.) 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. Bravo-Young dominated the bout on his way to a 22-9 major decision. 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 took on Michigan's Austin Assad in Penn State's first finals bout of the day. The Lion sophomore dominated all 7:00 of the bout, picking up three takedowns in each of the first two periods, on his way to posting a 17-9 major decision. Bravo-Young went 3-0 with two majors to win the Black Knight Invite title at 133.
Lee, ranked No. 3 at 141, picked up the crown at his weight. 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. Lee's tech came at the 3:32 mark in the second period. In the finals, Lee took on Central Michigan's Dresden Simon and rolled to an 11-5 win to claim the title. Lee went 4-0 with two pins and a major at the tournament.
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 and take the crown. Verkleeren went 4-0 with a pin on the day.
Hall, ranked No. 1 at 174, rolled to the title at 174. After a first-round bye, 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 at the 4:12 mark to advance to the finals. Hall took on Big Ten foe Jacob Covaciu of Indiana in the title bout at 174 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. The Lion senior went 3-0 with two pins on the day.
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.
Freshman Brody Teske (Duncombe, Iowa) rolled to a third-place finish at 125, with his lone loss to a nationally ranked foe. Teske won his first match over Army West Point's Ryan Chauvin, bolting out to a 2-0 lead in the first period, led by nine after two and ended the bout with a fall at the 6:10 mark. He then took care of Maryland's Brandon Cray, rolling to an 8-3 decision to advance to the semifinals. Teske battled No. 11 Drew Hildebrand of Central Michigan in the semifinals and dropped a 6-0 match. The Lion freshman then rolled up 20 points on Chauvin in a second meeting, posting a 20-10 major to advance to the conso final/third place bout. Teske took on Michigan's Jack Medley in a Big Ten battle for third place and came away with a 5-4 win after 7:00 hard-fought minutes. Teske took third with a 4-1 day, including a pin and a major.
Freshman Konner Kraeszig (Louisville, Ky.) had an outstanding weekend, taking third at 165. Kraeszig had a first-round bye. He met Indiana's Davey Tunon in the quarterfinals and dominated the Hoosier to the tune of a 15-4 major decision (with over 3:00 in riding time). Kraeszig then met No. 12 Cael McCormick of Army West Point in the semifinals. Kraeszig battled the ranked Knight tough for seven minutes before falling 7-3. He then met Tracy Hubbard of Central Michigan in the consolation semifinals and rolled to a 15-5 major with over 3:00 in riding time. Kraeszig's major moved him into the third-place bout where he met Michigan's Layne Van Anrooy. Kraeszig battled the Wolverine for 7:00-plus minutes before using a scrambling takedown in extra time to post a 3-1 (sv) win. Kraeszig took third place with a 4-1 day that included two majors. His lone loss was to a nationally ranked grappler.
Freshman Brandon Meredith (Limerick, Pa.) was impressive at 125 and placed fifth at the event . Meredith had a first-round bye. He then battled No. 11 Drew Hildebrand of Central Michigan in the quarterfinals and lost an 8-0 major. In consolation action, Meredith posted a 12-4 major over Bloomsburg's Christian Gannone. He then took on teammate Devin Schnupp in the next round of consolation action and used a third period takedown to post a 4-2 victory. Meredith faced off against Michigan's Jack Medley in the conso semis and lost a 7-2 decision. He took on Army's Ryan Chauvin for fifth and rolled to a 22-7 tech fall at the 6:23 mark. Meredith took fifth after a 3-2 day, including a major and a tech fall.
Junior Bo Pipher (Paonia, Colo.) picked up a couple falls at 157 and took fifth at the event. Pipher took on Army's Luke Weiland in the first round. The Lion lost a tough 6-1 decision to Weiland and moved into consolation action. After trailing Indiana's Fernando Silva early, Pipher battled back to even the action before ending the bout with a quick move and a pin, getting the fall at the 6:03 mark. Pipher then locked up Army's Markus Hartman quickly in his next match, getting the fast fall at the 0:49 mark to advance to the consolation semifinals. Pipher suffered a 7-3 loss to Central Michigan's Logan Parks in the conso semis and then picked up a medical forfeit victory in the fifth-place bout. Pipher went 3-2 with two pins on the day to take fifth place.
Freshman Creighton Edsell (Wyalusing, Pa.) was solid at 184 as well, placing fifth. Edsell met No. 17 Jelani Embree off Michigan in the opening round. The Lion freshman met the ranked Wolverine step for step over the 7:00 match before dropping a hard-fought 3-1 decision. Edsell received a bye in his first consolation bout and then took on Indiana's Jakob Hinz. Edsell dominated Hinz, posting an 8-4 win to move into the consolation semifinals. Edsell dropped a tough 6-3 decision to Maryland's Kyle Jasenski in the conso semis and then rebounded to post a dominant 11-4 win over Central Michigan's Ben Cushman in the fifth-place match. Edsell went 2-2 on the day.
Sophomore Austin Hoopes (Afton, Wyo.) took sixth place at 197. Hoopes battled Maryland's Niko Capello tough in the opening round before dropping a 3-2 decision. In his first consolation bout, Hoopes received the medical forfeit win over Conel. He took on Bloomsburg's Kyle Murphy in the next consolation round and needed 10 minutes to pick up the victory. Hoopes rode Murphy out in the second tie-breaker to post a 3-2 (tb2) victory and continue on in the tournament. He bowed out of the tournament after a 10-4 loss to Central Michigan's Landon Pelham. He then lost a hard-fought 3-2 decision to CMU's Aaron Bolo in the fifth-place match, going 2-3 on the day for sixth.
Graduate Kyle Conel (Ashtabula, Ohio), ranked No. 3 at 197, bowed out of the tournament early after a medical forfeit. Conel posted a hard-fought 2-1 (tb) win over Maryland's Jaron Smith in the opening round, escaping in his tie-breaker period after riding Smith out. Conel took on Aaron Bolo of Central Michigan in the quarterfinals. After taking an early lead with the bout's lone takedown, Conel was injured on an escape in the third period, continued but could not break free of Bolo's ride and was reversed. He dropped a 5-3 decision and then medically forfeited (not a second loss) out of the tournament.
Junior Devin Schnupp (Lititz, Pa.) grabbed one win at 125. Schnupp dropped a tough 3-1 decision to Army West Point's Trey Chalifoux in the first round, nearly tying the bout with a late scramble before dropping into consolations with the loss. Schnupp was tied with Maryland's Brandon Cray late in the third period before Cray was injured, giving Schnupp the injury default victory. Schnupp then dropped a tough 4-2 decision to teammate Brandon Meredith to bow out of the tournament with a 1-2 mark.
Freshman Paul Feite (Dillsburg, Pa.) picked up a win at 157. Feite opened up the tournament against Indiana's Fernando Silva. Feite's late takedown was not enough in an 8-3 loss and the Lion moved into consolation action. The Lion freshman picked up a victory in his first consolation bout, posting a 3-2 decision over Bloomsburg's Nate Newberry. Feite bowed out of the tournament after a 12-3 loss to Maryland's Jahi Jones, posting a 1-2 mark on the day.
Senior Dominic Giannangeli (Murrysville, Pa.) competed at 141.Giannangeli dropped a hard-fought 4-0 decision to Hunter Baxter of Maryland in the opening round. He then took on Army's Logan Brown in his first consolation bout. Brown got the fall at the 2:31 mark and Giannangeli bowed out of the tournament.
Four top-ranked Nittany Lions either did not wrestle at the event: No. 5 Brady Berge (Mantorville, Minn.), No. 2 Shakur Rasheed (Coram, N.Y.) .) and No. 1 Anthony Cassar (Rocky Hill, N.J.) did not compete at 157, 184 and 285 respectively; No. 1 Vincenzo Joseph (Pittsburgh, Pa.) competed this weekend at the Bill Farrell Open in New York City, advancing to the semifinals.
Penn State will take its 1-0 dual meet record to Tempe, Ariz., next weekend to battle No. 6 Arizona State. The Nittany Lions and Sun Devils will tangle on Friday, Nov. 22, at 9 p.m. Eastern / 7 p.m. local. The dual airs on the Pac 12 networks with the Penn State Radio Network's Jeff Byers' broadcast live for free via LionVision at GoPSUsports.com.