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Penn State steals show in NCAA finals, Iowa claims 24th team title

Roman Bravo-Young won Penn State's first of four NCAA titles Saturday (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)

Results: Brackets

ST. LOUIS -- While Iowa finished on top of the team standings at the 2021 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships, it was Penn State that stole the show Saturday night at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis.

The Nittany Lions went a perfect 4-for-4 in the finals. Winning national titles for Penn State were Roman Bravo-Young (133), Nick Lee (141), Carter Starocci (174) and Aaron Brooks (184).

"Our guys just did a really nice job," said Penn State head wrestling coach Cael Sanderson. "I think they just believed and they found a way. I think we had three overtimes and a tight match there at 84. It's just great to see the toughness out of the guys. I think that's where that belief really kicks in."

Iowa's Spencer Lee rides ASU's Brandon Courtney (Photo/Darren Miller, HawkeyeSports.com)

Iowa's Spencer Lee, who was wrestling with a torn ACL, claimed his third NCAA title at 125 pounds with a 7-0 victory over Arizona State's Brandon Courtney.

Courtney, the No. 3 seed, battled Lee tough early as the match was scoreless heading into the second period. Lee began to pull away in the second period, getting an escape, takedown and point off a third caution to lead 4-0 after two periods. He would add a takedown and riding time point in the final period to win by seven.

Lee, a 2020 Dan Hodge Trophy winner, became Iowa's seventh three-time NCAA champion. He was the lone Hawkeye to win a national title, as his teammates Jaydin Eierman (141) and Michael Kemerer (174) fell in the finals. Iowa won the team title with 129 points, 15.5 points ahead of Penn State, and finished with seven All-American, including three NCAA finalists.

"It's been 11 years since a real important trophy has been in Iowa City," said Iowa head wrestling coach Tom Brands.

Lee talked about how it took a team effort to win the team title.

"You can't win a team title with just one guy," Lee said. "Even if I pinned every single opponent the most I can score is 30 points, and I'm pretty sure the second and third place teams were above 100. You can't win it with one guy. You have to win it with a team. That's all that matters. It takes a team effort."

Lee paid tribute to last year's seniors who lost an opportunity to compete for a national title in 2020 after the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships were canceled due to the pandemic.

"I didn't just do this for me," said Lee. "I did this for the seniors that lost out last year. I'm getting kind of emotional. I wanted them to win with us. They didn't get that opportunity. I don't even care about this trophy right now. I want to give it to my one brother who wasn't able to compete here last year."

The night started with Penn State's Bravo-Young picking up a 4-2 win in sudden victory over Oklahoma State's Daton Fix at 133 pounds.

After a scoreless first period, Fix chose the down position and RBY rode him out the entire period but picked up a stall warning. Fix cut Bravo-Young loose to start the third period. Fix continued to press forward and with 35 seconds remaining RBY was called for stalling, giving Fix a point … and a short time later, RBY was hit for stalling again, which eventually sent the match to sudden victory. In sudden victory, Bravo-Young countered an attack and secured a match-winning takedown.

"I knew I was going to wrestle hard in every position," said Bravo-Young. "I wanted that match. A lot of pressure, but man it feels good. I'm happy right now. Grateful."

Penn State's Nick Lee is overcome with emotion after winning the NCAA title at 141 pounds (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)

Nick Lee followed up at 141 pounds with a 4-2 win in sudden victory over Iowa's Jaydin Eierman, avenging his only loss of the season two weeks ago at the Big Ten Championships.

After 0-0 first period, Eierman escaped early in the second period to go up 1-0. The score stayed that way the rest of the period. Lee chose neutral to start the third period and picked up an early takedown to grab a 2-1 lead. Eierman escaped a short time later to even the score at 2-2. Eierman nearly scored a takedown in the closing moments of regulation, but Lee fought it off, which sent it to sudden victory. In sudden victory, Lee used an inside trip to get a takedown and win the national title.

Penn State's Carter Starocci celebrates after beating Iowa's Michael Kemerer (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)

Starocci, like his teammate Nick Lee, avenged a loss from the Big Ten finals against an Iowa wrestler, beating No. 1 Michael Kemerer 3-1 in sudden victory. The two wrestlers traded escapes in the second and third period and regulation ended 1-1. In overtime, Starocci countered with a double leg powered through for a takedown. Kemerer entered the tournament seeded No. 1 and undefeated.

Aaron Brooks became Penn State's 48th national champion (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)

Brooks used a second-period reversal to help him earn a hard-fought 3-2 win over NC State's Trent Hidlay in the finals at 184 pounds. Hidlay nearly had a takedown with 20 seconds left in the match (call was challenged by NC State and upheld), but Brooks fought it off and earned the victory, becoming Penn State's 48th national champion.

Stanford's Shane Griffith topped Pitt's Jake Wentzel to win the title at 165 pounds (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)

Eighth-seeded Shane Griffith brought the fans to their feet by winning a national championship for Stanford in the program's final season of competition. He topped Pitt's Jake Wentzel 7-2 in the finals at 165 pounds. He was named Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament.


Griffith, wearing an all-black singlet with no school logo, scored a takedown in the opening period off a merkle. The third-seeded Wentzel escaped to cut the deficit to 2-1 after one. In the second period, Wentzel evened the score with another escape. With the score tied at 2-2, Griffith chose neutral to start the third period. He converted a takedown with just over a minute remaining and then picked up late nearfall points to win by five. After Griffith's win, the crowd began chanting "Bring back Stanford!" He becomes the school's second national champion ever and first since Matt Gentry won a title in 2014.

"We all had goals coming into the season before this pandemic and the [school's] decision came out," said Griffith. "Its a little fuel to the tank, just try to prove them wrong."

Griffith said the fight remains to keep the Stanford wrestling program.

"Just keep fighting the fight," said Griffith. "Whether it's a weeklong battle, yearlong ... 10 years ... who knows ... I know we're going to keep fighting the fight.

"There is nothing more that we are trying to do than to keep this program at Stanford. The way things are rolling right now I think we have a good shot."

Iowa State's David Carr after winning the NCAA title at 157 pounds (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)

Iowa State's David Carr added to the Carr family legacy by claiming his first NCAA title at 157 pounds, 40 years after his father Nate won his first NCAA title as a Cyclone. Carr shut out Rider's Jesse Dellavecchia 4-0 in the championship match. The match was scoreless after the first period. In the second period, Carr escaped to go up 1-0 before getting a takedown off a double leg to build his led to 3-0. Dellavecchia chose the down position to start the third period and was ridden out the entire period, giving Carr an additional point for riding time.

A.J. Ferrari flexes after winning the NCAA title as a true freshman (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)

A.J. Ferrari became only third true freshman for Oklahoma State to win a national title and first since Pat Smith in 1990. He defeated Pitt's Nino Bonaccorsi 4-2 in the finals at 197 pounds.

The ultra-confident Ferrari picked up a takedown less than a minute into the first period. Bonaccorsi escaped to make it 2-1 after the first period. Ferrari rode Bonaccorsi for most of the second period before the Pitt wrestled escaped to even the score at 2-2. Ferrari retook the lead in the third period with an escape and added a riding time point to win by two.

"I thank God for allowing me to show my gifts, allow me to do it in this manner and have this platform to show it off," said Ferrari.

Oklahoma State head coach John Smith had high praise for his freshman standout.

"He's a young guy who has a lot of spirit about himself and he just won an NCAA championship," said Smith, who guided the Cowboys to a third-place finish in St. Louis. "He talks a big game and he shows a big game."

UNC's Austin O'Connor won the NCAA title at 149 pounds (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)

Austin O'Connor became North Carolina's first NCAA champion since 1995. The Illinois native edged top-seeded Sammy Sasso of Ohio State 3-2 in the finals at 149 pounds. After a 0-0 opening period, Sasso rode O'Connor for over a minute to start the second period before the UNC wrestler escaped to make it 1-0. The score remained that way until early in the second period when Sasso scored an early escape while preserving his riding time. With 40 seconds left, O'Connor scored a takedown using a merkle to go up 3-1 before eliminating O'Connor's riding time point. Sasso nearly scored a takedown as time expired, but O'Connor fought it up … and the call was upheld after an unsuccessful challenge from Ohio State.

"I've been waiting on this moment for a long time. It got canceled last year, so it had me waiting even longer," said O'Connor. "This was just the next step in my journey."

O'Connor praised his coaches after winning the title.

"Our coaching staff is amazing," said O'Connor. "That's a huge reason why I went there. I knew they were changing the program around, ever since they started recruiting me."

Gable Steveson gets in on a shot against Michigan's Mason Parris (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)

Minnesota's Gable Steveson capped off an undefeated season with an 8-4 win over Michigan's Mason Parris at 285 pounds. Steveson scored a takedown in the first period and took a 3-1 lead into the third. He would add two more takedowns and a stalling point in the third period. The Gopher big man becomes the first Minnesota wrestler to win a national title since Tony Nelson won back-to-back titles in 2012-13.

"It had been a very long time coming for me," said Steveson. "A lot of doubters. A lot of people who changed on me. I'm so happy to be here."

Steveson, a three-time age-group world champion in freestyle, will now shift his focus to freestyle as he attempts to make the U.S. Olympic freestyle team in two weeks.

"I expect hard matches with all the guys," said Steveson, who is among the favorites at 125 kilograms. "There's going to be great opponents in Texas at the Olympic Trials.

"I'm just happy to compete in this time. I'm grateful for all the opportunities that I get."

Iowa won its 24th NCAA team title (Photo/Mark Lundy, Lutte-Lens.com)

Final Team Standings (Top 10)

1. Iowa 129
2. Penn State 113.5
3. Oklahoma State 99.5
4. Arizona State 74
5. Michigan 69
6. NC State 68
7. Minnesota 64
7. Missouri 64
9. Ohio State 46.5
10. Northwestern 45

2021 NCAA Division I individual wrestling champions (Photo/Mark Lundy, Lutte-Lens.com)

Medal Match Results

125:
1st No. 1 Spencer Lee (Iowa) dec. No. 3 Brandon Courtney (Arizona State), 7-0
3rd: No. 15 Patrick McKee (Minnesota) dec. No. 4 Drew Hildebrandt (Central Michigan), 5-3
5th: No. 7 Taylor LaMont (Utah Valley) dec. No. 2 Sam Latona (Virginia Tech), 4-1
7th: No. 17 Killian Cardinale (West Virginia) dec. No. 19 Eric Barnett (Wisconsin), 12-7

133:
1st: No. 2 Roman Bravo-Young (Penn State) dec. No. 1 Daton Fix (Oklahoma State), 4-2 SV1
3rd: No. 4 Austin DeSanto (Iowa) dec. No. 3 Korbin Myers (Virginia Tech), 10-6
5th: No. 7 Lucas Byrd (Illinois) pinned No. 9 Michael McGee (Arizona State), 6:17
7th: No. 8 Chris Cannon (Northwestern) maj. dec. No. 10 Louie Hayes (Virginia), 11-3

141:
1st: No. 2 Nick Lee (Penn State) dec. No. 1 Jaydin Eierman (Iowa), 4-2 SV1
3rd: No. 4 Tariq Wilson (NC State) maj. dec. No. 3 Sebastian Rivera (Rutgers), 15-5
5th: No. 14 Dylan Duncan (Illinois) dec. No. 8 Chad Red (Nebraska), 3-0
7th: No. 10 Zachary Sherman (North Carolina) dec. No. 15 Clay Carlson (South Dakota State), 11-4

149:
1st: No. 2 Austin O'Connor (North Carolina) dec. No. 1 Sammy Sasso (Ohio State), 2-1
3rd: No. 25 Yahya Thomas (Northwestern) dec. No. 4 Boo Lewallen (Oklahoma State), 5-3
5th: No. 3 Brock Mauller (Missouri) dec. No. 17 Kyle Parco (Fresno State), 8-5
7th: No. 8 Jaden Abas (Stanford) dec. No. 7 Jonathan Millner (Appalachian State), 5-3

157:
1st: No. 3 David Carr (Iowa State) dec. No. 4 Jesse Dellavecchia (Rider), 4-0
3rd: No. 1 Ryan Deakin (Northwestern) dec. No. 11 Jacori Teemer (Arizona State), 1-0
5th: No. 2 Hayden Hidlay (NC State) maj. dec. No. 6 Brayton Lee (Minnesota), 11-2
7th: No. 5 Kaleb Young (Iowa) dec. No. 33 Wyatt Sheets (Oklahoma State), 3-2

165:
1st: No. 8 Shane Griffith (Stanford) dec. No. 3 Jake Wentzel (Pittsburgh), 7-2
3rd: No. 6 Keegan O`Toole (Missouri) dec. No. 10 Travis Wittlake (Oklahoma State), 4-3
5th: No. 7 Ethan Smith (Ohio State) dec. No. 5 Zach Hartman (Bucknell), 7-5 SV1
7th: No. 11 Cameron Amine (Michigan) by medical forfeit over No. 2 Anthony Valencia (Arizona State)

174:
1st: No. 3 Carter Starocci (Penn State) dec. No. 1 Michael Kemerer (Iowa), 3-1 SV1
3rd: No. 4 Mikey Labriola (Nebraska) dec. No. 12 Bernie Truax (Cal Poly), 8-3
5th: No. 5 Logan Massa (Michigan) by medical forfeit over No. 2 Demetrius Romero (Utah Valley)
7th: No. 8 Daniel Bullard (NC State) by medical forfeit over No. 26 Jackson Turley (Rutgers)

184:
1st: No. 1 Aaron Brooks (Penn State) dec. No. 2 Trent Hidlay (NC State), 3-2
3rd: No. 4 Parker Keckeisen (Northern Iowa) dec. No. 6 John Poznanski (Rutgers), 5-4
5th: No. 11 Dakota Geer (Oklahoma State) dec. No. 7 Brit Wilson (Northern Illinois), 6-0
7th: No. 5 Hunter Bolen (Virginia Tech) dec. No. 3 Lou Deprez (Binghamton), 6-3

197:
1st: No. 4 AJ Ferrari (Oklahoma State) dec. No. 6 Nino Bonaccorsi (Pittsburgh), 4-2
3rd: No. 1 Myles Amine (Michigan) dec. No. 5 Jacob Warner (Iowa), 5-3
5th: No. 7 Rocky Elam (Missouri) dec. No. 26 Jake Woodley (Oklahoma), 9-3
7th: No. 15 Michael Beard (Penn State) dec. No. 8 Stephen Buchanan (Wyoming), 10-8 SV1

285:
1st: No. 1 Gable Steveson (Minnesota) dec. No. 2 Mason Parris (Michigan), 8-4
3rd: No. 5 Tony Cassioppi (Iowa) dec. No. 4 Cohlton Schultz (Arizona State), 5-0
5th: No. 6 Gannon Gremmel (Iowa State) dec. No. 14 Trent Hillger (Wisconsin), 4-0
7th: No. 9 Greg Kerkvliet (Penn State) maj. dec. No. 21 Tate Orndorff (Ohio State), 13-1

Comments

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ban basketball (1) about 3 weeks ago
"STEALS" is the operative word here. I call it RIGGED!
dbestsport (1) about 3 weeks ago
If Iowa doesn't get Eierman as a transfer, Penn State really steals the show. He scored 21.5 points for Iowa.
With six Freshman starters in their line-up, they would have won their 9th title in the past 10 years.
There is no doubt the best college wrestling room is in State College, PA.
jnbroncos (1) about 3 weeks ago
Getting Eierman is kind of the point. No COVID and Iowa is 2 time NCAA Champion. Let's be honest, the best recruiting is at Penn State. You put that line-up at Rider and they are winning next year. When Penn State can't get a top recruit in a weight class or keep one (125 for example) it's not like they are turning average wrestlers into superstars. They are then just like every other D1 school. Name one recruit that you've been shocked has performed well at State College? All about recruiting which they are best at not the room.
dbestsport (1) about 3 weeks ago
Not sure your point. You put Iowa's lineup at Rider and they are contenders next year as well.
Recruiting is only part of the equation. Marinelli and Eierman are top recruits. In 3 and 4 tries, they've never made the finals.
I don't assume Iowa would have won last year, but if they did , Penn State's injuries helped them. If they had a healthy Cassar, Berge, and Rasheed last year, it could have been 5 in a row.
And the Covid protocols have been a lot tougher on Penn State than Iowa.
Iowa is getting 5 years out of Spencer, DeSanto, Young, Marinelli and Kemerer. Penn State didn't even get 4 years out of Hall or Joseph.
Oricalde21 (1) about 2 weeks ago
Not sure what the point of any of your comments are, but You have that analyzing abilities of a petulant 10 year old. All you do is make excuses, saying If, could, and would.
dbestsport (2) about 2 weeks ago
And all you do is call names.
You are America in the year 2021.
Ignorant, misinformed, opinionated, and offended by facts.
Go back into your hole.
Oricalde21 (1) about 2 weeks ago
You’re delusional, that’s why you try to retell the past with different outcomes. What facts did you present? None.

It’s absolutely insane that you make those claims when they describe YOUR own comments. You don’t know anything. As I said, that’s why you use “if, would, should, could” like every bandwagon fan. Keep living in the past. Once again, YOU have the analyzing abilities of a petulant 10 year old.
dbestsport (1) about 2 weeks ago
If Iowa doesn't get 21.5 points from Jaydin Eierman, they end up with 107.5 points.
Now based on your comments you are clearly not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but 113.5 points is greater than 107.5 points.
And you may not know this, but in the NCAA wrestling tournament, the team with the most points wins.
Those are facts.
Oricalde21 (1) about 2 weeks ago
How dense are you? Transfers are part of college. In that case whine about Penn state’s performance in the backside where they only placed two in the 7th place podium, the other five guys scored 25 points. It’s a TEAM race not a “who can win the most finals race”
Or why don’t you bring up the fact that Teske transferred out of penn state and qualified for NIU? By your logic full of excuses, he should have been there and would have done better wrestling for the lions, or bring up that other 125 lbs they lost that won a title at Rutgers, Suriano. Lots of ifs can be said but at the end of the day, excuses are for wusses like you.

Your biased opinions are a joke. Read the Des Moines register, that’s how fans treat the sport, not being biased and detracting from the winning team.

www.desmoinesregister.com/story/sports/college/iowa/wrestling/2021/03/24/wrestling-mailbag-recapping-ncaa-wrestling-championships-spencer-lee-david-carr-austin-desanto-iowa/4804747001/
dbestsport (1) about 2 weeks ago
What is your point? Oh I forgot, you don't have one.
My comments were factual, so at least now we have established that.
I went on to say that the best room in college wrestling is in State College.
Getting 3X All American transfers is not a reflection of your room.
But your comments about the loss of some talented wrestlers, such as Suriano and the ability to still produce Champions at a unprecedented rate only reinforces my original point.
The only excuses are coming from a 'Wuss' like you.
dbestsport (1) about 2 weeks ago
I read your article, here are some more facts from the article:
Since Cael Sanderson got to Penn State in 2010, Nittany Lion wrestlers are 27-14 in the NCAA finals, including a staggering 16-3 since 2017. In that same span, Iowa wrestlers are 10-12 in the NCAA finals, and 4-2 since 2017. Also since 2010, Penn State wrestlers are 41-6 in the NCAA semifinals, while Iowa wrestlers are 22-14.
Sanderson is whipping the competition when it comes to ensuring his guys not only get to those big matches, but routinely win those big matches.
'Nuff Said
dbestsport (1) about 2 weeks ago
And in regards to your comment "that's how fans treat the sport, not being biased and detracting from the winning team". the headline of the article was
"PENN STATE STEALS SHOW IN NCAA FINALS".
Stop your crying Pete's sake.
pancakefor5 (3) about 3 weeks ago
As challenging as this sport is, in terms of preparation, competition, sacrifice, travel, and the sheer grueling nature of it all combined, add in college studies, and for the past year throw on Covid protocol. Nothing short of admiration for these 330 guys and the many others in their rooms that helped them get to St. Louis. Thanks coaches and wrestlers for 2020-21
timx (2) about 3 weeks ago
The most impressive moment was a 270 pound heavyweight doing an easy back flip in layout position after wrestling for 7 minutes. Unbelievable.
ban basketball (1) about 3 weeks ago
I disagree. Metcalf's tackle of Carr was FAR more impressive.

I can do without Goblee and Ferrari's trying to make college rasslin into WWE events.
1pattonr (1) about 3 weeks ago
PSU obviously has a great wrestling room combined with great recruits. Look at Nick Lee and Starocci's matches. Those guys both got beat at the Big Tens and came back to win at Nationals. That's likely due to coaching, watching tape, and then great wrestlers learning from loses and executing when it matters like in sudden victory. It's nonsense to say coaching isn't a part of that. Penn State does something like that almost every year. Look at Vincenzo Joseph's 2 National titles, esp his first one. No one thought he'd do better than about 4th then he goes out and pins Martinez in the finals. As for things being rigged in their favor, you're not operating in reality or didn't watch RBY's match. One point for stalling sure, but 2??? If he's getting hit for that about half the guys with leads in the 3rd period every year in the finals should get hit. Look at the very next match. Nick Lee took about 5 shots to Eirman's one counter shot late in that 3rd period, yet no stalling calls... hmmm. So who's it really rigged for??
mzendar (1) about 3 weeks ago
Coaching was a bigger part then people think. 5 Iowa wrestlers didn't wrestle up to their seeding and 5 PSU wrestlers did wrestle above their seedings. Cael team always find a way to win and excels in the finals. Iowa thinks they should win.
psulou64 (2) about 3 weeks ago
I don't want to take anything away from Iowa. They deserve to be congratulated for their win. That being said, there is no doubt that the better coaching is coming from PSU. I am a homer so I am very biased but the PSU guys were better prepared and 8 out 9 met or exceeded their seed.

On top of that they have better attitudes and pull less of that "bullying" stuff that Iowa wrestlers do. When they lose they don't have outbursts either. The only Iowa guy who I like is Lee. I think he's a class act but he wrestled that way in high school and I don't credit Brands for helping him at all.
seeyajohn2 (3) about 3 weeks ago
I am a Penn State alum and fan. I think it is possible to credit both Iowa and PSU with outstanding accomplishments this year. Iowa had super wrestlers at every weight class this season. They earned and deserved their team championship. PSU had an inspired final day at the tournament.
Oricalde21 (1) about 2 weeks ago
The only Penn State fan in here with a brain.