No. 1 Penn State wrestling defeats 23-14 No. 2 Iowa in BJC dual

Story posted January 28, 2023 in CommRadio, Sports by Alex Rocco

All eyes were on the Bryce Jordan Center as No. 1 Penn State squared off with No. 2 Iowa in one of the most anticipated battles of the year.

The Nittany Lions took down the Hawkeyes 23-14, improving its record to 11-0 on the campaign.

Penn State coach Cael Sanderson is 61-1 in Big Ten matches. The only loss was to Iowa in 2020. Iowa coach Tom Brands is 35-1 in the Big Ten since 2018. The only loss was to Penn State a year ago.

Friday’s match was the fourth time the two programs have played while being ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the country, with the top-ranked team winning every time.

That trend continued, and the blue and white victory marked Sanderson's 100th Big Ten dual meet win.

The meet opened with the Nittany Lions electing to wrestle Marco Vespa instead of Gary Steen at 125. Vespa matched up against No. 1 Spencer Lee and instantly took him down, firing up the home crowd.

However, Lee bounced back, earning the tech fall in the first period due to back points and his 50th straight match. Although the Nittany Lions lost, not surrendering six points was a consolation prize.

At 133, Penn State’s No. 1 Roman Bravo-Young faced off against his former roommate in No. 17 Brody Teske.

Bravo-Young was leading 7-2 late in the third period before he pinned Teske with under 15 seconds left, electrifying the Bryce Jordan Center. RBY maintained his perfect record, while Teske dropped his first match of the season.

The 141 saw the second straight battle between undefeated wrestlers as Penn State’s No. 4 Beau Bartlett and Iowa’s No. 2 Real Woods.

Woods had a takedown in the first period as he led 2-0 after one. Woods continued his success throughout the rest of the bout, winning 4-1, giving Bartlett his first loss this campaign as the Hawkeyes took an 8-6 advantage.

After Woods’s victory, Iowa’s No. 7 Max Murin took on Penn State’s No. 13 Shayne Van Ness. Murin tallied significant riding time over Van Ness, which carried him to a 4-1 victory and extended the Hawkeye lead to 11-6.

With the blue and white’s backs against the wall, Sanderson was forced to make a decision about No. 9 Levi Haines.

Sanderson decided to burn the freshman’s redshirt as he squared off against No. 15 Cobe Siebrecht.

Haines proved his coach right, and it paid off in a major way. The two wrestlers were deadlocked at one midway through the third period.

Haines was awarded a takedown and took a 3-1 lead that he took to the end, cutting the deficit to just 11-9.

At 165, it was two of the nation's future stars duking out in Penn State’s No. 5 freshman Alex Facundo and Iowa’s No. 13 Patrick Kennedy.

Facundo and Kennedy played it slow for most of the match, as they needed more than a sudden victory to find a winner.

The two 30-second periods saw Kennedy go on the aggressive, escaping Facundo in just four seconds. Facundo needed a takedown, but he was unsuccessful as Kennedy pulled off a colossal upset, increasing the lead 14-9.

Iowa’s No. 16 Nelson Brands had the difficult task of going up against No. 1 Carter Starocci, who hadn’t been taken down this season.

Starocci wasn’t his usual self, failing to record a takedown, but he came away with a 2-1 victory with a riding time point. Iowa still led 14-12, but the momentum was quickly shifting.

184 pounds saw defending national champion and No. 1 Aaron Brooks battle against unranked Drake Rhodes. Rhoades is listed as a 157/165 pounder but was playing over No. 12 Abe Assad.

Brooks dominated from the jump, as he led 10-2 after the first period. He continued to apply pressure earning the tech fall in the third period.

After Brooks' victory, the blue and white took a 17-14 lead with two bouts left.

Penn State’s No. 4 Max Dean and Iowa’s No. 7 Jacob Warner have faced off several times against each other, with Dean winning the last two matchups.

After a scoreless first period, Dean began the second on the bottom and earned the escape taking a 1-0 lead into the third period.

He dominated Warner and helped clinch the dual with a 2-0 victory that brought the blue and white advantage to 20-14.

At heavyweight, the Nittany Lions No. 2 Greg Kerkvliet went against Iowa’s undefeated No. 3 Tony Cassioppi, who needed a pin for Iowa to be victorious.

Kerkvliet picked up an early first period takedown giving him a 2-1 lead entering the second period. Kerkvliet rode Cassioppi for the entire period and went into the third with a 3-1 advantage. Kerkvliet secured his riding time point and picked up a much-needed win over Cassioppi.

Alex Rocco is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email