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No. 2 Penn State dominates Sacred Heart on the big stage

Penn State’s Carter Starocci (174) works to turn Sacred Heart’s Alex Marciniak to his back in Saturday night’s match in Manheim, Pa. Starocci won by a pin. (Photo courtesy Penn State Sports Information)

The Sacred Heart University wrestling team was on the big stage – literally — on Saturday at Spooky Neck Sports Complex.

It was an elevated stage where the Pioneers took on No. 2 Penn State before a sellout crowd of more than 1,200 fans in Manheim, Pa.

The Nittany Lions put out a lineup on the mat that included four defending NCAA national champions — Roman Bravo-Young (133), Nick Lee (141), Carter Starocci (174), Aaron Brooks (184) – along with two other wrestlers ranked in the top five of their respective weight classes.

Penn State showed their experience with four pins, three near fall victories and two major decisions in a 47-3 win over Sacred Heart. It was the first match against a top 25 team for the Pioneers since 2018 when Sacred Heart fell to No. 19 Oklahoma.

“It’s crazy how good they are,” Sacred Heart coach John Clark said. “I think (this Penn State) team will go down as the best college wrestling team ever. I really do. They have four defending champions (returning) and another finalist.”

Penn State dominated No. 24 Oregon State, 33-7, in a bout following the Pioneers’ match for their second win of the season.

“It was great,” Clark said. “It was a tremendous atmosphere. It reminded me of a famous band that only a select few people could listen to.” Afterward, the Penn State wrestlers were signing autographs for the fans.

Against the Nittany Lions, the Pioneers (1-1) had a few moments that made them smile.

At 157 pounds, Sacred Heart’s Nick Palumbo picked up the only individual victory for the Pioneers with his 8-3 win over senior Joey Blumer in his first dual meet for Penn State.

The duo battled evenly for nearly two minutes before Palumbo forced a scramble with a double leg.  Blumer worked Palumbo into danger, nearly picking up back points, but Palumbo countered and picked up the takedown to open up a 2-0 lead.  Blumer escaped and trailed 2-1 after the first period.

Blumer chose down to start the second period but could not work his way free of Palumbo’s ride and trailed 2-1 after two periods.

Palumbo chose down to start the third period and Blumer went to work on top.  He controlled the action and nearly turned Palumbo for back points. But Palumbo was able to roll out of the hold, got the escape, and then took Blumer down for a 5-1 lead with 1:19. Palumbo finished with one more takedown finished with an 8-3 victory.

Anthony Petrillo (133) got the first takedown of the match in his match with defending national champion Roman Bravo-Young, who proceeded to get the next five takedowns of the match to take control and eventually win by pin.

Sacred Heart’s Scott Jarosz (165) wrestled tough for two periods before Penn State junior Creighton Edsell was able to pull away in the third period of an 11-3 victory. Edsell took a 2-0 lead with a takedown with 2:20 remaining in the first period, building up 1:07 of riding time before he let Jarosz escape.

Edsell chose down to start the second period and Jarosz was able to keep control of the Lion for nearly two minutes. But Edsell worked his way to a reversal in the final seconds to take a 4-1 lead into the third period.

Jarosz chose down to start the third period and Edsell was able to expose Jarosz’ back twice to build an 8-2 lead.

“I think it was something they will always remember,” Clark said referring to the atmosphere in the building. “I think they will also realize that they can compete. Sometimes as an athlete you hear about these wrestlers over and over and it can be a little intimidating. But you get on the mat and see that you can hang with them. And you see what the standard is.”

Sacred Heart’s Kyle Randall (125), Joe Accousti (184) and Dante Delbonis (197) lost by technical fall with Accousti falling to No. 1 ranked Aaron Brooks and Delbonie falling to No. 4 Max Dean, making his debut with the Nittany Lions after transferring from Cornell.

Shaun Williams (149) and Jarosz dropped decisions while Petrillo (133), Jordan Carlucci (142), Alex Marciniak (174) and Mark Blokh (285) lost by pin.

On Sunday, Sacred Heart will compete in the Journeyman Collegiate Classic at the Spooky Nook Sports Complex but it should be other wrestlers from the Pioneer program on the mat. The 10 starters from the Penn State bout are expected to have the day off.

Sacred Heart’s next dual meet is on Saturday, Dec. 18 at 1 p.m. when the Pioneers have their first home meet of the season against Binghamton University.

(2) Penn State 47, Sacred Heart 3
At Manheim, Pa.
125: Baylor Shunk (PS) tech fall Kyle Randall, 18-0, 4:15; 133: (1) Roman Bravo-Young (PS) pin Anthony Petrillo, 3:40; 142: (2) Nick Lee (PS) pin Jordan Carlucci, 0:54; 149: Beau Bartlett (PS) dec. Shaun Williams, 12-3; 157: Nick Palumbo (SH) dec. Joey Blumer, 8-3; 165: Creighton Edsell (PS) dec. Scott Jarosz, 11-3; 174: (1) Carter Starocci (PS) pin Alex Marciniak, 2:12; 184: (1) Aaron Brooks (PS) tech fall Joe Accousti, 23-8, 7:00; 197: (4) Max Dean (PS) tech fall Dante DelBonis, 18-0, 3:00; 285: (5) Greg Kervliet (PS) pin Mark Blokh, 3:57
Records: Penn State 1-0, Sacred Heart 1-1

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of Connecticut Wrestling Online. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 40 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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