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Dominating performance as Penn State wins another national title

With five individual champions and six All-Americans, Penn State dominated as the NCAA Div. I championship meet Saturday night in Detroit. (Photo courtesy Sam Janicki /

The Penn State wrestling team continues to dominate at the NCAA Division I wrestling championships. A year ago, the Nittany Lions had four individual champions and won the championship.

On Saturday, Penn State had six medalists, five wrestlers in the finals and five individual champions as the Nittany Lions won their tenth national championship and the ninth since head coach Cael Sanderson came to Happy Valley in 2009-10.

Only five teams in NCAA history have come home with five individual champions after a single tournament. Penn State won the national championship with 131½ points with Michigan coming in second with 95.

Seniors Roman Bravo-Young (133) and Nick Lee (141) won along with sophomore Carter Starocci (174), junior Aaron Brooks (184) and junior Max Dean (197). Bravo-Young, Lee, Starocci and Brooks and Starocci each won their second NCAA titles.

“Culture is obviously everything. You want a stronger culture. I think these guys care about each other and they compete as individuals,” Sanderson said. “But winning as a team is a lot more fun. You go in as an individual but your team doesn’t do well as well it’s just a different experience.
“We just have a great group of kids and they’re competitors. They step up in these big moments and they did this weekend,” Sanderson said.

Lee won a national title for the second straight year with a 10-3 win over North Carolina’s Kizhan Clarke, the 15th seed that made a big run to the final that included an overtime win over No. 2 Jaydin Eierman of Iowa in the second round and a triple OT win over Pittsburgh’s Cole Matthews in the semifinals.

“There was definitely a few years where we were younger and there had to be some adjustments for younger guys to learn how our culture is, why it’s a winning culture. And I really feel like we’ve gotten to the point where again it’s just a dominant culture,” Lee said.

“I think that just comes from everybody understanding that whether you’re a starter or not at the end of the day we want to be national champions,” he said. “That’s what we achieved here this weekend. I’m really, really proud of this team. We went through some hardships. I am so proud of every guy and love each and every one of them.”

The Nittany Lions went 6-0 in Friday’s quarterfinals and 5-1 in the semifinals. They continued their dominance in Saturday night’s championship matches.

Bravo-Young (22-0) won his second straight title at 133 pounds with another victory over No. 2 Daton Fix of Oklahoma State, who he beat in the finals in overtime a year ago.

Penn State’s Damon Bravo Young drives Oklahoma State’s Dation Fix  onto the mat during the finals of the NCAA Tournament at 133 pounds on Saturday night. (Photo courtesy Sam Janicki /

Tied at 2-2 after two periods, Bravo Young quickly escaped to begin the third period and take a 3-2 lead. Fix initiated a scramble at the 1:20 mark but no one scored. Bravo-Young nearly worked through a high shot seconds later but Fix was able to force a stalemate with 42 on the clock. Bravo-Young worked defense for the remaining seconds and earned the win for his 36th straight dual meet win.

Bravo Young is a four-time All-American and two-time national champion.

Lee (22-0) won his second straight NCAA title at 141 and leaves Penn State as a five-time All-American.

Starocci (23-0) had to go to overtime to outlast No. 2 seed Mekhi Lewis of Virginia Tech in the finals at 174, winning on riding time in the second OT period.

After a scoreless first period, Starocci chose down to start the second period and quickly escaped to a 1-0 lead. Lewis used a quick shot to take Starocci down and take a 2-1 lead with 1:38 on the clock. Starocci worked his way to an escape and a 2-2 tie at 1:05.

Lewis chose down to start the third period and quickly escaped to a 3-2 lead. Starocci bulled in on a high double and worked Lewis down for a takedown and a 4-3 lead at the 1:20 mark. Starocci controlled Lewis until the 0:49 mark when Lewis escaped to a 4-4 tie.

The first two-minute OT period was scoreless. In the second OT, Starocci was down first and escaped in six seconds taking a 5-4 lead. Lewis was down next and Starocci controlled Lewis until the last seconds. Lewis escaped to tie the bout at 5-5 with eight seconds left but not in time as Starocci won on riding time in OT, 6-5.

Brooks (184) took a 4-0 lead thanks to a takedown and a third period reversal on the way to a 5-3 win over top seed Myles Amine of Michigan. Brooks (21-1) avenged an overtime loss to Amine at the recent Big 10 tournament.

Trailing 1-0, Dean (197) chose down to start the third period in his championship bout against No. 6 Jacob Warner of Iowa.

Dean (23-1) escaped quickly and tied the bout at 1-1 with 1:40 remaining. Dean countered a slight Warner shot at the 0:40 mark and took a 3-1 lead with a fast shot, taking Warner down with 32 left in the third period. Warner managed a late escape, but Dean’s late burst was the difference. Dean posted the 3-2 win to earn his first NCAA title.

Penn State’s Carter Starocci and Virginia Tech’s Mekhai Lewis went to overtime in the finals at 174 pounds before Starocci prevailed. (Photo courtesy Sam Janicki /

Cornell junior Yianni Diakomilhalis (149) won his third national title with a dominant 11-5 decision over Nebraska’s Ridge Lovett. He joins Kyle Dake as the only Big Red wrestlers to claim at least three national championships, and he’ll have an opportunity to match Dake’s four crowns next season.

Diakomihalis closed his junior season with a 28-0 record, extending his career mark to 94-1 with a 75-match win streak, just two victories shy of Dake’s 77 to close his career. The three-time EIWA champion and Ivy League Wrestler of the Year put on a takedown clinic against the 10th-seeded Badger, who took Diakomihalis to overtime in the semifinals of the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational earlier this season before falling, 6-4, in sudden victory.

Diakomihalis had five takedowns and was never in danger, rushing out to a 4-1 lead after the first three minutes. His short-time takedown and rideout allowed Diakomihalis to grab the early edge, and he built on it in the second with an escape against the hard-riding Lovett, then notched two more takedowns in the second to build the lead to 9-4. One last takedown left the junior chasing a major decision late, but he settled for celebrating his third national title.

Minnesota’s Gable Steveson ended Saturday’s NCAA championship meet and his collegiate career with a dominating 6-2 win over Arizona State’s Cohlton Schultz in the final at 285 pounds. When the match was over, Steveson left his wrestling shoes at the center of the mat.

Steveson got to his offense early as he hit his infamous snap, go-behind off the whistle for the first points of the match. Following a Schultz escape, Steveson secured another takedown to make it 4-1 after the first period. The two competitors traded escapes in the final two periods, and a Steveson riding time point wrapped up the 6-2 decision win.

It was a second national title for Steveson, who ended his collegiate career with a 52 match win streak. Steveson provided the crowd with his signature celebratory back flip after winning.

“It means a lot, going out there enjoying myself and putting time in and effort in. I took my shoes off, did a back flip. It’s just what I do. I love to do flips. I’ve been doing flips since I was young. I was doing gymnastics class on the grass, on the trampoline. I had to put my shoes back on to go on the podium. But for now I’m done, for now I’m done,” he said.

2022 NCAA Division I wrestling championships
At Detroit
Top 10 scores: 1. Penn State 131½, 2. Michigan 95, 3. Iowa 74, 4. Arizona State 66½, 5. Nebraska 59½, 6. Northwestern 57½, 7. Cornell 54½, 8. Virginia Tech 52½, 9. Missouri 49½, 10. N.C. State 49
Individual results
Final — Nick Suriano (Michigan) dec. Pat Glory (Princeton) 5-3
3. Vito Arujau (Cornell) dec. Michael DeAugustino (Northwestern) 10-2
5. Patrick McKee (Minnesota) dec. Brandon Courtney (Arizona State) 8-3
7. Eric Barnett (Wisconsin) pin Brandon Kaylor (Oregon State) 4:44
Final — Roman Bravo-Young (Penn State) dec. Daton Fix (Oklahoma State) 3-2
3. Austin DeSanto (Iowa) dec. Michael McGee (Arizona State) 7-4
5. Lucas Byrd (Illinois) pin Korbin Myers (Virginia Tech) 6:59
7. Chris Cannon (Northwestern) dec. Devan Turner (Oregon State) 5-4
Final — Nick Lee (Penn State) dec. Kizhan Clarke (North Carolina) 10-3
3. Sebastian Rivera (Rutgers) dec. Grant Willits (Oregon State) 6-5
5. Cole Matthews (Pittsburgh) dec. Real Woods (Stanford) 7-3
7. Jakob Bergeland (Minnesota) dec. CJ Composto (Pennsylvania) 10-0
Final: Yianni Diakomihalis (Cornell) dec. Ridge Lovett (Nebraska) 11-5
3. Bryce Andonian (Virginia Tech) dec. Austin Gomez (Wisconsin) 10-5
5. Sammy Sasso (Ohio State) dec. Jonathan Millner (Appalachian State) 5-4
7. Tariq Wilson (NC State) dec. Kyle Parco (Arizona State) 14-2
Final: Ryan Deakin (Northwestern) dec. Quincy Monday (Princeton) 9-2
3. David Carr (Iowa State) dec. Peyton Robb (Nebraska) 7-2
5. Will Lewan (Michigan) dec. Jacori Teemer (Arizona State) 4-2, 2 OT
7. Hunter Willits (Oregon State) forfeit over Austin O`Connor (North Carolina)
Final: Keegan O`Toole (Missouri) dec. Shane Griffith (Stanford) 6-5
3. Evan Wick (Cal Poly) dec. Cameron Amine (Michigan) 3-2
5. Alex Marinelli (Iowa) win by forfeit over Dean Hamiti (Wisconsin)
7. Carson Kharchla (Ohio State) dec. Peyton Hall (West Virginia) 3-2
Final: Carter Starocci (Penn State) dec. Mekhi Lewis (Virginia Tech)
3. Hayden Hidlay (NC State) dec. Michael Kemerer (Iowa) 12-4
5. Logan Massa (Michigan) dec. Dustin Plott (Oklahoma State) 5-1
7. Mikey Labriola (Nebraska) dec. Clay Lautt (North Carolina) 3-2
Final: Aaron Brooks (Penn State) dec. Myles Amine (Michigan) 5-3
3. Parker Keckeisen (Northern Iowa) dec. Bernie Truax (Cal Poly) 6-4
5. Trent Hidlay (NC State) dec. Kaleb Romero (Ohio State) 3-2
7. Marcus Coleman (Iowa State) dec. Jonathan Loew (Cornell) 8-3
Final: Max Dean (Penn State) dec. Jacob Warner (Iowa) 3-2
3. Stephen Buchanan (Wyoming) dec. Rocky Elam (Missouri) 1-0
5. Yonger Bastida (Iowa State) pin Gavin Hoffman (Ohio State) 2:29
7. Eric Schultz (Nebraska) dec. Greg Bulsak (Rutgers) 3-2
Final: Gable Steveson (Minnesota) dec. Cohlton Schultz (Arizona State) 6-2
3. Jordan Wood (Lehigh) medical forfeit over Greg Kerkvliet (Penn State)
5. Mason Parris (Michigan) dec. Lucas Davison (Northwestern) 8-5
7. Tony Cassioppi (Iowa) dec. Christian Lance (Nebraska) 2-0

Brackets and results (
Results (FloArena)
Brackets (PDF)

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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