Five Penn State wrestlers claim titles at Black Knight Invitational

WEST POINT, N.Y. -- The Penn State Nittany Lion wrestling team (0-0, 0-0 B1G), under the direction of veteran head coach Cael Sanderson, sent 17 wrestlers to the Army Black Knight Invitational in West Point, N.Y., on Sunday. With many of Penn State's All-Americans back in Happy Valley prepping for Tuesday's NWCA All-Star Classic Exhibition, Penn State still crowned five champions at Army West Point. All rankings listed are InterMat.

Twelve of Penn State's 17 wrestlers placed, including the five champions. The Nittany Lions went 47-20 overall at the event with nine pins, nine technical falls and 10 majors.

True freshman Braeden Davis stormed his way to the title at 125, picking up two wins over ranked wrestlers in the process. He opened up the tournament with a tech fall and a major and then downed No. 31 Tristan Lujan of Michigan State 4-2 in the semifinals before taking down No. 30 Ethan Berginc of Army West Point 5-1 in the finals. Davis went 4-0 with a tech and a major to claim the crown. Sophomore Robert Howard placed fourth at 125. Howard went 2-2, picking up two quick wins. He downed teammate Gary Steen 5-2 in sudden victory in the second round before dropping a bout to No. 30 Ethan Berginc of Army West Point in the semifinals before taking a medical forfeit loss in the third-place bout. Sophomore Gary Steen placed at 125 with a 4-1 mark. He picked up a pin, a tech and a major with his only loss a 5-2 sudden victory setback to teammate Howard.

Sophomore Aaron Nagao, ranked No. 3 by InterMat, made his Nittany Lion debut at 133 and dominated the field to claim the Black Knight title. Nago notched two technical falls and a major to advance to the finals where he notched a fast fall (0:52) over No. 33 Braden Basile of Army West Point for the championship. Nagao went 4-0 with a pin, two techs and a major. Senior Baylor Shunk went 2-2 at 133. After a first-round loss, Shunk reeled off a 15-0 technical fall and an 11-1 major over Michigan State's Andrew Hampton before bowing out of the tourney in conso action.

Senior Beau Bartlett, ranked No. 2 nationally, pinned his way to the finals at 141 and battled true freshman Tyler Kasak in the title bout, working his way to a 4-1 win and the crown. Bartlett notched three straight pins at 2:36, 4:48 and 3:57 before notching a late takedown to win against Kasak. Bartlett went 4-0 on the day. Kasak's Penn State debut was outstanding as the true freshman went 3-1 with two majors to get to the finals before dropping the bout to his second-ranked teammate. Junior David Evans went 4-1 at 141 to place fifth. He had a tech fall and a major and his lone loss was a tough 3-2 (tb) setback to teammate Kasak in the second round.

Redshirt freshman Mitchell Mesenbrink, ranked No. 17 nationally, won the title at 165 with a 4-0 record. He notched two quick tech falls and then pinned No. 22 Anthony White of Rutgers in the semifinals, advancing to the title bout against teammate Terrell Barraclough. He posted a tough 8-5 win over Barraclough for the championship. Barraclough, a senior, took second place with a 3-1 mark. He opened up his day with a major and then a tough 11-8 (sv) win over teammate Matt Lee. Barraclough then took No. 9 Caleb Fish of Michigan State to sudden victory before pinning him at 7:20 to get to the finals. Matt Lee, a junior, placed sixth at 165. Lee notched a pin and a major, going 3-2 on the day. He dropped a tough 11-8 (sv) bout to teammate Barraclough before taking a medical forfeit loss in the fifth-place bout.

True freshman Josh Barr rolled to the championship at 184. He went 4-0 overall, opening the day with a tech fall. After a decision in the second round, Ball posted a strong 2-1 win over No. 13 Jacob Nolan of Binghamton in the semifinals to advance to the title bout. He used a five-point move (takedown, two nearfall) to post a 6-1 (sv) win over Buffalo's Chase Kranitz. Sophomore Jack Kelly went 0-2 at 184.

Sophomore Brian Borden took sixth place at 174. Borden went 3-2 on the day, including a major decision in the first round. Junior Aurelius Dunbar went 1-2 at 174, picking up a 7-4 consolation win over Binghamton's William Ebert.

Redshirt freshman Connor Pierce went 1-2 at 149. He opened up his tourney with a fall and then dropped a hard fought 5-3 decision to No. 23 Jacob Butler of Rutgers before bowing out of the tournament in conso action. Graduate Imran Heard went 1-2 at 149 as well, picking up a 4-2 first round win over William McMullen of LIU before dropping two conso bouts.

With six All-Americans back in Happy Valley, the Nittany Lions did not have wrestlers compete at 157, 197 or 285.

Penn State is 0-0 in dual meets overall, 0-0 B1G. Five Nittany Lions will take part in the NWCA All-Star Classic Exhibition on Tuesday, Nov. 21, in Rec Hall. The event is not a collegiate event, does not count on wrestlers' records or RPI and is not part of Penn State's season ticket package. The all-star meet begins at 7 p.m. and Penn Staters Shayne Van Ness (149), Carter Starocci (174), Bernie Truax (184), Aaron Brooks (197) and Greg Kerkvliet (285) are set to compete. The Nittany Lion regular season continues on Sunday, Dec. 3, when Penn State hosts Lehigh for its dual meet opener. The Nittany Lions and Mountain Hawks tangle in Rec Hall at 2 p.m. in a Big Ten Network national telecast.