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MSU wrestling shut out by reigning national champions Penn State 35-0

January 21, 2024
MSU Junior wrestler Tristan Lujan goes against the freshman Penn State wrestler Braedan Davis at The MSU Jenison Field House on Jan. 21, 2024.
MSU Junior wrestler Tristan Lujan goes against the freshman Penn State wrestler Braedan Davis at The MSU Jenison Field House on Jan. 21, 2024.

The Michigan State wrestling team fell to reigning national champions and No. 1 ranked team in the nation, Penn State, this Sunday in a meet that was dominated from start to finish by the Nittany Lions as they cruised to a 35-0 victory.

The Spartans battled resiliently but the Penn State lineup that featured nine top 15-ranked wrestlers proved to be too much for them.

The first action of the meet took place in the 125-pound weigh-in with Michigan State's No. 41 redshirt junior Tristan Lujan (13-8) against Penn State's No. 14 freshman Braedan Davis (10-0). Davis got to work immediately and secured a takedown in the first 10 seconds, but wasn’t able to tack on any points after as Lujan defended strongly. The second period saw little action besides an escape from Lujan that brought the score to 2-3 heading into the third. In the third and final period, Davis looked reinvigorated and scored a takedown and escape in the first 45 seconds to grab a 7-3 victory.

In the 133-pound weigh-in, No. 183 redshirt sophomore Andy Hampton (4-14) of Michigan State faced off against No. 4 redshirt sophomore Aaron Nagao (7-2) of Penn State. Nagao followed Davis' act and got a takedown just seconds into the first period and secured Hampton's back. Hampton then went on to dominate the period securing his second, third and fourth takedown by the end of the first period. In the second period Hampton went on the defensive side successfully and prevented Nagao from a fifth takedown until the final 20 seconds. In the final period Nagao secured a reversal to earn an 18-3 technical fall victory as the Nittany Lions took a commanding 8-0 lead.

In the 141-pound weigh-in, No. 31 redshirt senior Jordan Hamdan (15-4) took the mat for the Spartans and hoped to secure another victory against a top ranked opponent this weekend as he faced Penn State's No. 3 senior Beau Bartlett (11-0). The first period was relatively tame until the final 30 seconds when Bartlett grabbed Hamdan's leg and looked to secure three points for the takedown, but Hamdan survived the attempt due to his remarkable defense. The second period saw Hamdan take the lead following a clever escape as they headed into the third. Bartlett himself earned an escape just moments into the third, fluidly following the move up with two takedowns to take a sudden 7-2 lead and the decision victory.

After the meet, head coach Roger Chandler praised the attacking approach Hamdan had in the match and how he was able to secure points through his various moves.

"I'll take a guy who's attacking every day, going for a win late," Chandler said. "Yeah he got caught late … but I think he showed himself he's right there with one of the best."

In the 149-pound weigh-in, Michigan State's No. 149 redshirt freshman Braden Stauffenberg (5-11) took the mat and faced No. 42 junior David Evans (7-2). Evans secured yet another early Penn State takedown as he established a 3-1 lead after the first. The second period was full of Stauffenberg and his impressive defensive skills, as he only allowed Evans an escape point while he took a 4-1 lead into the third period. In the final period, Stauffenberg continued to defend valiantly as his escape point would be the only point scored in the third period, eventually earning a 4-2 decision victory.

The 157-pound weigh-in saw the Spartan’s No. 21 senior Chase Saldate (16-3) against No. 3 sophomore Levi Haines (8-0) in a top ranked matchup in the nation for the division. Two minutes into the first period, Saldate secured a takedown that was promptly met by roars from the Jenison crowd. Haines tagged on an escape point to end the period as Saldate took a 3-1 lead into the second. During the second period, Haines searched for a takedown but only was able to secure an escape as the two athletes headed into the third. 

Just second into the third and final period, Saldate cleverly escaped before coming inches away from his second takedown of the bout. However, Haines cleverly reversed the attack to secure a takedown of his own and take a sudden 5-4 lead with a minute left. Then, Saldate secured an early escape that saw the pair head into sudden death. The two headed all the way into a fourth sudden death period where Saldate initially believed he earned the victory following an escape point that was immediately challenged by Penn State’s bench and overturned. It wasn't until the final seconds of the eighth period where Haines won it following a reversal.

Chandler also had praise for Saldate who took current No. 1 in the division Haines to sudden death highlighting Saldate's All-American potential.

"(Chase) is one of the best guys in the country," Chandler said. "He's been waiting for that match for a long time, and I know he's looking at it thinking, 'I can take advantage of this and be top of the podium.'"

In the 165-pound weigh-in, the Spartan’s No. 11 senior Caleb Fish (18-4) faced off against No. 9 redshirt freshman Mitchell Mesenbrink (12-0). During the first period, Mesenbrink took down Fish early before Fish quickly secured a near-fall and reversal to burst into a 6-3 lead. Mesenbrink bounced back quickly and secured an escape and takedown before the end of the period to take a 7-6 lead going into the second. With just seconds left in the middle period, Mesenbrink secured another takedown as he took a comfortable 11-6 lead into the third. In the third and final period, Mesenbrink comfortably saw out the victory following a takedown to secure an 18-8 victory.

In the 174-pound weigh-in, No. 79 redshirt senior DJ Shannon (9-10) stepped onto the mat for the Spartans to face No. 16 Terrell Barraclough (6-2). During the first period, the two felt each other out as both looked for an opening. During the second period, Barraclough secured a point following an escape before he secured a takedown on Shannon with just under 30 seconds in the second. The final period saw Barraclough secure a second takedown as he cruised to a 7-1 decision victory.

No. 19 graduate student Layne Malczewski (6-4) followed next for the Spartans facing off against No. 6 graduate student Bernie Truax (6-1) in the 184-pound weigh-in division. During the first period, Truax secured a takedown in the final minute before Malczewski instantly bursted away to get an escape point of his own. The second period only saw Malczewski earn an escape point, while Truax earned one of his own in the third to see out a 4-2 division victory.

In the 197-pound weigh-in, Michigan State's No. 46 redshirt freshman Kael Wisler (20-9) faced off against Penn State’s No. 1 senior Aaron Brooks (7-0). Brooks got to work early and secured two takedowns in the first minute of the period. Brooks went on to grab his third, fourth and fifth in the second minute of the round before taking on one more at the end of the round as he took complete control of the bout. In the second period, Brooks secured a seventh takedown to win the bout by technical fall.

The final meet of the night saw No. 37 redshirt freshman Josh Terrill (23-8) for Michigan State face off against Penn State's No. 38 sophomore Lucas Cochran (2-2). It took until the final minute of the first period for the first points to be scored as Cochran secured a takedown following a trip. Following a scoreless second period, Cochran tagged on a point for an escape to see out a 4-0 decision.

The Spartans will be back at Jenison Fieldhouse on Friday, Jan. 26 for more Big Ten action when they will host Wisconsin. Streaming will be available on Big Ten Plus with action set to start at 7 p.m.

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