After cruising through the competition, Penn State redshirt freshman wrestler Brady Berge will have the opportunity Saturday to earn his spot on the USA’s Junior Freestyle World Team — and he won’t be the only Nittany Lion wrestling.
Berge will take part in the Best-of-Three Finals Matchups at the 2018 Junior Freestyle World Team Trials Challenge in the 70kg weight class in Rochester, Minn. He’ll face North Carolina’s Austin O’Connor at 5 p.m. Saturday and, if he wins, will replace O’Connor as the USA representative.
Future Nittany Lion Aaron Brooks, who committed earlier this year and will join the team in 2019, already earned his 79kg spot. He’ll be trying to hold onto it Saturday against Mikey Labriola, who wrestled his way to the best-of-three finals just like Berge.
Berge opened Friday’s tournament with a superior victory over Harvard’s AJ Jaffe (12-1, 4:33), then eked out a 5-1 win over Minnesota’s Brayton Lee in the semifinals before slipping past Iowa State’s David Carr 7-5 in the challenge finals.
Berge represented the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club, but he wasn’t the only one. Sophomore Nick Lee also took part but fell in the challenge finals, losing to Northern Colorado’s Andrew Alirez (10-0, 0:36). Redshirt freshman Jarod Verkleeren upended Ohio State’s Sammy Sasso (15-4, 5:00) in the third-place match.
Brooks is wrestling under the Titan Mercury Wrestling Club.