“Can’t wait to see RBY at 141,” fifth-year senior Nick Lee said in an Instagram post.
The image shows Lee, Penn State wrestling alumnus Luke Gardner, and Roman Bravo-Young sitting on a couch posing for a picture.
Bravo-Young, also known by his initials RBY, just won a national championship in the 133-pound weight class. And although there hasn’t been an official announcement about Bravo-Young moving weight classes, Lee’s caption is a strong indicator that a change is on the horizon.
Another unusual aspect of the post is Lee himself wrestled at 141 last season, capturing a national title of his own.
With two of Penn State’s best likely shifting classes, what are their outlooks and what holes are created?
Lee likely to move to 149
Fortunately for Lee, there are open spots in the weight class above and below him should Bravo-Young move to the 141 spot.
Former Penn State veteran and 149-pound wrestler Jarod Verkleeren transferred to Virginia in the offseason, leaving a hole in the weight class directly above Lee.
Either way, Lee has the experience to succeed in either of those classes. He has 100 career wins under his belt as well as a national championship.
However, the 149-pound weight class is probably his best bet, and he could immediately make noise in the division. The 149-pound defending champion, Austin O’Connor out of North Carolina, is vacating the class and moving up to 157 for next season, potentially making Lee an early favorite for the title.
There isn’t a move set in stone yet, but with the former 149-pound champion moving, it seems that would be the more likely choice.
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The State College Spikes have hit a few bumps in the road early on this season.
Bravo-Young has competition at 141
The 133-pound champ has some serious competition at 141 if he indeed does move up a weight class.
The biggest concern for Bravo-Young is Jaydin Eierman from Iowa. Eierman is the defending runner-up to Lee and is returning for his seventh season of collegiate wrestling after a series of redshirts.
There’s also some good news for Bravo-Young, as it is speculated that Sebastian Rivera, last season’s fourth-place finisher, is moving back down to the 133-pound weight class next season. Rivera’s potential departure from 141 gets rid of a national contender as well as a conference foe.
With that being said, RBY is one of the most talented wrestlers in the NCAA. He can go toe-to-toe with anyone, so he doesn’t necessarily need other wrestlers to leave the weight class to succeed.
His 59-9 career record is impressive considering seven of those losses were from his freshman year. He hasn’t lost in over a year and recorded a perfect 14-0 record in a shortened 2020-21 season.
Who fills in at 133?
Bravo-Young potentially moving up leaves a major hole at the 133-pound weight class. There’s little to no experience behind him.
The wrestler with the most mat experience is Brandon Meredith, a sophomore out of Limerick, Pennsylvania. He currently holds a 17-18 career record, with most of those bouts happening at the 125-pound class, losing his lone match at 133 last season.
Marco Vespa is the wrestler with the most experience at 133 on the roster behind RBY, with two matches wrestled in that class. He sits at 1-1 with both matches happening in 2020.
Lee and Bravo-Young moving fills holes left by departures, but it creates new holes that will need to be filled by less-experienced talent currently on the roster.
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