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Penn State wrestler Roman Bravo-Young balances flashiness with respect in his championship style

Penn State Big Ten Wrestling Championship (Bravo-Young)

Penn State’s Roman Bravo-Young wrestles Northwestern’s Chris Cannon in the 133-pound semifinal matchup at the Big Ten Wrestling Championship on Saturday, March 6, 2021 at the Bryce Jordan Center in University Park, Pa. Bravo-Young won by 8-6 decision.

Few things get Rec Hall rocking like a Penn State takedown, but wrestlers like Roman Bravo-Young use their athletic ability to impress the crowd even further, making their highlights must-see action.

Wrestling is recognized as the world’s oldest competitive sport, dating back to 3,000 BC with the sport being part of the ancient Olympics.

However, wrestlers have evolved since the cavemen. They’re more athletic and agile, giving wrestlers like Bravo-Young a chance to showcase their athleticism on a national stage while entertaining the crowd.

Bravo-Young is a prime example of an entertainer as well as one of the country’s top wrestlers with one of his takedowns in 2018 going viral and even capturing the attention of the sports world, including ESPN.

That’s the image the reigning 133-pound national champion has embraced over the course of his career.

“One goal is to be entertaining because at the end of the day that’s what’s fun to me,” Bravo-Young said. “I know a lot of people change their perception after they win, but mine’s staying the same.”

The fans have taken a liking to Bravo-Young and his fast footwork the rest of the team is impressed with, amassing over 140,000 followers on Instagram.

“The reason he has such a huge following is because he’s fun to watch wrestle,” Cael Sanderson said. “I’ve heard people that bring him in for clinics and camps and they say ‘it's just fun to watch this guy, the way he moves he's so fast and smooth.’”

However, with all the praise that Sanderson gave to Bravo-Young, there was a fine line between being flashy for the crowd and respect.

“We’ve had different kids that celebrate and do different things in different ways over the years,” Sanderson said. “Respect is a big core value that I have and that I was taught growing up.”


The moral line between respect and flash hasn’t been crossed yet, but the values of sports still apply. 

Bravo-Young’s exciting style of wrestling is unique, and although it works for him, evident by his 59-9 career record, most wrestlers hope their wrestling gets the crowd excited.

There’s no question that a backflip into a takedown, like the one Bravo-Young performed in the viral video, gives the sport some publicity, but the sight of seeing an opponent on his back on the verge of getting pinned can also get a crowd on its feet in no time.

The fans will be back in Rec Hall for the first time in two years, so the advantage of having the support of the home crowd is back in full swing. Flashiness will be a big part of the upcoming season, but it won't be the main focus.

Domination is the priority of the No. 2 Nittany Lions going into the season.

Winning, more than anything, will get Penn State fans hyped and is the most important thing to the wrestlers, even for the nimble Bravo-Young.

The Nittany Lions’ first chance at dominating their opponents comes on Nov. 13 with a double header against Sacred Heart and Oregon State.

“I believe you have to dominate your opponent because that’s what we do it for,” 174-pound national champion Carter Starocci said. “But this is sports, this is the entertainment business, the fans come to watch a good match and it's something that can add on and raise the sport.”


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