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Penn State Wrestling Continues to Build a Championship Lineup

A former starter returns, and an All-American is poised to debut for the No. 2 Lions.

Penn State has rolled up an 8-0 record through the wrestling season's first two months, even with occasionally short-handed lineups and missing pieces. Now, the No 2 Lions appear to be readying themselves for March, adding two important pieces to their championship run.

Transfer Drew Hildebrandt could make his Penn State debut this weekend, when the Lions wrestle Maryland and Indiana, while two-time NCAA qualifier Brady Berge returns from retirement for one last season.

Hildebrandt and Berge fill two key weight classes for the Lions, who have six wrestlers ranked in the top four at their weight classes, according to InterMat Wrestling. They will help No. 2 Penn State build a lineup ready to challenge top-ranked Iowa for Big Ten and NCAA titles. The two teams meet Jan. 28 in Iowa City.

Here's the latest Penn State wrestling news.

Brady Berge returning to Penn State

Berge, who wrestled at 157 pounds for Penn State last season, announced his retirement in April. Health issues, including concussions, had affected him for two seasons and caused him to withdraw from the NCAA tournament last March after winning his first two matches.

Having accepted a volunteer coaching job at South Dakota State, Berge apparently wasn't satisfied with the way his career ended. So he announced Thursday that he would return to "the one place I can chase this dream."

"Over the past few months, I have felt that hunger to compete again," Berge said in a statement posted on social media, "a desire to finish what I started and one final shot to accomplish a childhood dream.

It's uncertain when Berge could compete for the Lions, though his presence will be important at 157 pounds. The Lions are 0-8 at the weight class this season and have given up 26 team points in dual meets.

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“There’s always a weight class or two where you’re kind of hoping somebody steps up and takes charge, and we’re still kind of hoping,” head coach Cael Sanderson said of 157 this week.

A healthy and motivated Berge could meet that hope.

Waiting on Drew Hildebrandt

Hildebrandt, a two-time All-American at Central Michigan, officially joined Penn State's roster in late December but has not competed yet. That could change this weekend, as he's listed as a potential starter at 125 pounds when the Lions wrestle Maryland and Indiana.

Sanderson hedged on Hildebrandt's debut, saying the team has time until March, though he would like to have Hildebrandt at full strength much sooner.

"We’re trying to get him to where he can compete this weekend, but we’re not quite there yet," Sanderson said this week. "That would be ideal. ... If we can get him competing, we’ll certainly do that. We still have a few hurdles to kind of get through."

Like Berge, Hildebrandt steps into a struggling weight class. Penn State is 2-6 at 125 and has given up 23 team points. In fact, 125 and 157 are responsible for 49 of the 84 dual-meet team points opponents have scored against the Lions.

This weekend's schedule.

Penn State (8-0) vs. Maryland (3-2)

  • When: 7 p.m. EST Friday
  • Where: at Maryland
  • Streaming: BIG+
  • Radio: Lionvision

Penn State (8-0) vs. Indiana (2-0)

  • When: 2 p.m. EST Sunday
  • Where: Rec Hall
  • Streaming: BIG+
  • Radio: Lionvision