If Penn State wrestling fans weren’t convinced of 174-pounder Carter Starocci’s potential, they certainly should be after Sunday’s dual meet against Michigan.
The redshirt freshman pulled off not only Penn State’s biggest upset win so far this season after beating Michigan’s Logan Massa, but maybe even one of the bigger upsets so far in college wrestling this season.
Time seems to go very slow in this weird world we’re living in today. Christmas was less than two months ago, but it sure feels like a lot longer than that. You could say the same for when Starocci was knocked off by Indiana’s D.J. Washington in the season opener in mid-January. That seems to be way behind him now.
That loss to Washington was the first time Starocci had lost a match since the state championship his sophomore year of high school four years ago. He was 50-0 his junior year and 46-0 his senior year, with both seasons culminating with state titles.
In his redshirt season last year, he went 18-0 while wrestling unattached, including a Southern Scuffle tournament win.
Starocci took over the 174-pound weight class from Mark Hall, and the comparisons between Starocci and Hall were very obvious after Starocci’s upset. Very similarly, Hall lost in his debut, but we all know how much of a success he made out of his career at Penn State – only three Big Ten championships and a national title.
Fans have to love Starocci’s attitude towards the upset when speaking with the media on Tuesday. He was asked what his approach is when he is wrestling against an opponent with a higher rank.
“I don’t feel like any of these guys are higher-ranked than me,” said Starocci. “I’m No. 1, and that’s what it is with me and all of our team. That’s all that matters. We don’t focus on anything else.”
Just exactly what you want in a wrestler. My opinion, or any other wrestling writer’s opinion, doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. It just matters that Starocci thinks he could beat an opponent like Massa, and he did.
Who wouldn’t want to see that rematch here in a couple weeks at the Big Ten Tournament?
No matter what happens this year, Starocci looks like a future fan favorite if he hasn’t already reached that status.
It seems like forever that the Nittany Lions have had a reliable wrestler at 125. It’s only one match, but there seems to be some hope that Robert Howard could be that guy in the future.
The two-time New Jersey state champion debuted by beating the Wolverines’ Jack Medley, 6-5, on Sunday. Howard was not available for the first three dual meets this year.
There seems to be some competition for 125 now for the future. Not only does Howard have local product Baylor Shunk pushing him, but Reynolds High School recruit Gary Steen will be coming next year and figures to be a 125-pounder in college.
That 125-pound weight class, along with heavyweight, have become the two most intriguing weights for the Nittany Lions for the foreseeable future.
National telecasts upcoming
Penn State travels to Ohio State on Friday night for a 7 p.m.dual meet before the Nittany Lions finally get their first, and probably last, home dual meet on Monday evening against Maryland at 6 p.m.
Both dual meets will be on national television on the Big Ten Network. The Maryland dual was originally scheduled for Sunday, but was pushed back a day to fit the meet on BTN.