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Lions add former national runner-up Max Dean from Cornell as transfer

Photo Cornell Athletics: Max Dean

The Penn State wrestling team has picked up a big-time transfer as Cornell’s Max Dean, NCAA runner-up at 184 pounds two years ago, has joined the Nittany Lions.

That news was confirmed earlier today by Dean’s brother, Gabe, during an appearance on Chael Sonnen’s YouTube video series, “Beyond the Fight.” Gabe Dean won the US national title at 86 kg in 2020.

You can watch the entire interview with Gabe Dean below, and he starts talking about his brother at the 2:00 mark. Gabe confirms Max’s move to Penn State at the 3:10 mark.


“So he’s at Penn State now, and he’s gonna be training and wrestling there,” Gabe Dean said.

Penn State already has reigning national champion Aaron Brooks at 184 pounds, which is what Max Dean wrestled at with Cornell. But his brother said Max will be moving up in weight class.

“I guess Aaron (Brooks) entertained the idea of maybe potentially going up,” Gabe Dean said before adding, “but I think (Max is) looking to fill that (197) point.”

Max Dean will have two years of eligibility at Penn State. Here is a look at his career, from his Cornell bio page:

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As a Junior (2020-21)

• Season canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a Sophomore (2018-19)

• Was national runner-up at 184 pounds, becoming an All-American for the second straight season along the way.
• Fell to Northern Iowa’s Drew Foster 6-4 in the finals.
• Completed his season with a 25-6 record.
• Was 16-2 in 2019, with his only loss coming to then-No. 1 Myles Martin of Ohio State and Foster in the championship match.
• Dean used a takedown with 10 seconds to wrestle and a mat return to knock off top-seeded Myles Martin of Ohio State in the NCAA semifinals.
• Won his first EIWA title with a 3-0 win over Lehigh’s Ryan Preisch in the finals, avenging his 2018 loss to Preisch for the championship.
• Captured unanimous first-team All-Ivy League honors.
• Won 15 of his 25 matches with bonus points and was 13-2 in dual matches.
• Had 10 wins against ranked opponents, and all five of his losses are to grapplers currently in the top 16 nationally.
• Was 4-0 in Ivy League dual meets with two victories by fall and the other two by tech fall.
• Went 10-1 vs. EIWA opponents, with his lone loss coming in overtime to Lou DePrez of Binghamton at the Las Vegas Invitational.
• Earned a 9-0 major decision win over then-No. 3 Zack Zavatsky of Virginia Tech on the road.

As a Freshman (2017-18)

• Took eighth at the NCAA Championships at 184 pounds to earn his first All-America honor.
• Posted a 32-6 overall record with 15 victories coming by way of bonus points, including three wins by fall.
• Won the Bearcat Open and New York State Intercollegiate titles and was the runner-up at the EIWA meet.
• Topped a pair of seeded wrestlers at NCAAs on his way to All-America status, shutting out Northern Iowa’s Drew Foster 6-0 and topping Chattanooga’s Bryce Carr 6-4.
• Opened his career with 12 straight victories and also had a 17-match win streak later in the year.
• A unanimous first-team All-Ivy League selection, he was 5-0 against conference competition.
• Was a perfect 15-0 in dual meet action.

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Cory Giger is a 15-year veteran of the Penn State beat and a journalist with 28 years of experience. He has won more than 100 state and national journalism awards during his career, plus he's a voter for the Heisman Trophy in football and Wooden Award in basketball.

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