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Penn State Wrestling: Seeds, First-Round Matchups for all 9 PSU National Qualifiers

Penn State wrestling is looking to win another national championship
Photo by Penn State Athletics: Cael Sanderson

The NCAA Wrestling Tournament brackets are out, and Penn State is well-represented.

Penn State wrestling has nine national qualifiers. Of those nine, five are top three seeds and two are No. 1’s.

Here’s a breakdown of Penn State’s qualifiers and where they’re seeded.

133: NO. 1 ROMAN BRAVO-YOUNG (16-0)

RBY won his third straight Big Ten Championship this past weekend in Ann Arbor. Now, he’s looking to win his third straight national title and add to his 52-match winning streak in the process.

Bravo-Young will have a bye and face either the No. 32 or 33 seed. 32nd-seeded McGwire Midkiff of North Dakota State is taking on American’s Jack Maida, seeded 33rd, in a pigtail match. Half of Bravo-Young’s 16 wins came against NCAA qualifiers.

141: NO. 6 BEAU BARTLETT (21-2)

The Big 10 Championships didn’t go the way Bartlett wanted. Coming in as the two seed, the goal was for Bartlett to win the conference title or at least have a rematch with Iowa’s Real Woods for the championship. None of that happened. Instead, Bartlett dropped a 4-2 decision to Nebraska’s Brock Hardy in the semifinals Saturday.

Bartlett regrouped Sunday and finished third. In Tulsa, he’ll wrestle Campbell’s Shannon Hannah (No. 27) in the first round. The man who ended Bartlett’s Big Ten title dreams, Hardy, is seeded fourth. The only other wrestler to beat Bartlett is top-seeded Woods. Bartlett is 12-2 against NCAA Tournament competition this season.

149: NO. 13 SHAYNE VAN NESS (19-6)

Van Ness took fourth at Big Tens. SVN will be facing a familiar opponent in the first round.

Van Ness will take on Central Michigan’s Johnny Lovett (No. 20), who he beat by fall in December.

He’s 9-6 against the field this season.

157: NO. 2 LEVI HAINES (21-1)

Despite beating top-ranked Peyton Robb in a thrilling Big Ten championship match and that leading to Robb falling out of position for a top seed, North Carolina’s Austin O’Connor (18-0), not the freshman sensation Haines, is No. 1 in the national bracket. This means that Haines will likely have to beat Robb again in the semifinal round to reach the national championship match. Before he can worry about that, Haines will have to get through Lock Haven’s Austin Eyler (No. 31) in the first round. 12 of Haines’s 20 wins have been against tournament competition. His only loss of the season came in January to Michigan State’s Chase Saldate, who’s the 11-seed.

165: NO. 13 ALEX FACUNDO (18-4)

Facundo is Penn State’s other freshman who will be competing at nationals. He took seventh at Big Tens. Facundo will be wrestling Northern Illinois’ Izzak Olejnik (No. 12) in the first round. Facundo is 4-4 against tournament competition.

174: NO. 1 CARTER STAROCCI (19-0)

Like RBY, Starocci is a No. 1 seed going for a national championship three-peat. To get it, there’s a good chance he’ll have to beat Nebraska’s Mikey Labriola again. Starocci beat Labriola in the Big Ten Championship match Sunday. They were the top two seeds in the Big Ten Tournament and are for the national tournament as well. Starocci will go against the winner of a pigtail match between No. 32 Will Miller (Appalachian State) and No. 33 John Worthing (Clarion). Starocci tech-falled Worthing 19-3 last month. 11 of Starocci’s 19 wins came against NCAA qualifiers.

Starocci, who is Penn State’s only undefeated wrestler with the exception of RBY has won 47 straight matches.

184: NO. 3 AARON BROOKS (12-1)

Brooks not being the No. 1 seed surprised some, but the reason is that he didn’t wrestle enough matches. A wrestler must have at least 15 bouts to be eligible for a No. 1, and Brooks had 13. Instead, Northern Iowa’s Parker Keckeisen (22-1) is the No. 1. Brooks is a two-time defending champ and just cruised to his third Big Ten title. In the NCAAs, he’ll take on Chattanooga’s Matthew Waddell (No. 30) in the first round.

Brooks is 8-1 against the tournament field, with his only loss of the season coming against Iowa State’s Marcus Coleman in December. Coleman is the No. 5 seed.

197: NO. 9 MAX DEAN (20-3)

Two early-season losses and a Big Ten Championship loss gave the defending national champ seeded lower than many expected.

But Dean is still dangerous. He beat Iowa’s Jacob Warner in the national championship match last season and did the same in the Big Ten semifinals this past Saturday. In the championship match, he fell to second-seeded Silas Allred of Nebraska in 6-3 decision.

In nationals, Dean will take on Campbell’s Levi Hopkins (No. 24) in round one. He’s 9-3 against NCAA qualifiers this season.


Kerkvliet’s only two losses this season have come against the No. 1 heavyweight in the country, Michigan’s Mason Parris. Parris beat Kerkvliet at the Bryce Jordan Center and did the same in the Big Ten Championships. To win his first national title, Kerkvliet will likely have to beat Parris.

But before that, he’ll have to get past a Big Ten foe in Purdue’s Hayden Copass (No. 30). Despite being in the same conference, the two haven’t wrestled each other in college.

Kerkvliet is 7-2 against the field for Penn State wrestling and 7-0 against anybody not named Parris.

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