There’s going to be about eight months until Penn State wrestling has to think about it, but coach Cael Sanderson will be thinking about it all through the rest of the spring, summer and early fall.
What exactly will his lineup look like next season, at least at the start of it?
Here’s a breakdown by weight class of what Penn State will have on the roster going into 2023-24
Assuming everyone stays in State College, Penn State has a lot of options moving forward at the weight that it’s struggled the most. Gary Steen had a tough season with a 6-15 record in his first year as the full-time starter, filling in for Robbie Howard, who missed the whole year with an injury. Both will be back next year, as will Marco Vespa, who filled in for Steen a couple of times this year, including against Iowa’s Spencer Lee in January’s dual meet.
Also on the roster are Timothy Levine and Karl Shindledecker. Brendan Wentzel and Cael Nadeo are expected to join the team next season.
Roman Bravo-Young held down the weight class for the last five years, and there aren’t a whole lot of options left on the roster. Baylor Shunk filled in for Bravo-Young a couple times this season when he needed a break, but that’s it. Braeden Davis is also committed to the ‘23 class. It wouldn’t be all that surprising to see Sanderson look into the transfer portal at 133 pounds.
Beau Bartlett will be back as the starter again next season for his senior year after a third place finish at last weekend’s national championships. Also coming back are David Evans, Connor Pierce and Sean Wang. Tyler Kasak will join the team as well.
Shayne Van Ness turned in a stellar freshman season with a third place finish at 149. Like Bartlett at 141, Van Ness at 149 pounds is probably written in pen more so than pencil. The only other wrestler on the roster at 149 is Aurelius Dunbar.
True freshman Levi Haines became the starter midway through the season in place of Terrell Barraclough. It will be interesting to see what Barraclough does because it’s highly doubtful Haines won’t be in the starting lineup after his runner-up finish at NCAAs. Also on the roster are Brian Borden and Matt Lee.
Alex Facundo went 0-2 at the NCAA Championships, but that doesn’t take away from the freshman’s solid season. Facundo finished 19-6 and will almost surely be the starter at 165 again next season. Joe Lee is a backup at the weight.
Carter Starocci indicated after winning his third national title last weekend that he won’t be back at Penn State and will focus on the Olympics. Jack Kelly and incoming freshman Josh Barr are still on the roster, but it will be hard, if not impossible to fill Starocci’s boots.
Aaron Brooks has also been an NCAA champion three years in a row. He didn’t wrestle quite in many dual meets as usual this past season.
Donovon Ball wrestled a lot of matches for Penn State and gained experience. Brooks and Ball both still have eligibility, but it wouldn’t be all that surprising to see Brooks bump up a weight to 197 next year. Lucas Cochran is also on Penn State’s roster.
Max Dean finished up his career last weekend with a seventh place finish. As mentioned above, Brooks could make the bump up to 197. PSU also has Eddie Smith and has incoming freshman AJ Fricchione joining the team. You never know about the transfer portal, but that’s always possible here, too.
Greg Kerkvliet was a runner-up at heavyweight at NCAAs, and he will be there again next year. With backup Seth Nevills entering the transfer portal earlier this week, that leaves Kerkvliet as the only heavyweight on the roster. It wouldn’t be surprising to see a transfer portal addition here for Penn State wrestling.