Penn State is your 2023 NCAA wrestling national champion.
Cael Sanderson’s empire had almost everything go right this weekend in Tulsa, sending seven of its nine qualifiers to the semifinals and going 5-2 in semifinal matches.
The team ended Friday night up by 39.5 points on second-place Iowa, so everybody knew Penn State was going to bring it home.
But what helped Penn State clinch it was unexpected.
Iowa’s 125-pound great Spencer Lee suffered a monumental upset Friday night, falling to No. 4 Matt Ramos of Purdue, 13-7, via pin in the semifinals, ending his bid for a fourth national title.
Saturday morning, Iowa announced that Lee had medically forfeited, thus ending his tournament and his chance to get Iowa more points.
Penn State wrestling now has won 10 titles in 12 years and 11 overall. Its first title came in 1953. Sanderson became the boss in 2009 and won his first championship in ’11.
It was off to the races from there.
Penn State won it again in 2012, ’13 and 14.
After a brief hiatus, Penn State had another four-peat from 2016-19 and now has gone back-to-back in 2022 and ’23.
The job is done from a team standpoint, but there’s still work to do individually. Five Penn State wrestlers are in national championship matches Saturday night.
At 133, 174 and 184 pounds, respectively, Roman Bravo-Young, Carter Starocci and Aaron Brooks will all look for their third straight national championships. At 157 and 285, Levi Haines and Greg Kerkvliet are going for their first.
Here’s the lineup.
133-No. 1 Roman Bravo-Young vs. No. 3 Cornell’s Vito Arujau (24-1)
157-No. 2 Levi Haines vs. No. 1 North Carolina’s Austin O’Connor (22-0)
174-No. 1 Carter Starocci vs. No. 2 Nebraska’s Mikey Labriola (29-1)
184-No. 3 Aaron Brooks vs. No. 1 Northern Iowa’s Parker Keckeisen (26-1)
285-No. 3 Greg Kerkvliet vs. No. 1 Michigan’s Mason Parris (32-0)