On Thursday, Penn State wrestler Levi Haines was honored as the Open Mat NCAA Division I Freshman of the Year.
Haines won the Big Ten Championship by defeating Nebraska’s Peyton Robb in the 157-pound class with a 25-2 record and finished second in the NCAA wrestling finals.
Coach Cael Samuelson had the intention to redshirt Haines but he got an opportunity in December to take on Iowa’s Cobe Siebrecht and won 3-2, and that was when he decided to burn his redshirt–and the rest was history.
Haines was defeated by North Carolina’s Austin O’Connor, a sixth-year senior by the score of 6-2, by way of two takedowns and riding time.
In the NCAA tournament, Haines pinned Virginia’s Bryce Andonian in the third period after trailing 6-0 and defeated Robb for the second time in the NCAA national semifinals.
Haines already earned All-American honors this season and he is one of the favorites and the odds-on favorite to win a national championship as soon as next season.
However, there is a possibility that he will move up to 174 pounds.