Penn State wrestling has won 10 national championships in 12 years, and if recruiting is any indication, coach Cael Sanderson’s empire isn’t stopping any time soon.
Here’s a breakdown of Penn State wrestling recruiting, and the school’s commitments from the 2024 and ‘25 classes.
CLASS OF 2024
THE MIRASOLA TWINS
Commitment Date: Feb. 20, 2023
Cole won a 2022 state championship, placed fifth at Fargo and seventh in the U17 world team trials.
Connor won two state titles and took first at the past two Fargo’s. He also finished second at the U17 World Team Trials twice.
FloWrestling has Connor ranked as the No. 11 ‘24 in the nation and has Cole ranked No. 13.
In getting the Mirasola twins, Sanderson dove into Big Ten territory. Wisconsin is Badger country, and Penn State and the University of Wisconsin have had many battles in many sports over the years.
Commitment Date: Sept. 23, 2022
The New York state champion committed to Penn State wrestling in September, and it was a big recruiting get.
Ryder, a Westtown, New York, native, wrestled for Minisink Valley from his seventh-grade year through this past season, ending with four state championships.
Although Ryder still has his senior season left, he won’t be wrestling for Minisink Valley.
Instead, he’ll be training with Nittany Lion Wrestling Club and taking his classes online. Ryder met arguably the best wrestler in Penn State history this season— two-time Hodge Trophy winner David Taylor. Ryder started training at Pennsylvania’s M2 Training Center and has struck up a bond with Taylor, who still wrestles on the Olympic scene.
Ryder took first at the U.S. Open Under-17 Championships this year, winning in the 80 Kilogram (176-pound) weight class, and this was three weeks after he tore his meniscus.
Last year, Ryder took first at the U17 U.S. Cadet freestyle tournament at 176 pounds in Vegas.
His performance in ‘Sin City’ was good enough to get him to worlds, where he took Bronze in July. This past summer, he wrestled at the Under-17 World Championships, which will take place in Istanbul, Turkey, and took Bronze in the 80KG men’s freestyle.
FloWrestling has Ryder as the No.1 pound-for-pound wrestler in the country.
” I am honored to be joining the legacy at Penn State and to be given the opportunity to help carry on that legacy,” Ryder wrote upon his commitment.
Commitment Date: April 10, 2023
Lilledahl, the sixth-ranked wrestler overall in the Class of 2024 and second in the 126-pound weight class, committed to Penn State wrestling in April, a massive recruiting win.
Lilledahl is a Missouri native who has competed at the Wyoming Seminary the past two seasons, posting a 46-3 record. He won the Super 32 meet last fall, the Walsh Jesuit Ironman meet by defeating Jax Forrest, and finished the season by winning the 2023 National Prep title.
Lilledahl is a highly touted freestyle wrestling competitor, having made it to back-to-back Under-17 championships, taking silver in 2021 and gold in 2022.
This past summer, he took silver at the U20 World Championships.
Commitment Date: Oct. 31, 2022
Sealey, the No. 14 wrestler in the Class of 2024 out of High Point, North Carolina, announced on his Instagram account in October that he’s committed to Penn State.
‘I am excited to announce that I am continuing my athletic and academic career at Penn State,” Sealey wrote. “I am so incredibly grateful to my family, friends, and coaches that got me where I am.”
Last July, Sealey won the UWW Under 17 World team trials, which took place in Rome, Italy, by defeating KJ Evans, a Class of 2023 Oklahoma commit, in two straight bouts (9-2, 15-7). That was when his stock started to rise, and he became one of the most sought-after recruits in the country.
This year, Sealey was the National Prep School Champion at 157 pounds.
At Penn State, Sealey will likely compete either at the 165 or 174-pound class. If he wrestles at 174, he’ll have a chance to continue Carter Starocci’s legacy, which would be a tall task given that Starocci is one of the best Penn State’s ever had.
Commitment Date: Nov. 19, 2022
Two of the most high-profile recruits from central Pennsylvania decided to stay home and continue their wrestling careers at Penn State.
Erik and Mason Gibson, both committed to Cornell, announced in November that they’d decided to flip to Penn State. Erik signed his letter of intent last year to Cornell but was never listed on the roster last season. Mason is a member of the Class of 2024.
“After a ton of tough decisions, I have decided to conclude my time up in Ithaca and flip my commitment to Penn State University,” Erik Gibson wrote to Twitter. “Shoutout to everyone who has helped me get to where I am today. None of this would be possible without y’all.”
“Love it or hate it, I’m staying home,” Mason Gibson tweeted.
Mason Gibson is the No. 22 wrestler overall from the ‘2024 Class and the No. 4 wrestler in the 126-pound weight class.
Commitment Date: May 1, 2023
Weiss announced his commitment to Penn State on the first night of May. He’s an in-state product, wrestling for Lycoming’s Jersey Shore High School. Although he’s not in FloWrestling’s top 100, Weiss has had a successful high school career. He’s 102-11 overall and went 29-0 this past season, with 20 wins coming via fall. He didn’t wrestle in the postseason this year but took second in states as a sophomore. Like Sealey and other recruits, Weiss trains with Taylor at the M2 Training Center.
CLASS OF 2025
Commitment Date: Sept. 25, 2023
It turns out that White Out weekend helped Penn State wrestling’s future, too. It was the weekend the No. 1 wrestling recruit in the 2025 Class took his official visit to Penn State. It was the weekend PJ Duke decided he wanted to join Sanderson’s empire.
Duke, a Minisink Valley, New York, product, spent Saturday night surrounded by 110,830+ people in Beaver Stadium and spent the game standing on the field while his family sat with Penn State’s wrestling coaches.
But when Duke told Sanderson his decision to commit, the only people on hand were the coach, the recruit and the recruit’s family inside Sanderson’s office.
When Duke told Sanderson the good news, he sensed how happy his future coach was.
“I think he tried not to show his emotions too much,” Duke told Nittany Sports Now, “but I think he was pretty excited.”
Sanderson, Penn State and its fans have a lot to be excited about.
Duke is the youngest New York state champion in history, winning the title as seventh-grader. He’s also a Fargo and Super 32 champion– two prestigious high school showcases.
Commitment Date: June 20, 2023
Penn State wrestling has landed its second commitment from the Class of 2025 in late June.
Asher Cunningham, the son of head assistant coach Casey Cunningham, committed to Penn State, announcing the decision via Instagram.
The younger Cunningham is a local product from State College High School who’s competed at the 145, 152 and 160-pound weight classes, according to PAWrestling.com.
His record over his first two seasons is 63-16, and he won district championships in both. He won at 120 pounds his freshman season and at 145 as a sophomore. Cunningham placed fourth at the PIAA State Tournament this past March, competing at 145 and falling to Waynesburg’s Mac Church in the semifinals.
After states, Cunningham wrestled at the 2023 Ultimate Club Spring Duals in April, going 4-2.
Commitment Date: March 27, 2022
Dalton Perry, then a freshman from Central Mountain High School who won a state championship two weeks ago, committed to Cael Sanderson’s empire in March 2022, the same month it won its ninth championship in 11 years.
Perry finished his freshman season with a 41-2 record and won the PIAA AAA title in the 126-pound weight class.
“This has been a dream of mine for many years,” Perry wrote on Instagram. “I look up to many guys in that room and can’t weight to join them.”
This past season, he went 44-6 and took third at states, moving up to 139.