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Penn State Wrestling

Penn State Wrestling: 4 out of 5 Win at NWCA All-Star Classic

Carter Starocci, Penn State Wrestling
Photo by NCAA: Carter Starocci

The NWCA All-Star Classic is only an exhibition, but it still features some of the best wrestlers in the world in one location for one night, and that location was Penn State and its wrestling home. The event was held at Rec Hall on Tuesday evening with six Penn State wrestlers competing on the night.

The event began in 1967 and was held every season up until 2017. It was brought back last year with the Classic being held in Austin, Texas.

The results don’t count for anything in their NCAA regular season records, but they’re still facing some of the best competition the country has to offer.

And just like Penn State wrestling usually does to their opponents, four of the five Penn Staters that took the mat won in dominating fashion.

Heavyweight Greg Kerkvliet won by technical fall, while 174-pounder Carter Starocci and 197-pounder Aaron Brooks both won by major decision. Shayne Van Ness took a decision at 149 pounds.

The only Nittany Lion that didn’t come away with a win was Bernie Truax, who fell to Northern Iowa’s Parker Keckeisen, 7-5, at 184 pounds. Truax gave up a stall point in the match, which was his first action as a PSU wrestler after transferring over from Cal Poly.

Van Ness turned into a fan favorite in his freshman season last year, and the applause he usually gets only got even louder than usual for the all-star match.

“It was loud. It was real loud,” Van Ness said. “It got me excited. This was a great crowd.”

Van Ness needed just one takedown, an escape point, and a stall point in a 5-1 win over third-ranked Kyle Parco of Arizona State.

Starocci may have been the most impressive of the five Lions that wrestled. Starocci took on Virginia Tech’s Mekhi Lewis, who Starocci beat in the 2022 national finals in a tiebreaker. This one wasn’t even close as Starocci took home an 11-0 lead, and seemed to manhandle Lewis throughout the match.

“There was absolutely nothing he was going to do about it,” Starocci said. “I could have done anything I wanted. When you take someone’s heart, that’s the best feeling.”

Starocci said that every match he competes in is more than an exhibition.

“This match doesn’t count on your record, but if you’re a competitor and a warrior, everything counts on your record,” he said. “I think it should count on your record. It could be an Olympic finals match or it could be an exhibition match. It’s all the same.”

Brooks was an 11-2 major decision winner over South Dakota State’s Tanner Sloan. Brooks needed three takedowns in the match – one in the first and two in the second – to get the easy victory.

It was the first match that Brooks wrestled in over a year in Rec Hall. The last one he wrestled was the Lock Haven dual meet on Nov. 11, 2022. He also competed in the Michigan and Iowa home dual meets, but those were in the Bryce Jordan Center.

“I’m very blessed to be in the room that I’m in,” Brooks said. “I get every different look you could possibly imagine.”

Kerkvliet ended the night with an 18-2 technical fall over Air Force’s Wyatt Hendrickson, which was another impressive feat for the Lion heavyweight. Kerkvliet had nearly pinned Hendrickson at one point in the first period.

Penn State is back in action with its first home dual meet on Dec. 3 against Lehigh at 2 p.m.

Women lead off

The women’s freestyle matches began the event on the night with Samara Chavez of King University in Tennessee getting a fall over North Central’s Sydney Petzinger at 116 pounds.

Aurora’s Alexis Janiak got a superior decision over Life’s Sarah Savidge at 130, and Adaugo Nwachukwu (William Penn) earned an 11-7 win over North Central’s Yele Aycock at 136. Iowa’s Marlynne Deede wrapped up the women’s matches with an 8-3 victory over Life’s Latifah McBryde at 160.

The women’s matches were well-received by the nice crowd at Rec Hall. It could be a sign that women’s wrestling will become more prevalent in the near future.

LHU’s Noto competes falls by major decision

There was a nice applause for Anthony Noto, who is the No. 1 ranked wrestler at 125 pounds from just down the road from State College at Lock Haven University.

Noto was down 3-2 in the final moments to Purdue’s Matt Ramos, and gave up at 7-point move in the end to fall by a 10-2 major decision.

It’s just another example of how some things could change with the new 3-point takedown.

Women’s Matches

116 – Samara Chavez (King) VFA Sydney Petzinger (North Central), 3:50.

130 – Alexis Janiak (Aurora) VSU Sarah Savidge (Life), :31.

136 – Adaugo Nwachukwu (William Penn) VPO Yele Aycock (North Central), 11-7.

160 – Marlynne Deede (Iowa) VPO Latifah McBryde (Life), 8-3.

Men’s Matches

125 – Matt Ramos (Purdue) maj. dec. Anthony Noto (Lock Haven), 10-2.

133 – Connor McGonagle (Lehigh) dec. Sam Latona (Virginia Tech), 7-5 2 OT.

141 – Lachlan McNeil (North Carolina) dec. Josh Koderhandt (Navy), 4-2.

149 – Shayne Van Ness (Penn State) dec. Kyle Parco (Arizona State), 5-1.

157 – Nolan Hertel (Wisconsin La Crosse) dec. Nick Novak (St. Cloud State), 3-1 TB2.

165 – Izzak Olejnik (Oklahoma State) dec. Dean Hamiti (Wisconsin), 8-2.

174 – Carter Starocci (Penn State) maj. dec. Mekhi Lewis (Virginia Tech), 11-0.

184 – Parker Keckeisen (Northern Iowa) dec. Bernie Truax (Penn State), 7-5.

197 – Aaron Brooks (Penn State) maj. dec. Tanner Sloan (South Dakota State), 11-2.

285 – Greg Kerkvliet (Penn State) tech. fall Wyatt Hendrickson (Air Force), 18-2 4:48.

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