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Penn State Wrestling Notebook: Sanderson in favor of 3-point takedown

Penn State wrestling is looking to win another national championship
Photo by Penn State Athletics: Cael Sanderson

There are some who are very supportive of the new 3-point takedown around Penn State and college wrestling, and there are some who aren’t in favor of it.

Count PSU coach Cael Sanderson is a big fan of the new rule, which comes into effect for the first time this season.

Many believe that it will lead to technical falls in much quicker time, especially with teams that are outstanding on their feet like Penn State.

“We had a round of intersquad matches last week, and the points fly,” Sanderson said at Wednesday’s press conference. “They get up there quickly. We’re always just going to adjust to whatever the rules are. I think it’s a good rule, and we’re excited about it. You get your reward for the most part.”

“We’re optimistic the kids will try to score more points. We’ve traditionally been very strong on our feet. I don’t think it really changes anything. It’s a two-way street. Their takedowns are worth three points, too.”

Penn State will get its first look at the new 3-point takedown rule this weekend as it sounds like most of the starters will be competing at the Journeymen Collegiate Classic Sunday in Bethlehem. Fans should be excited because there looks to be more depth, and maybe even more talent, than there’s ever been in Penn State’s wrestling room.

“I think we have a really solid room right now, a lot of good guys throughout the lineup,” Sanderson said.


It was reported back in October that Aaron Nagao suffered a serious injury while training, and his availability for the season was in question.

Sanderson confirmed that the news didn’t get out until about six weeks after the injury happened. He said that he won’t be wrestling at the Journeymen Classic this weekend, but will be returning to the mat later this month.

“That rumor got out there like six weeks late, so we were super proud of our guys,” Sanderson said. “That’s the way it should be. What happens in our room should stay in our room, as far as those things.”

As far as the former All-American at Minnesota, he’s finding his new team to be a fun group.

“I felt like I fit in right away,” Nagao said. “Everyone is just here to take care of business at practice. I have good relationships with the guys on the team. I’m friends with everybody.”


There was some questions until only about a few weeks ago if Carter Starocci would return to try to make himself a 4-time national championship this season. He confirmed he was returning to the team in a video with Penn State athletics.

The decision came down to academics, and also needing to make the weight cut to 163 pounds for the Olympic trials in April, which are being held in the Bryce Jordan Center.

“I don’t like going to class. I was kind of ready to be done,” Starocci said. “And for me, my college weight class is 174 and for the Olympics it’s 163. It’s a bit of a weight change. We have to make weight once or twice a week in college, and that kind of makes it more challenging to bring your weight down. Me and my coaches came up with a gameplan, and we’ll be ready to do both.”

Brooks moving up to 197

Speaking of cutting weight, Aaron Brooks will be bumping up to 197 pounds this season instead of 184 after having issues getting down to the weight last season.

Tournaments were especially rough for Brooks, who would always wrestle late into rounds and sometimes wouldn’t come off the mat until around 9 p.m.

“I’d check my weight (after the last match), and I’m like 12 pounds over,” Brooks said. “Then I got to get down to weight, so I don’t get to bed until about 1 or 2 a.m. and I’m up at 5 or 6 to check my weight and get a workout in. It was tough. My body was telling me to go up. I might as well go up.”

Sanderson said there shouldn’t be a problem with Brooks making the bump, and says he won’t be undersized at the new weight class.

Brooks will also have to make the cut to 186 pounds for the Olympic trials in April.

“He’s big and strong,” Sanderson said. “I try not to make eye contact with him before practice because I don’t want to be his partner. He’s doing really well. He’ll have to manage his weight.

“He’s looking at the next level. He has to make 86. He just made 86 a couple weeks ago when he won U23 worlds. He’s aware of that for the Olympic trials. I think his mentality is to not get too big right now. He’s definitely going to be big and strong enough for 197.”

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