There’s no way around it: It’s a tough loss for Penn State wrestling with 149-pounder Shayne Van Ness done for the season with an injury.
Van Ness was ranked second by FloWrestling at 149 and was 3-0 with three falls for the season. He also had a 5-1 win over Arizona State’s Kyle Parco at the NWCA All-Star meet.
But now that Van Ness is done for the season, who could be the next man up at 149 for Penn State?
Here’s a look at the likely candidates for the spot:
Tyler Kasak – It isn’t known exactly when Van Ness was injured, but it’s fair to assume it was before last Sunday’s dual meet with Lehigh. Kasak, a true freshman, started in that match and came away with 7-6 win.
“He’s a pretty dang good wrestler,” said Sanderson after the Lehigh dual. “He’s a hard-nosed, tough Pennsylvania kid.”
Kasak is now 4-1 on the season and is the listed starter for Sunday’s dual against Hofstra, so this looks like he might be the most likely answer as the starter, at least in the short-term.
Connor Pierce – The redshirt freshman went 7-1 in open tournaments last season in his redshirt year, and he’s 3-3 so far this season. The Erie native was a four-time state place winner in high school, including as a runner-up in his senior year.
Beau Bartlett – This would be probably the least likely to happen as Bartlett has a stranglehold on the spot at 141 pounds, but it isn’t unthinkable. After all, Bartlett was the starter at 149 just two years ago. He went 15-10 overall for the season at 149 and was a qualifier for the NCAA Championships.
Again, this would probably be the least likely outcome for Penn State wrestling. Bartlett is ranked No. 2 at 141 right now. He sits only behind Iowa’s Real Woods at the weight class.