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Penn State Wrestling

Penn State Wrestling: Where do PSU’s Wrestlers Rank in their Weight Classes?

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

The latest Intermat wrestling rankings are out, and believe it or not, No. 1 Penn State is well-represented.

Penn State wrestling has representatives from all 19 weight classes. Here’s a breakdown of each competitor, and where they rank.

125: BRAEDEN DAVIS (PENN STATE WRESTLING, NO. 4)

Davis has been perhaps the biggest surprise for Penn State wrestling this season. To be clear, Taylor Swift could have started the season as Penn State’s 125-pounder and the team still would have been the odds on favorite to repeat as national champs. But Davis has filled what had been the only virtual Blank Space in Penn State’s lineup, and quickly become not only serviceable, but one of the America’s best as a true freshman.

Davis burned his redshirt this past Friday at Michigan, and celebrated by upsetting multi-time All-American Michael DeAugustino. If Davis keeps up his fantastic freshman season, there’s no reason he can’t be an All-American as well.

133: AARON NAGAO (PENN STATE WRESTLING, NO. 5)

Nagao is the only Penn State regular with more than one loss on the season, but there’s a good reason for that. His first loss came against Lehigh’s Ryan Crookham, who happens to be No. 1 at 133. His second one— which took place this past Friday at Michigan— was against Dylan Ragusin, who’s No. 4.

The Ragusin loss could have easily gone either way with the match going to sudden victory, and Nagao could well see him again in the Big Ten Tournament.

141: BEAU BARTLETT (PENN STATE WRESTLING, NO. 2)

Bartlett has been excellent as expected this season, carrying a 12-0 record. His most exciting bouts are the ones ahead of him. Bartlett is slated to wrestle No. 3 Jesse Mendez when Ohio State takes on Penn State at Rec Hall Feb. 2. The next week, he takes on  No. 1 Real Woods of Iowa in Iowa City. Both of those are threats to Bartlett not only in the regular season, but in the Big Ten and NCAA championships as well. Woods is the favorite to be the champ at 141, and did beat Bartlett last season when No. 1 Penn State wrestled No. 2 Iowa at the Bryce Jordan Center.

The man who stopped Bartlett’s quest to win a Big Ten title, Brock Hardy, is still at Nebraska and ranked No. 7. Penn State takes on Nebraska at Rec. Hall Feb. 18.

149: TYLER KASAK (NO. 12)

Penn State fans experienced concern— not we-might-not-win-the-national-title-type concern, but concern nonetheless— last month when Cael Sanderson announced that Penn State’s regular at 149, 2023 All-American Shayne Van Ness, would miss the rest of the season due to injury. But a true freshman has stepped up at that weight class. Tyler Kasak had his coming out party less than two weeks ago against Indiana. He took on 2023 national qualifier and nationally ranked Graham Rooks of Indiana. Not only did the freshman hold his own, he won.

Not only did he win, he dominated Rooks.

Not only did he dominate Rooks, he shut him out via 15-0 tech fall.

Kasak is clearly a rising star. The question is: Will Sanderson and Penn State want to burn his redshirt? Kasak has wrestled in three dual meets, so he still can wrestle two more before his redshirt is up. Classmate Davis has exhausted his, so we’ll see what happens with Kasak.

157: LEVI HAINES (NO. 1)

Haines made it all the way to the national championship match at 149 last season when he was just a true freshmen. The man he lost to, North Carolina’s Austin O’Connor, was a sixth-year senior who’s now out of eligibility. So it’s no surprise to see Haines on top at 157. He’s 9-0 overall this season, and is slated to have his biggest matchup ahead of him. Iowa’s Jared Franek is ranked No. 2 in the country, so that should be a showdown Feb. 9 in Iowa City. Haines will likely also face Peyton Robb— who he upset both in the Big Ten and national championships last season— when Nebraska comes to Rec Hall for the Feb. 18 dual meet. Mesenbrink is 13-0 overall and,

165: MITCHELL MESENBRINK (NO. 7)

Along with Davis and Truax, Mesenbrink has been one of Penn State’s biggest surprises. The redshirt freshman came to Penn State unproven in the college wrestling world, with only two matches under his belt in his redshirt season at Cal Baptist.

But Mesenbrink has quickly become a force at 165, and that was evident this past Friday in Ann Arbor.

Mesenbrink took on Michigan’s Cameron Amine— a three-time All-American who InterMat has at No. 10 in the latest rankings— and outclassed him in a 12-1 major decision. Less than 48 hours later, Mesenbrink took on another formidable foe in Michigan State’s Caleb Fish, who’s ranked No. 9.

Mesenbrink majored him, too.

Overall, Mesenbrink’s 13-0, and he has a solid chance at winning his first Big Ten championship come March. He’s very much an All-American candidate, too, and should be a force at the national championships.

174: CARTER STAROCCI (NO. 1)

No surprises here. Starocci has been his dominant self in a somewhat limited schedule this season, carrying a 6-0 record. He didn’t compete over the weekend due to what’s reported to be an illness, thus missing Penn State’s dual meets at Michigan Friday and Michigan State Sunday. Fans were especially disappointed about Starocci missing Friday’s dual meet, as he would have been pitted against No. 4 Shane Griffith, a former national champion who virtually saved Stanford wrestling in 2021. Starocci and Griffith also had some history from their high school years, which would have spiced things up even further. Alas, it wasn’t to be.

But Starocci expects himself to be back soon, and there’s no reason to believe otherwise. In that showdown at Iowa, Starocci’s slated to wrestle No. 9 Patrick Kennedy. After that, he could well meet Griffith after all at the Big Ten championships.

184: BERNIE TRUAX (NO. 5)

The Cal Poly transfer has lived up to the hype thus far. Truax came to Penn State as a three-time All-American who placed in the top four at 174, 184 and 197. Now, Truax is at 184, and he’s doing quite well.

The Big Ten championship is certainly in play for Truax. We might be getting a finals preview next month assuming Truax takes on Nebraska’s Lwnny Pinto, ranked No. 3. Those are the two highest-ranked Big Ten wrestlers at 184 and two of the best in the country.

197: AARON BROOKS (NO. 1)

Much like fellow three-time national champ Starocci, nobody should be surprised to see Brooks at the top of 197. He’s 8-0 thus far, and it’s been business as usual.

HEAVYWEIGHT: GREG KERKVLIET (NO. 1)

With Michigan’s Mason Parris— who was responsible for Kerkvliet’s only three losses last season and took the Big Ten and national championships away from him— now gone, Kerkvliet was the man at 285 coming into the season, and he hasn’t disappointed. He’s 7-0 thus far and just handled Michigan’s Lucas Davison— ranked No. 4– in an 8-3 decision. Considering Davison is the highest-ranked Big Ten heavyweight next to Kerkvliet, that’s a good sign for the Big Ten championships. Furthermore, considering Kerkvliet’s ranked No. 1 and the guy who beat him in the national finals last season is gone, the national title appears to be his to lose, too.

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