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Carter Starocci and Gabe Arnold had Beef Last Year. Will They Meet This Year?

There have been multiple instances of Penn State wrestling star Carter Starocci speaking his mind.

Examples include his vow for revenge over Indiana’s D.J. Washington, his brief but newsworthy reaction to not winning the Hodge Trophy last spring and, most recently, his reaction to an interesting post-match exchange between Maryland head coach Alex Clemsen and Penn State assistant Casey Cunningham.

But the most famous example is probably one that took place last year around this time.

When Penn State took on Iowa in last year’s mega-dual meet at the Bryce Jordan Center, Starocci took care of Iowa’s Nelson Brands. But not everybody was complimentary of him.

“Overrated,” Gabe Arnold, then a blue-chip Iowa commit, tweeted on the night of the dual meet. “I said what I said #seeyousoon.”

Well, a few days later, Starocci had a chance to say something himself.

”If you can kiss enough butt and get in the starting lineup,” Starocci told reporters, “I’ll take care of business there, and it’ll be in his home dojo, too. He can get whooped in front of his mom and dad. So, that’ll be fun.”

Arnold’s spent some time in Iowa’s lineup, and its highly unlikely that he had to kiss… well, you know… to get there.
The true freshman is 11-0 in all competitions, and it isn’t like he’s taking on scrubs.
Arnold has wins over two top 10 wrestlers— Iowa State’s Will Feldkamp (ranked No. 6 at 184) and Columbia’s Lenox Wolak (ranked No. 9 at 174).
So he’s capable of competing at both 174 and 184.
There’s a good chance Arnold wrestles against Penn State in some capacity.
With true freshmen, there’s always the concern of burning redshirts, but Arnold’s only wrestled in three attached competitions, which is two short
of the maximum five. So Arnold wouldn’t burn his redshirt by wrestling Friday night. The question seems to be: Will he wrestle at 174 or 184?
There’s a case to be made for each.
As of last February, Arnold wanted Starocci, and explained his eye-opening tweet to FloWrestling not long after he sent it.
“Carter Starocci is one of the best at 174 pounds,” Arnold said, “and that’s who I have in my mirror every single day. That’s who I see. That’s who I’m going to beat next year. So, these are goals that I have set for myself, and whether people like me or not, I honestly could care less. But my goal is to beat Carter Starocci. My goal is to be a 2024 NCAA national champ at 174 pounds. So, by any means necessary, that is what I will do. So, hate me or love me, I’m Gabe Arnold.”

As good as Arnold already is and as much as he could benefit by going against perhaps the best pound-for-pound wrestler in the country, it’s unlikely to happen Friday night, and since Starocci will almost certainly be done with college wrestling after the NCAA Championships in March, it might not ever happen at the college level.
Iowa coach Tom Brands will most likely send out Patrick Kennedy at 174.
Not that anybody would match up well with Starocci, but Kennedy gives Iowa the best shot. He’s ranked No. 7 at 174 and is 10-3 overall.
So having the more polished Kennedy at 174 probably isn’t as intriguing for wrestling fans, but makes the most sense for Iowa, especially given what’s at 184 for both teams.
Iowa’s regular 184 pounder is Aiden Riggins, who is has lost as many matches (10) as he’s won.
If Riggins wrestled Penn State’s Bernie Truax, who’s ranked No. 6, he’d almost certainly get beat.
Although Trux, a multi-time All-American, would surely be the favorite over Arnold as well, Arnold would at least have a chance. As mention, Arnold has a win over a top 10 wrestler at 184, and Truax got pinned by an unranked opponent last Friday.
If nothing else, Arnold would likely keep it competitive and gain valuable experience wrestling a quality veteran. Plus, Kennedy’s normal weight is 165, so he’s already wrestling up a class, and a jump from 165 to 184 would be a lot.
Starocci and Arnold would be entertaining. When two athletes of any sport— especially a combat one— beef, people want to see them go at it. Alas, it probably won’t happen, and from Iowa’s end, it would make little sense for it to.

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