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‘I Just Like Beating People Up’: Penn State Wrestling Star Carter Starocci is Ready to go for 4th National Title

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

“This should be fun,” Penn State wrestling star Carter Starocci said with a smile upon talking with media Wednesday afternoon.

The past few weeks haven’t been fun for Starocci.

He entered Penn State’s last dual meet against Edinboro Feb. 26 on top of the wrestling world.

Starocci is a three-time defending national champ and looked like a shoe-in to win No. 4. Then, he got injured.

The injury was serious enough for Starocci to need helped off the mat, and immediately, people wondered what would happen.

Would he be able to wrestle at the Big Ten championships?

Would be able to defend his national title?

Starocci’s coach, Cael Sanderson, decided to hold him out of Big Tens.

Predictably, Starocci wasn’t too happy about not being able to wrestle, and shortly after midnight this past Sunday morning— the second day of the championships— he sent a cryptic post to X (formerly Twitter) that raised more questions.

But late Monday afternoon, Starocci hinted on the same platform that he intended to wrestle for his fourth national title.

The next afternoon, he got an at-large bid to the championships, which he had to get due to not competing at Big Tens.

On Wednesday, Sanderson stood bye his decision, but confirmed that Starocci will be ready to go.

“He’s doing well,” Sanderson said. “There was some drama and some things over the weekend. But we felt really comfortable… that was obviously in his best interest to not give him the opportunity to wrestle and just stay healthy, and I think it was definitely the right decision.

Starocci also reaffirmed that he felt he could have competed at Big Tens, but is grateful that Sanderson looked out for his best interest.

“It was frustrating,” he said. “But, I think, just looking back on it, I think it’s a blessing to have a coach that really cares about me, not just as a wrestler but as a person.

Starocci send he felt Sanderson was in a “lose-lose situation.”

“If he puts me out there,” he said, “he’s kind of second-guessing himself, and the other alternative is I’m getting pissed at him. But at the end of the day, he’s the bossman, I work for him. So whatever he decides, I’m going to roll with.”

“He’s the man. I mean, he’s done everything that I ever want to do in this life. In wrestling, outside of wrestling. So almost every word that comes out of his mouth, maybe besides that day, I’m always on board with.”

Starocci said he’d “do anything” for Sanderson.

Next weekend in Kansas City, he has a chance to do something only Sanderson— an Iowa State legend— and four other wrestlers have done, which is become a four-time champ.

Starocci said he feels he can do everything as normal.

“I’m feeling good,” he said. “Yeah, I’m excited. So this is the time of year that we all live for, train for. So this is the fun part.”

Starocci never fails to give Penn State wrestling reporters— or any other reporter— a good quote

Here’s some more evidence.

“It’s (the chance to win four title) pretty cool,” he said. “I mean, it’s something that I’ve always wanted to do, like I said. But, like, seriously, when I really think about it, like, it’s not that cool for me. I just like beating people up.”

“I don’t know, that’s just like… that’s just totally fun for me, and me not being able to compete at the Big Tens, I’m ready to cut every one of these dude’s throats off. So it’s going to be business.”

Sanderson said Starocci “probably would have done really well,” at Big Tens had he wrestled, and understood where Starocci’s frustration came from.

“He’s just passionate,” Sanderson said. “He loves wrestling. He’s a competitor. He wants to win. He wants to be the greatest and wants to dominate every match. So, yeah, I love it. I think it’s great.”

Sanderson is confident one of the biggest stars he’s ever coached at Penn State wrestling— and there have been plenty— will shine this weekend.

“He’s doing well,” Sanderson said. “He’ll be ready to go. He’s Carter.”


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