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Penn State Wrestling

LIVE: Penn State Wrestling with Six Finalists Going for National Title

Penn State Wrestling

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Penn State wrestling has six finalists going for the National Title tonight in the final session of the NCAA Championships at the T-Mobile Center Saturday night.

The order of bouts for weight classes goes 285, 125, 133, 141, 149, 157, 165, 174, 184 and 197 pounds, respectively, with the start time at 6:00 p.m. CST or 7:00 p.m. at State College, Pa.

285 Pounds: No. 1 Greg Kerkvliet
20-0 Overall Record

Kerkvliet came in looking for his first National Title in his fourth season of collegiate wrestling. He made it last season to the final, but lost to Michigan’s Mason Parris.

He defeated No. 32 Indiana’s Nick Willham in the Round of 32 on technical fall, a 9-1 major decision against No. 17 Navy’s Grady Griess in the Round of 16, 1-0 decision over No. 9 Ohio State’s Nick Feldman in the Quarterfinals and then No. 4 Arizona State’s Cohlton Schultz in an 8-1 decision in the Semifinals Friday night.

Kerkvliet took No. 10 Northwestern graduate student Lucas Davison (22-4) in the Final. Kerkvliet came in 2-0 against Davison in his career and won an 8-3 decision against him back on Jan. 19.

In the biggest match of his life, Kerkvliet dominated throughout, with four takedowns en route to a 13-4 major decision to win that National Title.

He is the first national champion at heavyweight for Penn State wrestling since Anthony Cassar in 2019.

141 Pounds: No. 2 Beau Bartlett (Penn State Wrestling)
22-2 Overall Record

Bartlett defeated No. 31 Maryland’s Kal Miller in a 6-1 decision in the Round of 32, pinned No. 15 Rutgers’ Mitch Moore in the Round of 16, won both a 5-1 decision against No. 26 Minnesota’s Vince Vombaur in the Quarterfinals and a 6-1 decision  No. 6 North Carolina’s Lachlan McNeil in the semifinals.

He takes on No. 1 Ohio State sophomore Jesse Mendez in the Final Saturday night, looking for his first National Title.

Bartlett defeated Mendez in their first matchup, 4-1 in sudden victory on Feb. 2, but lost 4-1 in the Big Ten Championships.

Both wrestlers kept it close throughout, 1-1 through three periods. Bartlett looked like he got the takedown, but Mendez managed to snake out of it and won the match on a 4-1 decision.

157 pounds: No. 1 Levi Haines
22-0 Record

Haines is in his second National Title match in just two seasons for Penn State wrestling. He lost to North Carolina’s Austin O’Connor last season, who finished undefeated on the season.

He defeated No. 32 Ohio State’s Isaac Wilcox and No. 16 Oklahoma State’s Teague Travis on technical falls in the Round of 32 and 16, respectively. Haines then won a 8-0 decision against No. 8 Nebraska’s Peyton Robb and pinned No. 12 Virginia Tech’s Bryce Andonian at 6:49 in the Semifinals.

Haines faced No. 2 Arizona State redshirt senior Jacori Teemer (25-4) in the Final for their first meeting against each other.

A crucial takedown for Haines in the third period allowed him to control the match and win the National Title on a 5-0 decision after riding time.

165 Pounds: No. 2 Mitchell Mesenbrink
26-1 Overall Record

He started off the NCAA Championships defeating No. 31 Northwestern’s Maxx Mayfield on a technical fall in the Round of 32 and an 11-3 major decision against No. 15 Binghamton’s Brevin Cassella in the Round of 16.

Mesenbrink got a takedown in the second period against No. 10 Michigan redshirt senior Cameron Amine (16-8) in the Quarterfinals on Friday morning. This is his second victory against him this season, as won an 11-1 major decision in January.

Mesenbrink faces off against No. 6 Iowa sophomore Mike Caliendo (24-6) in the Semifinals Friday night. Mesenbrink won a 23-7 technical fall the last time out against Caliendo in the Big Ten Championships and a 12-6 decision back on Feb. 9. 

He continued that dominance in the series, winning a 17-9 major decision to make his first Final.

Mesenbrink faced No. 4 Iowa State senior David Carr in the Final Saturday night.

Carr took an early lead of 7-2 after two takedowns, but Mesenbrink fought back making a takedown and the referees calling stalls on Carr to tie it at 8-8. Carr would win the National Title on riding time, 9-8.

174 Pounds: No. 9 Carter Starocci
16-2 Overall Record

He started off the NCAA Championships for Penn State wrestling with a 12-6 decision against No. 24 Minnesota’s Andrew Sparks in the Round of 32 and a 5-3 decision against No. 8 Cal Poly’s Adam Kemp in the Round of 16.

Starocci had a great challenge with No. 1 Virginia Tech redshirt fifth-year Mekhi Lewis in the Quarterfinals on Friday morning.

A first-period takedown for Starocci proved crucial, as Lewis failed to score, giving him a 4-0 decision and the upset.

Starocci defeated No. 4 Michigan graduate student Shane Griffith (17-4)in the Semifinals Friday night. He rode Griffith the entire second period for riding time and got an escape in the third period.

He faced No. 6 Ohio State first-year Rocco Welsh (26-4) in the Final Saturday night, who he defeated in a 4-2 decision in the meet back on Feb. 2. 

Starocci took the lead late in the first period, with the referees calling Welsh for stalling twice. An escape in the second period gave him a 2-0 lead, one he took through to the final whistle for the National Title.

This is his fourth National Title, making him the sixth wrestlers to achieve that feat, all coming at 174 pounds. He is just the second wrestler to win four National Titles at the same weight, since Oklahoma State’s Pat White did so at 158 pounds from 1990-92 and 1994.

197 Pounds: No. 1 Aaron Brooks

Brooks looks for his fourth National Champion, trying to become the sixth wrestler to ever do it.

He defeated No. 33 Northwestern’s Evan Bates on technical fall in the Round of 32, pinned both No. 17 Wyoming’s Joseph Novak and No. 8 Oklahoma’s Stephen Buchanan in the Round of 16 and the Quarterfinals, respectively, and won his semifinal match against No. 12 Missouri’s Rocky Elam on technical fall.

He faced off against No. 2 NC State redshirt senior Trent Hidlay (28-0) in the Final. Brooks has a 3-0 record against Hidlay, who he has defeated at the past three NCAA Championships.

That record would extend this time around, as he defeated Hidlay on a 6-0 decision, thanks to a late first period takedown and great control throughout the match.

He is the seventh wrestler to win four National Titles and the second for Penn State wrestling alongside Starocci.

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