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Penn State Wrestling: Keegan O’Toole Discusses Potential Championship Matchup With Friend Mitchell Mesenbrink

Photo by Penn State athletics: Mitchell Mesenbrink

One of the most intriguing possible matchups of this week’s NCAA Wrestling Championships in Kansas City is Mitchell  Mesenbrink of Penn State against Keegan O’Toole of Missouri.

Mesenbrink has been one of the best stories of Penn State’s season and is turning into one of the best anywhere in the sport.

The transfer from Cal-Baptist came to Penn State with one redshirt season and two college bouts under his belt. He’s won all 22 of his matches, the four most recent ones being in the Big Ten Championships earlier this months. Mesenbrink capped off that thrilling run with a thrilling come-from-behind win over top-seeded Dean Hamiti of Wisconsin.

The win inspired Big Ten Network play-by-play announcer Shane Sparks to utter the phrase “Mesenbrink Magic.”

Now, he’ll look to continue the magic carpet ride at 165 pounds on the grandest stage in college wrestling.

Like he was in the Big Ten Championships, Mesenbrink’s seeded second.

But unlike Big Tens, he’ll likely have to go through O’Toole to win it all. O’Toole is the two-time defending national champ at 165, and the favorite to do it again this season. He’s 82-3 in his career and 19-0 this season, rightfully being the top seed. If O’Toole and Mesenbrink had a limited or non-existent relationship, this would still be an interesting storyline.

An NCAA final between these two would put the veteran against a relative newcomer, a two-time champ against somebody looking for their first, not to mention the fact that Mesenbrink has quickly into a fan favorite at Penn State for his exciting, high-scoring style.

But these two happen to know each other quite well.

The two trained together at the Askern Academy in Hartland, Wisconsin, where they both grew up and attended Arrowhead High School.

Growing up, O’Toole’s coach was John Mesenbrink, Mitchell’s father.

John Mesenbrink wasn’t O’Toole’s high school coach, but is in the Wisconsin Wrestling Hall of Fame largely due to his coaching.

FloWrestling asked O’Toole about the possibility of wrestling for his third national title against a close friend.

“Yeah, we’ll see what happens,” he said. “But I mean it’s going to be weird. I mean, his dad, John Messenbrink, was my coach growing up and literally someone that I look up to.”

O’Toole knows who his old coach would be rooting for if this match takes place: the one from Penn State wrestling.

“He’s going to be cheering for his son, obviously, so if we were to wrestle, I wouldn’t expect anything less,” he said. “But, it’s just like, I wouldn’t be where I am without Mitchell and his dad. And so, like, we’re going to battle, but we’re going to be cordial, and we’re going to know that off the mat, I’m just, I’m still going to treat you like I do all the time. And I’m just super proud.

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