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Penn State Wrestling

Penn State Wrestling Crowns 4 National Champions, Sets NCAA Records for Points, Margin of Victory

Photo by Penn State Athletics: Levi Haines

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Penn State wrestling capped off an incredible season with four national champions Saturday night at the T-Mobile Center.

Penn State, which finished in first place collectively, had individual national champions in No. 1 Levi Haines at 157 pounds, No. 9 Carter Starocci at 174 pounds, No. 1 Aaron Brooks at 197 pounds and No. 1 senior Greg Kerkvliet at 285 pounds. It’s the most National Champions for the Penn State since it had five in 2022, which tied for the team record.

As a team, Penn State broke the national record for points (172.5) and margin of victory (100) at the NCAA Championships.

Starocci (17-2) and Brooks (22-0) highlighted the evening by winning their fourth national titles, becoming the sixth and seventh wrestlers ever to achieve the feat. Starocci is also just the second wrestler to win four national titles at the same weight, joining Pat Smith of Oklahoma State, who did so at 158 pounds from 1990-92 and 1994.

No. 6 Rocco Welsh of Ohio State (26-4) served as Starocci’s opponent in the final. Starocci beat Welsh in a 4-2 decision 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.

Brooks took on No. 2 Trent Hidlay of NC State (28-1) in the final. Brooks had a 3-0 record against Hidlay, who he had defeated at the previous three NCAA Championships.

A late first-period takedown and great control throughout the match helped Brooks win the title, continuing his dominance over Hidlay.

Kerkvliet and Haines won their first national titles in their fourth and second years of collegiate wrestling, respectively.

No. 10 Michigan graduate student Lucas Davison (22-4) battled Kekrvliet 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.

Haines faced No. 2 Jacori Teemer of Arizona State (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 with a 5-0 decision after riding time.

Haines is the first national champion at 157 pounds for Penn State wrestling since Jason Nolf, who won three straight national titles  from 2017-19.

Two Penn State wrestlers lost their final matches in No. 2 Beau Bartlett at 141 pounds and No. 2 Mitchell Mesenbrink at 165 pounds.

Bartlett (23-2) took on No. 1 Ohio State sophomore Jesse Mendez (30-2) in the Final looking for his first national title. He 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 late takedown, but Mendez managed to snake out of it and won the match on a 4-1 decision.

Mesenbrink (26-1) faced No. 4 Iowa State senior David Carr (27-2) 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.


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