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Penn State Wrestling Notebook: What HC Cael Sanderson had to Say in Last PC Before Big Ten Tournament

Photo by Penn State Athletics: Cael Sanderson

It is usually pretty memorable when a crowd of over 6,000 collectively goes silent like it did in the final Penn State wrestling dual meet of the season against Edinboro.

Carter Starocci needed help getting off the mat after beating the Brody Evans by technical fall. Starocci had the technical fall wrapped up with back points, but got his leg twisted up while trying to pick up the pin.

PSU coach Cael Sanderson said Monday that Starocci’s in good spirits as the Penn State prepares for this weekend’s Big Ten Championships at the University of Maryland. Sanderson was non-committal on Starocci’s status for the weekend.

“It’s still search and destroy with him,” Sanderson said.

“It’s a day-to-day thing where he’s getting significantly better over time. As far as competing, we’ll put him in there if we feel like it’s in his best interest. Getting to nationals is No. 1.”

Starocci put out a post on X on Friday night, saying ‘A true champion can adapt to anything. You can either run from your adversity or face it head on and conquer it. There’s only one way in and one way out and I’m going that way. This game teaches you a lot and one thing I learned for sure is my mind is absolutely bullet proof.’

Sanderson said there was a good sign on the first day after the Feb. 25 dual meet when Starocci was in a lot of pain.

“We didn’t really know what it was, and he was in a lot of pain,” Sanderson said. “Usually that’s a good thing. With knees, if there’s no pain, that’s a concern.”

Starocci is 12-0 on the season and is seeking his third Big Ten championship if he competes this weekend. He also would be looking for his fourth national title in two weeks at the NCAA Tournament in Kansas City.

PENN STATE WRESTLING: THE RECRUITING PROCESS 

The perception around Penn State wrestling is the program now sells itself with how dominant it has been over the last decade.

 184-pounder Bernie Truax spent the first five years of his career at Cal Poly, where he was a 3-time All-American and a 2-time PAC-12 champion. Truax has mentioned multiple times over the season that coming to State College turned out better than he could have imagined, and it only took one visit for him to settle on Penn State.

“You see the room and you’re like, ‘Man, this is the place where I want to be.’ And that’s basically it,” Truax said.

Heavyweight Greg Kerkvliet said Ohio State was the first university he visited, but quickly realized PSU was where he was meant to be.

“I actually went to Ohio State first,” Kerkvliet said. “It just wasn’t necessarily the place for me. I visited here and I loved it. I feel like I wouldn’t be where I am now if I wasn’t here.”

HAS PENN STATE BEEN AT ITS BEST?

It’s getting pretty close to the time where wrestlers want to be competing at their best level.

At Penn State, the focus will always be winning at nationals, but the Big Ten Tournament is still important. Sanderson said he does not believe anyone has reached their peak yet this season.

“I think everybody has their eyes set on the bigger events at the end. I think our guys are just excited and ready to roll.”

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