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Penn State Wrestling Rankings: PSU has a new No. 1

Photo by Penn State Athletics

Having competitors ranked No. 1 in their weight class is hardly anything new for Penn State wrestling.

But Braeden Davis hadn’t been there before.

Now, he’s there.

After somewhat of a Cinderella run to the Big Ten championship at 125 as a No. 6 seed, Davis is now the top-ranked wrestler at that weight class per Intermat’s latest rankings.

Davis went 4-0 in College Park, Maryland over this weekend, upsetting third-seeded Eric Barnett of Wisconsin in sudden victory during the quarterfinals. In the semis, he held off seventh-seeded Michael DeAugustino of Michigan in sudden victory. Finally, he upset fourth-seeded Patrick McKee of Minnesota in the finals, punctuating an  8-1 win with an emphatic takedown.

Here are some other takeaways from InterMat’s latest batch of rankings.

PENN STATE WRESTLING: AARON NAGAO RETURNS TO TOP 10

This season hasn’t been easy for Nagao. For starters, he had the task of succeeding two-time national champion Roman Bravo-Young as Penn State’s 133-pounder. He’s also battled injury and illness throughout the season and ended up finishing the regular season 11-4. Coach Cael Sanderson hinted in February that Nagao’s best wrestling was coming in March, and so far, it looks like Cael was right. Although Nagao didn’t make a return trip to the Big Ten finals, losing in the semis to top-seeded Dylan Ragusin of Michigan, he won his other three matches— one by tech fall, another by pin— and finished third. Look out for him next week in Kansas City.

PENN STATE WRESTLING: BEAU (SLIGHTLY) DROPS

When Penn State’s Beau Bartlett and Ohio State’s Jesse Mendez meet on the mat, it could go either way. When the two wrestled last month in the dual meet at Rec Hall, Bartlett won in sudden victory. In the Big Ten finals, it was Mendez’s time, and he won 4-1, finishing it off with a takedown in the final seconds. It’s likely that the three best 141-pounders in the country with Bartlett, Mendez and Iowa’s Real Woods all in the national title picture. Bartlett has wins over both of those guys, so even with this past weekend’s setback, there’s no reason to think he can’t win his first national title next week.

PENN STATE WRESTLING: ANOTHER FRESHMAN MOVES

Davis has unquestionably been Penn State’s Rookie of the Year. But at 149, Tyler Kasak hasn’t been a slouch, either. His Big Ten tournament started with a pin and ended with a pin. Although Kasak fell to Nebraska’s Ridge Lovett in the semifinals, considering he’s the No. 1 wrestler in the country at 149, there’s no shame in that. Kasak’s performance was impressive enough for InterMat to move him up from No. 9 to No. 7. He’s had a compelling story, especially considering he wasn’t supposed to factor into Penn State’s lineup. All-American Shayne Van Ness, who started the year ranked No. 2 at 149, was supposed to be the man. But a season-ending injury altered that plan, and Penn State needed somebody to step up. It was between Kasak and Dylan Evans, and Kasak won out. He hasn’t disappointed Sanderson or anyone else.

PENN STATE WRESTLING: ‘MESENBRINK MAGIC’

The team has already sealed the Big Ten championship.

Then, the most dramatic match of the weekend took place.

Second-seeded Mitchell Mesenbrink trailed No. 1 and defending Big Ten champion Dean Hamiti of Wisconsin 9-2. He ended up winning 13-11. The Cal-Baptist transfer came into this season with two college matches under his belt. Now, he’s firmly established as one of Penn State’s heavy hitters.

Toward the end of the win, Big Ten Network play-by-play announcer Shane Spark referred to the comeback as “Mesenbrink Magic.”

Mesenbrink has moved from No. 5 to No. 2.

BERNIE CRACKS THE TOP 5

It wasn’t much of a movement, but Bernie Truax moved up one spot from No. 6 to No. 5. This was after an impressive Big Ten tournament where he avenged a regular-season loss to Nebraska’s Lenny Pinto in the semifinals, then took top-seeded Isaiah Salazar of Minnesota to sudden victory in the championship match before falling. Now, he’s going to the NCAAs, where he’s been an All-American three times.

THOSE WHO STAYED

Levi Haines (157), Carter Starocci (174), Aaron Brooks (197) and Greg Kerkvliet (heavyweight) are still No. 1.

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