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Penn State Wrestling

Stine: A Way-too-Early Look at Next Season’s Penn State Wrestling Lineup

Photo by Penn State Athletics: Levi Haines

We’re just a few days removed from the NCAA Championships, and this is a way-too-early look at next season’s Penn State wrestling lineup. But at this point of the year, it’s fun to think about this kind of thing.

Here’s an early look at what Cael Sanderson’s regulars could look like.

125 – Braeden Davis: It’s been a long time since the PSU had a formidable 125-pounder, but Davis gave it the first signs of longevity in quite some time. Drew Hildebrandt was a former All-American that joined Penn State for the second half of the 2021-22 season, but he was only there for a short time. Davis looks like he could be the guy for the next three years, and a trip to the nationals podium was only one match away this past weekend.

133 – Aaron Nagao: The sophomore had a roller coaster of a season after transferring in from Minnesota after an All-American freshman campaign. But still, like Davis, he finished just one bout short of being an All-American for the second time. You also have to remember Nagao was injured in the early part of the season and his offseason was cut short. Was that a factor for the season? Who knows?

141 – Beau Bartlett or Tyler Kasak: Judging from his Instagram post shortly after nationals, it sounds like Bartlett’s coming back for another season.

It’s easy to see why after finishing as a runner-up to Ohio State’s Jesse Mendez. Mendez is only a sophomore, so it could be easy to see Bartlett and Mendez on a collision course to the national final next season.

149 – Shayne Van Ness: Van Ness was injured shortly after the NWCA All-Star Classic, and backup Tyler Kasak stepped in and finished in third place at nationals. If Bartlett comes back at 141, this is the best problem to have with two very capable starters at 149. Van Ness will be the guy again next season, though, and he will have a legitimate shot at the top of the podium.

157 – Levi Haines: This is a no-brainer. Haines has lost one match so far in his first two years in a PSU singlet, and that was in the national final as a true freshman. He’s coming off his first national championship, and he has two years of eligibility remaining. Say no more.

165 – Mitchell Mesenbrink: Ditto from Haines. Mesenbrink had a fantastic freshman season. He was a Big Ten champion, and he was one point shy of a possible national title. He has three years of eligibility, so it’s again a no-brainer.

174 – Transfer portal/outside shot of Carter Starocci: Yes, Starocci still has one more year of eligibility, but there’s probably not much reason to come back. And how do you replace someone that’s been at the top of the weight class for four years? The upperweights may be where Cael Sanderson and Penn State look to add in the transfer portal.

184 – Josh Barr: Bringing in Bernie Truax from Cal Poly last year was fantastic for everyone. Truax to finish out his career at a place like Penn State wrestling with a fifth-place finish at nationals, and for someone like Barr to spend a year to develop. Starocci liked to mention Barr’s name when talking about the next wave of stars PSU has coming, and we should probably listen to what Starocci has to say on that subject.

197 – Lucas Cochran/AJ Fricchione/Transfer Portal: Cochran had a major upset at heavyweight this season while filling in for Greg Kerkvliet in the Bryce Jordan Center dual meet against Rutgers’ Yara Slavikouski. That was impressive when Cochran was a really undersized heavyweight. Fricchione also had a crack at heavyweight, but is also listed as a 197-pounder. Both could potentially fill in a spot for one of the greatest to ever do it in Aaron Brooks.

285 – Greg Kerkvliet/Cole Mirasola/Transfer Portal: Kerkvliet didn’t completely close the book on coming back another year. It would be understandable if he wants a shot at another national championship before he leaves Penn State wrestling. But if Kerkvliet does decide that he’s had enough, it sure would be interesting to throw a true freshman into the fire in Mirasola. Cole Mirasola and his brother, Connor, are both heralded recruits from Wisconsin coming to State College next season.

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