Wrestling is back! And because of some re-zoning of Rec Hall, there’s opportunities for new season ticket holders, like yours truly, and I couldn’t be more excited.
There’s more unknowns this season than last, with Nick Lee leaving the lineup after his second consecutive national title. But that doesn’t mean there are NO knowns - the Nittany Lions are returning four national title winners from last year’s team to the lineup in two time champs Roman Bravo-Young, Carter Starocci, and Aaron Brooks, and last year’s champ at 197 Max Dean. PSU also returns presumptive title contender Greg Kerkvliet, whose path to the finals is much clearer this year due to his own prowess and the exhaustion of eligibility of Hodge Trophy winner Gable Steveson (and, to a lesser degree, Tony Cassioppi).
Aside from those five, who barring something unforeseen will all be wrestling on Saturday night in Tulsa next March, there are a ton of question marks. Robert Howard isn’t listed as back int he lineup yet, though he’s likely taking it easy until when it really matters, in the next semester. ed note: I should really read JP’s posts before writing my own, because it was announced that Howard likely will be out all season.
There’s also the middle weights - while they’re not appearing on the prematch notes released by Penn State, keep an eye out for freshman Levi Haines and sophomore Matt Lee (the youngest PSU Lee brother) to fight for a spot in the dual meet lineup.
The wrestling season is a marathon, not a sprint, and this is just the first leg! Happy wrestling season to all who celebrate!
How To Watch
What: #1 Penn State vs Lock Haven*
Where: Rec Hall, University Park, PA
When: Friday, November 11, 7 pm
Audio: Free, via GoPSUSports
|#1 Penn State||WT||Lock Haven|
|#1 Penn State||WT||Lock Haven|
|Gary Steen (Fr., Hermitage, PA) OR Timothy Levine (So., Costa Mesa, CA)||125||#13 - Anthony Noto (So., Lima, NY) OR Matt Maloney (Sr., Bethlehem, PA)|
|#1 - Roman Bravo-Young (Sr., Tucson, AZ)||133||Gable Strickland (So., Benton, PA)|
|#16 - Beau Bartlett (Jr., Tempe, AZ)||141||Ty Linsenbigler (Fr., Landisville, PA)|
|#27 - Shayne Van Ness (Fr., Somerville, NJ)||149||Connor Eck (So., Bensalem, PA) OR Nick Stonecheck (So., Alpharetta, GA)|
|Terrell Barraclough (So., Kaysville, UT)||157||#20 - Ashton Eyler (Sr., MIllersburgh, OH) OR JT Hogan (Fr., Douglassville, PA)|
|#23 - Alex Facundo (Fr., Essexville, MI) OR Joe Lee (Jr., Evansville, IN)||165||Aiden Gaugler (Fr., Shamokin Dam, PA)|
|#1 - Carter Starocci (Jr., Erie, PA)||174||Tyler Stoltzfus (So., Mifflinburg, PA)|
|#1 - Aaron Brooks (Sr., Hagerstown, MD)||184||Colin Fegley (Jr., Mahanoy, PA)|
|#1 - Max Dean (Sr., Lowell, MI)||197||Brad Morrison (Fr., Landisburg, PA)|
|#2 - Greg Kerkvliet (So., Grove Heights, MN)||285||Ethan MIller (Fr., York, PA)|
Lock Haven’s presumed starter at this weight had quite a freshman year last year, beating PSU’s Drew Hildebrandt in SV in the first round before losing to eventual champ Nick Suriano in the second (he won his conference at this weight). If Noto is the one who wrestles, I expect this won’t be close in anything but the score; if for some reason he’s not the Bald Eagle to go, I think PSU wins this weight.
Prediction: Noto by decision
Score: PSU 0, Lock Haven 3
There’s a chance that RBY takes it easy this year and doesn’t go for all the duals. I don’t think this is one he misses, considering it’s the first dual of the year in his last year in a PSU singlet, and I also don’t think this will last the first 7 minutes.
Prediction: RBY by tech fall
Score: PSU 5, Lock Haven 3
I’m really interested to see how Beau Bartlett does at his more natural weight, rather than an undersized 149er in a stacked weight class led by one of the best wrestlers in the world in Yianni Diakomihalis. I think he’ll make the most of this one.
Prediction: Bartlett by major decision
Score: PSU 9, Lock Haven 3
The Shayne Van Ness era begins! Will it start with a bang? I bet the final score won’t indicate how one-sided the match feels.
Prediction: Van Ness by decision
Score: PSU 12, Lock Haven 3
In limited time last season, Barraclough looked pretty decent. I think he starts off the season strong, with a decided victory over potentially a ranked wrestler, but I don’t anticipate he’ll be the starter by the end of the season.
Prediction: Terrell by decision
Score: PSU 15, Lock Haven 3
Another one where I anticipate who we see tonight isn’t who we’ll see in Tulsa in March. I”m also not even sure who we’ll see today - Alex Facundo has looked good wrestling unattached so far in his PSU career and is ranked preseason. Joe Lee got as high as top fifteen in the 2020-2021 season before seeing himself get surpassed in the lineup - but his flashes of greatness were there. I do think that whomever we see get the nod tonight will win handily, with bonus.
Prediction: PSU wrestler by major decision
Score: PSU 19, Lock Haven 3
Starocci made marked strides between his freshman title-winning season and his sophomore title-winning season, and, oh yea, he won it all last year with a broken hand. Be afraid, field of 174ers.
Prediction: Carter by pin
Score: PSU 25, Lock Haven 3
Brooks’s last season should be a swan song. I waffled between choosing five or six points for the senior from Hagerstown, but ultimately went big.
Prediction: AB by pin
Score: PSU 31, Lock Haven 3
Dean had some close calls last season but his will and desire to win ultimately prevailed. Now that he’s got less to prove, down the stretch I expect he wrestles looser and with more fun, but archery season opens tonight.
Prediction: Dean by major decision
Score: PSU 35, Lock Haven 3
I’m still bitter about the way that last match in Carver Hawkeye ended last season, and the seeding repercussions of it. I firmly believe that Kerk at full strength would have been the closest any wrestler would get to Gable Steveson, and I can’t wait until he takes down Cohlton Schultz handily.
Prediction: Kerk by pin
Score: PSU 41, Lock Haven 3
Overall score prediction: PSU 41, Lock Haven 3
*The Penn State athletic department, in its official capacity, uses Intermat Tournament Rankings in all its match literature; I’m using Intermat’s Dual Meet rankings because this happens to be a dual. Penn State is #1 in both rankings, and Lock Haven is unranked in both.