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Wrestling Preview: No. 1 Penn State at No. 13 Michigan

The Nittany Lions hit the road for the first time in this Big Ten season with a swing through the state of Michigan!

Scott Pilutik, Black Shoe Diaries

If people (read: haters) give Cael grief for bringing in transfer wrestlers like Max Dean and (now) Bernie Truax and Aaron Nagao, he’s got nothing on Sean Bormet.

It was only two years ago that Michigan won the Big Ten tournament and looked to try to challenge Penn State for the NCAA title, only to finish second by over 35 points; this was on the heels of transfers Patrick Brucki (Princeton), Kanen Storr (Iowa State), and of course, Nick Suriano (Rutgers and Penn State). But that year had nothing on this.

A trio of Northwestern wrestlers transferred to University of Michigan over the summer in Michael DeAugustino, Chris Cannon, and Lucas Davison; they joined former national champion and Stanford Cardinal Shane Griffith. Then, in December, former Wisconsin Badger and ISU Cyclone Austin Gomez transferred to Bormet’s program. All five are graduate transfers with likely only one year of eligibility to compete for the Wolverines (though Cannon isn’t in the lineup as of publishing), which means it’s this year or never for these wrestlers to try for a team title; their additions have seen Michigan climb up the wrestling rankings, and I expect they’ll climb even more.

Will it be enough to catch Penn State? Not likely. The journey for a third team title in a row continues for the Nittany Lions with by far their toughest test on the season - a test that even wrestlestat thinks will end with nine PSU victories.

How To Watch

What: #1 Penn State vs #13 Michigan*

Where: Cliff Keen Arena, Ann Arbor, MI

When: Friday, January 19, 6:00 PM EST

Audio: Free (via GoPSUSports)

Video: Big Ten Network


#1 Penn State WT #13 Michigan
#1 Penn State WT #13 Michigan
#14 - Braeden Davis (Fr., Belleville, MI) 125 #5 - Michael DeAugustino (Gr., Palm Coast, FL)
#4 - Aaron Nagao (So., La Habra, CA) 133 #6 - Dylan Ragusin (Jr., Elk Village, IL)
#2 - Beau Bartlett (Sr., Tempe, AZ) 141 #25 - Sergio Lemley (Fr., Chesterton, IN)
#12 - Tyler Kasak (Fr., Doylestown, PA) 149 #6 - Austin Gomez (Gr., Carol Stream, IL)
#1 - Levi Haines (So., Arendtsville, PA) 157 #9 - Will Lewan (Gr., Chicago, IL)
#9 - Mitchell Mesenbrink (Fr., Hartland, WI) 165 #7 - Cameron Amine (Sr., Brighton, MI)
#1 - Carter Starocci (Sr., Erie, PA) 174 #4 - Shane Griffith (Gr., Westwood, NJ)
#5 - Bernie Truax (Gr., Oceanside, CA) 184 #15 - Jaden Bullock (Jr., Chesapeake, VA)
#1 - Aaron Brooks (Sr., Hagerstown, MD) 197 #32 - Bobby Striggow (Gr., Orono, MN)
#1 - Greg Kerkvliet (Sr., Grove Heights, MN) 285 #4 - Lucas Davison (Gr., Chesterton, IN)

125 LBS

This is by far Braeden Davis’ toughest test on the season; DeAugustino is an All-American and four-time NCAA qualifier. In a vacuum, or even at Penn State, I could see Davis win a lopsided decision, but it’ll be an incredibly hostile venue, kicking off a highly contested and emotional dual meet. If they meet again this season, I think Braeden gets the best of him, but I bet DeAugustino wins this one, by one or two, by virtue of his extensive experience.

Prediction: DeAugustino by decision

Score: PSU 0, UM 3

133 LBS

Dylan Ragusin never took out Roman Bravo Young, and Aaron Nagao isn’t yet RBY (though he did put up a good fight last year); that’s not going to help him much this week. Ragusin won’t be able to take advantage of the quick start of his compatriot but will be within a takedown late, with the Nittany Lion prevailing.

Prediction: Nagao by decision

Score: PSU 3, UM 3

141 LBS

Beau’s been steady this year if not as explosive as we’d all hoped he might be - and his cool-as-a-cucumber attitude will no doubt help him in this bout. Similar to Sunday, he’ll let Lemley feel within striking distance for a bit before putting it away in the third.

Prediction: Bartlett by decision

Score: PSU 6, UM 3

149 LBS

Gomez is coming back to the Big Ten after last year’s injuries didn’t allow him to repeat as the Big Ten tournament champion, but this time in a Wolverine singlet after getting a medical waiver for this year’s eligibility from the NCAA. Similar to 125, I truly think Gomez’s experience wins out here, with true freshman PSUer Kasak learning quite a bit from this bout that will take him far in March.

Prediction: Gomez by decision

Score: PSU 6, UM 6

157 LBS

The trip out west a few weeks ago was a wake-up call for Levi, and he’ll continue to be a monster here on out. I appreciate that Will Lewan is a good wrestler with a lot of experience, but Haines will quickly silence any doubters that remain and I expect will be pushing to end the bout early in the third.

Prediction: Haines by major decision

Score: PSU 10, UM 6

165 LBS

I’ve seen nothing that convinces me that Mitchell Mesenbrink can’t compete for a title this year; he combines Bartlett’s joy on the mat with the relentlessness of Carter Starocci. Beating the last Amine in a UM singlet, as handily as I expect him to, will boost Psycho’s standings quite a bit.

Prediction: Mesenbrink by decision

Score: PSU 13, UM 6

174 LBS

Shane Griffith’s road to a national title, in a blank singlet to protest the then-decision of Stanford to cut wrestling, was one of the great storylines of the 2021 NCAA championships. Since then, he made the finals in 2022 (falling to Keegan O’Toole) and was an All-American again in 2023; but he’s up against a certified force of nature in Carter Starocci, who majored #2 Mekhi Lewis in an exhibition earlier this year. Starocci wore Michael Myers/Halloween socks last week, which means nothing in the context of this preview but is something I had to include.

Prediction: Carter by major decision

Score: PSU 17, UM 6

184 LBS

The rumors are that Bernie was sick last week which is why Josh Barr made his (very impressive) Penn State dual debut last week. He should be healed up and faces a good challenge in Bullock this week; I expect the Wolverine to keep it close through the third, with Truax’s conditioning willing out in the end.

Prediction: Truax by decision

Score: PSU 20, UM 6

197 LBS

Michigan’s Striggow is ranked for now, the lowest of their ten ranked starters. But he’s facing legitimate Olympic team contender Aaron Brooks, who likely won’t break a sweat. I don’t think this gets out of the second period.

Prediction: AB by tech fall

Score: PSU 26, UM 6

285 LBS

It’s been a few years since Davison and Greg Kerkvliet met on the mat, with the Nittany Lion coming out on top in a close decision. Davison is a good wrestler, but Kerk is on another level this year and hasn’t yet been out of control on the mat. I don’t expect that to change in this bout.

Prediction: Kerk by decision

Score: PSU 29, UM 6

Overall score prediction: Penn State 29, Michigan 6

*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; Michigan is #5 in the Tournament Rankings, and #13 in the Dual Meet Rankings.

Penn State Wrestling

Wrestling Dual Season Postview: Penn State finishes a 4th straight season undefeated by shutting out Edinboro, 55-0.

MMQB - 5+7

Penn State Hockey

No. 6 Wisconsin 3, Penn State 2: Badgers Sink Lions in OT