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‘We Just Wrestle’: Aaron Brooks Guiding Younger Penn State Wrestlers In Final Season

One of the greatest wrestlers to grace Penn State wrestling over the last decade, three-time national champion Aaron Brooks, is nearing the end of his final season representing the blue and white.

Over his five years wrestling for the Nittany Lions, Brooks has amassed a 77-3 record with three Big Ten championships and four All-American honors. This season, Brooks aims to become the sixth wrestler in collegiate history to win four national titles, and he would be the first in school history.

Now, as the wrestler enters the latter half of his final season of collegiate wrestling, Brooks plans to remain present and continue improving physically and mentally.

Last season, Brooks often mentioned how he attributed his successes to being present and wrestling in the moment, a priority that remains of high importance to him.

“Things come and go, and I am still on that track,” Brooks said Tuesday. “The plan is to get a little better at it and keep controlling my thoughts.”

With his focus still deadlocked on self-improvement, Brooks isn’t worried about the top-ranked dual looming Friday against Iowa. Despite routinely gaining success as two of the best teams in college wrestling, Brooks doesn’t consider the matchup a rivalry even though he’ll be competing against the Hawkeyes for the last time.

“[This weekend] will be my third time going there, but I never really bought into the rivalry stuff. There’s plenty of strong teams in the Big Ten,” Brooks said. “I’ve never looked at [Iowa] as our rival. I don’t look at anyone as our rival. We just wrestle.”

As one of the veterans of the Lorenzo Wrestling Complex, Brooks is happy to fall into a mentorship role as an older Nittany Lion on the team. In particular, Brooks spoke highly of teammates Bernie Truax and Mitchell Mesenbrink, inspired by their tremendous seasons up to this point.

“[Truax] can definitely be an NCAA champion, but like I’ve said, it all comes down to whose present when the time comes, when you get to that final stretch,” Brooks said. “We know crazy things happen in wrestling all the time. It’s about who stays present. We know he is 100% world-class. He just has to keep his mind controlled.”

“Mitchell, for one, is curious. He loves asking questions. In our circle, he’ll ask like five questions. I think that’s what makes him great,” Brooks continued.

Brooks’ proudest advice was the direction he gave to Mesenbrink that the fifth-year Nittany Lion still works to achieve on the mat every day.

“I told him when he first came in, ‘Don’t feel like you have to exceed expectations. There are no expectations in wrestling,'” Brooks said. “Instead, you really just need to go out there and be present. Just wrestle.”

With the Big Ten dual season nearing its end and tournament season right behind it, Brooks strives to remain present as he hopes for history to repeat itself for a fourth time.

The Nittany Lions will be in action against the Iowa Hawkeyes in Iowa City on Friday, February 9. The dual will begin at 9 p.m. and be broadcast on the Big Ten Network.

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About the Author

Brendan Wagner

Brendan is a Junior majoring in print and media journalism. Born in Pittsburgh, he now lives in Mooresville, North Carolina. As a die-hard Pittsburgh sports fan, you can find him on Twitter, @brchwags, often complaining about the Pittsburgh Steelers and Matt Canada

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