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Penn State Wrestling’s Way Too Early Lineup Predictions

With another season in the books capped off by the Penn State wrestling’s 11th national title in the last 13 years, it’s time to say goodbye to some familiar faces in the starting lineup.

While Bernie Truax and Aaron Brooks have used all of their possible eligibility, Beau Bartlett, Carter Starocci, and Greg Kerkvliet each have one more year left if they choose to use it. Those decisions, though, have yet to be announced.

With that said, here are our way too early predictions on the 2024-2025 Penn State starting lineup.

125 Pounds: Braeden Davis

Despite an unfortunate finish and missing on All-American status, Braeden Davis is a sure lock to regain his spot at 125 pounds. The defending Big Ten champion shocked the division and the country with season-long dominance, coming into the NCAA Championships as the No. 1 seed.

133 Pounds: Aaron Nagao

Although he failed to make much of a splash at the national tournament, I expect Aaron Nagao to be given the reins at 133 pounds again. Now with plenty of regular season and tournament experience, Nagao’s second year wrestling for the blue and white could be one to look out for.

141 Pounds: Beau Bartlett

In the first instance of a wrestler with an available bonus year, expect Bartlett to return to the Nittany Lions for his fifth season. Finishing runner-up in both the Big Ten and NCAA Championships to Ohio State’s Jesse Mendez is bound to brew a fifth-year revenge tour for Bartlett.

149 Pounds: Shayne Van Ness & Tyler Kasak

The first of head coach Cael Sanderson’s big offseason decisions lies at 149 pounds. After All-American Shayne Van Ness was ruled out before the beginning of the season with an injury, true freshman Tyler Kasak stepped in and didn’t disappoint, finishing third at the NCAA Championships with All-American status. A handful of wrestle-offs and hard conversations behind closed doors will lead to a permanent starter. However, at this moment, it’s anyone’s spot.

157 Pounds: Levi Haines

As the first returning national champion in the lineup, Levi Haines should have no problem picking up right where he left off as he searches to go for his second title.

165 Pounds: Mitchell Mesenbrink

Another no-brainer for Sanderson, Mesenbrink’s relentless pace and offensive firepower left him on the brink of victory in this past NCAA Championships. However, the young wrestler has all the tools to be one of the Nittany Lions’ next great athletes, keeping him in the starting lineup.

174 Pounds: Alex Facundo

If you began following Penn State wrestling this past year, you may not know who Alex Facundo is, however, expect to see his hand raised many times next season. After taking an Olympic redshirt year, qualifying for the Olympic Trials, and taking home the freestyle gold medal at the 2024 Pan-American games at 79 kilograms, Facundo will return to collegiate wrestling with massive experience under his belt, thus setting him up for success.

Despite the opportunity to return for his fifth national title, I expect Starocci to move on to the international circuit.

184 Pounds: Josh Barr

Josh Barr, a four-time Michigan State champion with a combined record of 125-1, has been waiting patiently for his time to step out. Despite getting a few matches here and there this past season, Barr will be poised to take advantage of his first real opportunity in the blue and white in 2024.

197 Pounds: Lucas Cochran & Connor Mirasola

Lucas Cochran, who usually wrestles in the 184-197 range, stepped up last year on some occasions for Kerkvliet at heavyweight, though slotting him at 197 is much more natural for the wrestler. I expect some competition for the spot between Cochran and Connor Mirasola, a four-time Wisconsin state champion and a signed recruit in the 2024 class. Connor Mirasola wrestled in the 190-pound weight class for his senior year of high school, putting him in range of the 197-pound weight class. After last year’s lineup included two true freshmen, it’s not out of the realm of possibility to see that trend continue.

Heavyweight: Cole Mirasola & AJ Fricchione

Behind Kerkvliet, the heavyweight spot in the lineup isn’t as deep as it is at other weights, and this is where I expect true freshman Cole Mirasola to step in. A three-time Wisconsin state champ, Mirasola has the ability to make an immediate impact in the lineup along with his twin brother Connor. On the other hand, Fricchione is the only other heavyweight wrestler listed on the roster outside of Kerkvliet, and he has yet to have much of a chance to wrestle for the Nittany Lions.

Similar to Starocci, I expect Kerkvliet to forgo his final year of eligibility.

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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 probably Russell Wilson.

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