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Penn State Wrestling Sees Mixed Results In Session I Of U.S. Olympic Trials

With the opening session of the 2024 U.S. Olympic trials beginning at 10 a.m. Friday morning, current and former Penn State wrestlers and Nittany Lion Wrestling Club (NLWC) members all took to the mat vying for just six spots and a chance to compete in the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Throughout the first session, the combined record of those wrestlers was 15-15 with Nick Lee, Thomas Gilman, Aaron Brooks, Mitchell Mesenbrink, Jason Nolf, Greg Kerkvliet, Zane Retherford, David Taylor, and Kyle Dake all maintaining their standing in the championship bracket.

How It Happened

65 Kilograms – Beau Bartlett

Kicking off the action for Penn State was No. 5 Beau Bartlett (NLWC) taking on No. 12 Nashon Garrett of Lehigh Valley WC. A mixture of offense in the first period from both wrestlers created a high-paced back-and-forth first period, with Bartlett coming out on top 7-5 after the first three minutes. Continued pressure from Bartlett led by two back points secured the Nittany Lion the 10-6 win in the first round over Garrett.

Staring off second-round action, No. 5 Bartlett battled against No. 4 Andrew Alirez of Titan Mercury WC. After staring in front 2-0 to begin the first, Alirez responded and tied the bout 2-2 heading into the second period. Alirez continued his momentum by rolling Bartlett onto his back twice for four total points. Unable to respond, Bartlett fell 6-2 in the second round.

The first Nittany Lion to wrestle in the consolation bracket on the night, Bartlett squared off against No. 6 Joseph McKenna of Titan Mercury WC. No offense connected for Bartlett in the first period, trailing 2-0 heading into the second period. Despite coming back and taking the lead with a last-second takedown, McKenna’s corner successfully challenged the call, winning the match 3-2 and ending Bartlett’s weekend.

86 Kilograms – Connor Mirasola

Current Penn State commit No. 9 Connor Mirasola of Askren Wrestling Academy was the first of a handful of high school wrestlers to take the mat today, battling against No. 8 David McFadden of Titan Mercury WC. With a strong showing against the much older wrestler, a takedown and back points from Mirasola gave the 2025 commit the 4-0 win.

74 Kilograms – Levi Haines

In the first of what could be many Penn State vs. Penn State matchups, No. 10 Leiv Haines (NLWC) took on No. 9 Alex Facundo (NLWC). Two sets of back points and two takedowns from Facundo gave the defending Pan-American champion the 6-0 win over the defending NCAA national champion in the first interschool bout of the weekend.

In his first bout of the consolation bracket, Haines walked to the mat to compete against No. 8 Alex Marinelli of Hawkeye WC. In a bout full of back-and-forth action, Haines prevailed by a score of 11-7, moving further in the consolation bracket

86 Kilograms – Max Dean

The first Penn State alum to take the mat was No. 7 Max Dean (NLWC) battling against No. 10 Evan Wick of Titan Mercury WC. Dean couldn’t get any offense on the board, quickly falling 13-1 by technical superiority in the first period to Wick.

Dean wrestled next in the consolation bracket, taking on Mirasola. Quickly finding himself up 2-0, Dean extended his lead to 6-0 after the first three minutes. Dean kept the pedal down in the second period, winning 12-2 by technical superiority over Mirasola.

86 Kilograms – Carter Starocci

Four-time NCAA national champion No. 6 Carter Starocci (NLWC) faced off against No. 11 Patrick Downey of Stanford MMA to start his bracket run. Two quick backturns for Downey were thwarted by only one takedown from Starocci, facing a 4-1 deficit early in the first. Heading into the second period with the same score, Starocci secured a tight leg lock, rolling Downey onto his back three times to take the lead at 7-4 halfway through the second. A few more takedowns and back points from Starocci secured the 12-4 victory for the Nittany Lion.

In his second-round bout, Starocci walked to the mat to wrestle No. 3 Trent Hidlay of Titan Mercury WC. After some deadlocked wrestling in the first period, ending in a 1-1 tie, Starocci’s offensive efforts in the second weren’t enough to combat the outburst from Hidlay, and he dropped the bout 6-4.

74 Kilograms – Vincenzo Joseph

The next Penn State alum to take the mat was No. 7 Vincenzo Joseph of Sunkist Kids WC, who took on No. 11 Jarrett Jacques of Tiger Style WC. After starting the bout strong at 2-0, Joseph fell 6-6 on criteria, ending his bracket run.

Joseph didn’t show up to his consolation bout and lost by forfeit.

57 Kilograms – Luke Lilledahl

Another Penn State commit and current high schooler No. 9 Luke Lilledahl of X-Caliber Athletics WC took on Daniel DeShazer of Gopher WC. Despite trailing most of the match, a two-point swing in the waning seconds of the bout gave Lilledhal the 4-3 victory.

In his second bout of the day, Lilledahl took on No. 1 Zane Richards of Illini WC. After finding himself down 3-0 to start the second, Lilledahl secured the takedown to tighten the gap, trailing by only one point heading into the second three minutes of wrestling. After dropping another quick point to begin the second, Lilledahl fell 5-3 against Richards.

Wrestling in the consolation bracket, Lilledahl took on No. 7 Liam Cronin of Nebraska WTC. With not much action in the first period, Cronin took a 1-0 lead after the first three minutes, quickly matched by Lilledahl to start the second. The remainder of the second was a back-and-forth affair between the two wrestlers, and Lilledahl eventually won 2-2 off criteria to continue in the consolation bracket.

The next time folks see Lilledahl, he’ll be wearing blue and white.

65 Kilograms – Nick Lee

Penn State alum No. 1 Lee (NLWC) squared off against No. 9 Alec Pantaleo of Cliff Keen WC. Lee secured just one point on proximity in the first period, leading 1-0 heading into the short 30-second break. Lee quickly sprung into action to start the second, rolling Pantaleo three times for eight points to extend his lead to 9-0 with over half the period remaining. Two late points from Pantaleo weren’t enough to cover the deficit, and Lee won 9-2 in the first round.

86 Kilograms – Aaron Brooks

In a present vs. future style match, No. 1 Brooks (NLWC) took on incoming recruit Mirasola. After scoring first with a step out, Brooks took a quick 1-0 lead before Mirasola secured an opening takedown to take the lead back at 2-1. However, after that, it was all Brooks as the Nittany Lion wrestled for a handful of step-outs and takedowns to win his first bout of the day 11-5 over Mirasola.

86 Kilograms – Mark Hall

Penn State great No. 5 Mark Hall (NLWC) battled against No. 4 Alex Dieringer of Cliff Keen WC. After starting the bout on top, Hall allowed four unanswered points to drop the match 5-2.

Looking to avenge an early loss, Hall walked up to the mat only for his opponent to not show up, giving Hall the win by forfeit.

74 Kilograms – Alex Facundo

After defeating teammate Haines in his first bout, Facundo (NLWC) took on No. 1 Jordan Burroughs of Sunkist Kids WC. A back-and-forth first period ended in a 2-2 tie between the two wrestlers with three minutes left to wrestle. A step out and lost challenge from Facundo was his undoing, dropping his second-round bout 5-3 against a former gold medalist.

In the consolation bracket, Facundo wrestled against No. 11 Tyler Berger of Sunkist Kids WC. Finding himself down early, Facundo crawled back into the bout, tying up the score at 5-5 with just seconds to go but eventually lost the bout on criteria. Facundo is done for the weekend.

74 Kilograms – Mitchell Mesenbrink

In action simultaneously was No. 5 Mesenbrink (NLWC) battling against No. 13 Ladarion Lockett of Cowboy WC. Keeping up his relentless pace, Mesenbrink quickly shot out to an 8-1 lead after the first period, topping it off with another handful of points to take the 13-3 win by technical superiority.

74 Kilograms – Jason Nolf

Another Penn State great, No. 2 Nolf (NLWC) took to the mat for the first time on the weekend to wrestle against No. 8 Alex Marinelli of Hawkeye WC. In a similar fashion to Mesenbrink, Nolf opened the match with a flurry of offense to take a 7-0 lead after the first three minutes of action. Strong defense from Nolf allowed the alum to hold on for the 7-3 victory.

125 Kilograms – Greg Kerkvliet

In the first match of the quarterfinals, No. 3 Kerkvliet (NLWC) took on No. 6 Christian Lance of Sunkist Kids WC. After a roll and a quick 6-0 start to start the first period, Kerkvliet tacked on four more points to take the 10-0 technical superiority win to head into the semifinals.

57 Kilograms – Thomas Gilman

In the 57-kilogram quarterfinals, No. 2 Gilman (NLWC) took on high schooler No. 10 Jax Forrest. After a back-and-forth first period, Gilman came out on top 5-4 after three minutes of competition. No points were scored in the second period, and Gilman hung on to win over Forrest.

57 Kilograms – Nico Megaludis

In a highly anticipated match, No. 5 Nico Megaludis of Pitt WC battled against No. 4 Spencer Lee. All pistons were firing for Lee in the first period, coming out to an early 8-0 lead after the first three minutes. That score remained unchanged after the second three minutes of wrestling, and Megaludis dropped an 8-0 bout against Lee.

In the consolation bracket, Megaludis faced off against No. 11 Marcus Blaze of Perrysburg WC. Megaludis scored the only point of the first period, taking a narrow 1-0 lead into the second. Blaze staged a short comeback in the second, locking up the score at 2-2 to win over Megaludis by criteria.

What’s Next?

The Nittany Lions will be back in action for Session II later today starting at 6:30 p.m. All matches will be broadcast on Peacock and USA 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 probably Russell Wilson.

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