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Four-Time National Champion Carter Starocci Announces Return To Penn State Wrestling For Final Year

Carter Starocci is seeking to make history.

Four-time national champion and 174-pound Penn State wrestler Starocci announced he will return to Rec Hall for his final year of eligibility Wednesday night.

The choice to opt into his final year of eligibility is highlighted by the chance to be the first collegiate wrestler to clinch five national championships.

“Even though this season ended with me on top of the podium, I was not satisfied,” Starocci wrote. “I’m here to take over. With one year of eligibility left, I want to end my collegiate career on my terms. Healthy, in style, and in a dominant fashion. With this in mind, I’m excited to announced that I will be returning to Penn State to bring another national title to State College, Pennsylvania.”

In the 2023-24 season, Starocci was slated to earn his fourth national and third conference title, and after a 9-0 start to the campaign, he suffered a leg injury in the Nittany Lions’ final dual meet of the regular season against Edinboro.

It was unclear if Starocci would compete in the Big Ten Championships, but the 174-pound wrestler took two medical forfeits in his scheduled matches in the conference championships.

After medically forfeiting his chance at a Big Ten Championship, Starocci alluded to a “new chapter” in a March 10 tweet.

The next day, though, Starocci confirmed his health and announced he’d vie for his fourth national title at the NCAA Championships in Kansas City, Missouri, the following week. Starocci revealed head coach Cael Sanderson chose for Starocci to forfeit the conference championships, and the tweet was sent in a “frustrating” moment.

“It was frustrating, but looking back on it, I think it’s a blessing to have [Sanderson who] really cares about me just not as a wrestler but also as a person,” Starocci said in March following the Big Ten Championships. “[Sanderson] is in a lose-lose situation. He puts me out there, and he ends up second-guessing himself or he doesn’t, and I’m getting pissed at him.”

“I mean at the end of the day, [Sanderson] is the boss man. I work for him. So whatever he decides, that’s what I’m going to roll with,” Starocci continued.

Starocci received an at-large big to the NCAA Championships and a No. 9-seed designation. The Nittany Lion shared he was “fully healthy” the week leading up to the national competition and went on to clinch his fourth NCAA title with a 2-0 victory over Ohio State’s No. 6-seeded Rocco Welsh in the final bout.

Following the conclusion of the regular season, Starocci competed for a spot on the United States’ Olympic freestyle wrestling team at the U.S. Olympic Trials at the Bryce Jordan Center but fell short of a trip to Paris with a 6-4 loss to former NC State wrestler Trent Hidlay in the opening session.

Starocci became the first Penn State wrestler to claim four national titles alongside Aaron Brooks at the 2024 NCAA Championships and has the opportunity to become the first collegiate wrestler to clinch the honor five times.

“Build a legacy that won’t be touched EVER,” Starocci wrote on Twitter. “Penn State, Stand Up. Onward and Upward.”

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About the Author

Keeley Lamm

Keeley is a junior journalism major from Richmond, Virginia, and is Onward State's managing editor. She also talks about awesome stuff on our podcast, Podward State. Keeley is a lover of grilled cheese and Kevin Jonas. If you'd like to share your thoughts on the superior Jonas Brother, feel free to contact her on Twitter @keeleylammm or send your best joke to her email [email protected].

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