B1G Wrestling Power Rankings: Can Anyone Challenge Penn State Wrestling?

NittanyCentral is home for the latest Penn State Football, Penn State Wrestling, Penn State Basketball news, updates, and analysis of the Penn State Nittany Lions

NittanyCentral is home for the latest Penn State Football, Penn State Wrestling, Penn State Basketball news, updates, and analysis of the Penn State Nittany Lions

NittanyCentral is home for the latest Penn State Football, Penn State Wrestling, Penn State Basketball news, updates, and analysis of the Penn State Nittany Lions

The latest news, insight, and analysis of Penn State Football, Penn State Wrestling, and Penn State Basketball, including schedules, game results, analysis of breaking news, rumors, speculation, and recruiting coverage of future Penn State Nittany Lions

NittanyCentral is home to the latest Penn State Nittany Lions news, updates, insight, and analysis, including in-depth coverage of Penn State Football, Penn State Wrestling, Penn State Basketball, and much more

Big Ten Wrestling Power Rankings: Can Anyone Challenge Penn State Wrestling?

Penn State Wrestling and the rest of the Big Ten is headed towards the heart of the conference schedule, meaning it’s time for a power rankings update. In my early season Big Ten Wrestling Power Rankings, I shook up the pecking order considerably, when compared to how the teams fared in the prior year. Will the same ring true in the updated rankings? Let’s find out. All rankings listed are as of the latest InterMat rankings. 

Updated Big Ten Power Rankings for the 2023-2024 season

No. 14 Northwestern

Previous Rank: 13Dual Rank: NRRecord: 0-1Ranked Wrestlers: 3157 No. 14 Trevor Chumbley165 No. 18 Maxx Mayfield197 No. 29 Evan Bates In my preseason Big Ten Wrestling Power Rankings, I predicted that this year’s edition of the Wildcats would be “several steps below mediocre”. And based on the results they’ve seen so far on the mat, they’re doing a great job in backing up my prediction. Northwestern participated in the Michigan State Open, Lindenwood Open, CKLV, and Cleveland State Open to kick off the season. And outside of a handful of podium finishes in these tournaments, there wasn’t really a lot to write home about. Couple this with the fact that even though the Wildcats fielded 10 wrestlers in the CKLV, they still finished in 25th place with a measly 22.0 points. And to make matters worse, Northwestern dropped their only dual meet of the season as they fell 18-17 at the hands of Northern Illinois. So, yeah, not exactly great. The Wildcats will continue their lackluster year as they are next set to take part in the 2023 Midlands Championships on December 29th and 30th.

No. 13 Purdue

Previous Rank: 14Dual Rank: NRRecord: 4-3Ranked Wrestlers: 3125 No. 5 Matt Ramos141 No. 33 Greyson Clark157 No. 18 Joey Blaze The Boilermakers started the year off on the right foot with a narrow 21-16 win against Army in their opening dual meet of the season. But, the good feeling and high hopes were very short lived as Purdue had to face off against No. 7 NC State later that day. And all NC State did was metaphorically rip Purdue’s face off as they slapped the Boilermakers to the tune of 37-3. Purdue dusted themselves off and then toppled the University of Indianapolis (44-0) and Northern Illinois (22-13) in consecutive duals. In doing so, Purdue was able to do what Northwestern couldn’t, so there’s always that. The Boilermakers then traveled to Buies Creek, North Carolina, to participate in something called the Fighting Camels Duals. There Purdue fell to Stanford (13-24) and North Dakota State (17-22), but pulled out the win against Campbell (21-17). Next up for Purdue is a home dual against Lindenwood on January 3rd.

No. 12 Michigan State

Previous Rank: 12Dual Rank: NRRecord: 5-0Ranked Wrestlers: 4125 No. 32 Tristan Lujan157 No. 16 Chase Saldate165 No. 10 Caleb Fish184 No. 12 Layne Malczewski Along with three tournaments (Clarion Open, Michigan State Open, and Black Knight Invite), the Spartans have already seen action in five dual meets. And to their credit, they’ve taken care of business in each of these duals. But it’s not like Franklin & Marshall, Bloomsburg, Presbyterian, Buffalo, and Clarion are the cream of the crop when it comes to dual teams. And look, no disrespect towards any of these teams, however a Big Ten Wrestling program should beat any and all of them. Even a Big Ten team that is teetering on the edge of the basement. Michigan State has several competitive grapplers, but when the schedule turns to teams like Michigan, Rutgers, Penn State, and Ohio State, the number on the right-hand of the dash in their record is going to be anything other than “0”. Next up on the docket for the Spartans is a trip to Illinois where they are set to take part in the 2023 Midlands Championships.


No. 11 Wisconsin

Previous Rank: 10Dual Rank: 30Record: 4-1Ranked Wrestlers: 4125 No. 9 Eric Barnett149 No. 12 Joe Zargo165 No. 6 Dean Hamiti174 No. 26 Max Maylor Is this year’s version of the Wisconsin Badgers bad? No, they certainly aren’t a bad squad. But are they good? This is also going to be resounding “no” as the Badgers are far, far from a good team. Which is easy to explain as Garrett Model and Trent Hillger are out of eligibility, Braxton Amos is taking an Olympic redshirt, and All-American Austin Gomez transferred to Michigan. It’s actually surprising Wisconsin isn’t worse than what they are. But that’s a testament to the top tier talent they posses with the likes of Barnett, Zargo, and Hamiti. After facing Lindenwood, Bucknell, Rider, and Drexel, the Badgers were a perfect 4-0. And when Wisconsin faced Iowa State in mid-November, they were also perfect. Just in opposite. The Cyclones absolutely ran straight through the Badgers and the 42-0 beatdown was shocking to even the most casual of college wresting fans. But then again this is also why I have Wisconsin as the 11th best team in the Big Ten. The 2023 Midlands Championships is also next up for the Badgers.

No. 10 Indiana

Previous Rank: 11Dual Rank: 29Record: 3-0Ranked Wrestlers: 6141 No. 25 Danny Fongaro149 No. 14 Graham Rooks157 No. 19 Brayton Lee165 No. 9 Derek Gilcher174 No. 10 Donnell Washington184 No. 32 Roman Rogotzke Hey, give Indiana credit. Since opening the doors to Wilkinson Hall, the Hoosiers have gone a combined 15-29 in dual meets with very few bright spots to cheer about. But, Coach Angel Escobedo and his staff have assembled a very competitive group of wrestlers the past few seasons and Indiana is going to give many Big Ten teams fits this year. Anchored by veterans Graham Rooks, Derek Gilcher, and Donnell Washington, and with the added services of All-American transfer Brayton Lee, the Hoosiers are off to a great start this season. Indiana is a perfect 3-0 in dual meets against Rider (27-15), Princeton (18-15), and Central Michigan (25-15), and they took first place in the Battle at the Citadel while crowning three individual champions. The Southern Scuffle on January 1st and 2nd are up next for the Hoosiers before they begin the long and daunting Big Ten slate.

No. 9 Illinois

Previous Rank: 7Dual Rank: 23Record: 3-3Ranked Wrestlers: 5133 No. 28 Tony Madrigal141 No. 19 Danny Pucino174 No. 3 Edmond Ruth184 No. 27 Dylan Connell285 No. 14 Luke Luffman I think I would categorize the Fighting Illini’s season so far as slightly “Up and Down”. Illinois began the year by toppling SIUE at home to the tune of 28-7. Then they dropped a nail-biter to Navy (18-23) two days later. Oh boy. But, Illinois righted the ship by taking down both Central Michigan (32-3) and No. 27 UNC (20-13) in a tri dual in mid-November. Yay, time to pop the champagne! However the celebration was very short lived as the Fighting Illini then dropped back-to-back thrashings to No. 17 Pitt (9-22) and No. 3 Missouri (6-29) in their only two duals in December. Illinois is joining the rest of the Big Ten cavalcade as they too are participating in the 2023 Midlands Championships on December 29th and 30th.

No. 8 Maryland

Previous Rank: 9Dual Rank: 21Record: 2-1Ranked Wrestlers: 6133 No. 15 Braxton Brown141 No. 12 Kal Miller149 No. 16 Ethen Miller157 No. 32 Michael North197 No. 5 Jaxon Smith285 No. 23 Seth Nevills Maryland has looked fairly sharp so far this season, as they beat both American (30-7) and Morgan State (35-6) and the Terrapins won an individual title and two runner-up finishes in the Tiger Style Invite. But the road hasn’t been easy sledding so far. In a home dual against No. 17 Pitt, Maryland battled to the bitter end as the Panthers held an 18-16 lead with one match remaining. And pitted in that final match of the day was Pitt’s highly ranked heavyweight (Dayton Pitzer) squaring up against Maryland’s ranked heavyweight (Seth Nevills). Unfortunately for the Terrapin fans, Pitzer got the best of Nevills in a 4-3 decision and Pitt narrowly escaped with the win 21-16. Like Indiana, Maryland is going to be a thorn in the sides of many Big Ten teams this year. Next up for the Terrapins is the Franklin and Marshall Lehman Open on January 5th.

No. 7 Minnesota

Previous Rank: 8Dual Rank: 12Record: 5-0Ranked Wrestlers: 9125 No. 20 Patrick McKee133 No. 29 Tyler Wells141 No. 29 Vance Vombaur149 No. 19 Drew Roberts157 No. 11 Michael Blockhus165 No. 30 Blaine Brenner174 No. 32 Andrew Sparks184 No. 10 Isaiah Salazar197 No. 17 Garrett Joles If my math is correct *grabs TI-83 graphing calculator*, Minnesota is one of only three teams in the Big Ten to have nine or more ranked starters. And while the Golden Gophers lineup is one that doesn’t have many holes in it, they do lack upper tier talent at several weight classes. But hey, so far so good for Minnesota as they’ve rolled to a perfect 5-0 record by besting Bucknell (37-3), Morgan State (52-0), George Mason (37-6), No. 13 South Dakota State (19-13), and North Dakota State (33-7). The Golden Gophers also racked up seven individual titles in the Bison Open and another two individual titles in the Daktronics Open. Next up for Minnesota is a trip to Iowa City where they will take part in the 2023 Soldier Salute on December 29h and 30th.

No. 6 Rutgers

Previous Rank: 6Dual Rank: 14Record: 5-1Ranked Wrestlers: 8125 No. 3 Dean Peterson133 No. 26 Dylan Shawver141 No. 15 Mitch Moore157 No. 24 Andrew Clark174 No. 27 Jackson Turley184 No. 13 Brian Soldano197 No. 8 John Poznanski285 No. 7 Yaraslau Slavikouski It’s pretty safe to say that the Scarlet Knights are good at wrestling. But, it’s hard to really gauge how good this year’s squad is based on the early season action they’ve been a part of. And a lot of it is going to fall on the shoulders of Dylan Shawver, Mitch Moore, Andrew Clark, and Jackson Turley. both Moore (transfer from Oklahoma) and Turley are coming back from injuries from the 2022 season and Shawver is coming back from a medical redshirt of his own from last year. Clark is the only group of the four to not miss any time from injuries, however he will need to round into shape and get over the hump at 157 pounds if Rutgers is going to make a jump in the Big Ten. The Scarlet Knights know exactly what they are getting from guys like Dean Peterson, Brian Soldano, John Poznanski, and Yaraslau Slavikouski, so it’ll be up to the other guys to pull the slack. Rutgers only loss this season was against No. 9 Virginia Tech (12-19) and they blew the doors off everyone else on schedule; Duke (47-0), Cal Poly (31-10), Edinboro (49-0), Princeton (24-9), and Buffalo (40-0). So like I said, it’s hard to get a good read on how good they really are. Next up for the Scarlet Knights is an away dual against No. 20 Penn on January 6th.

No. 5 Ohio State

Previous Rank: 5Dual Rank: 6Record: 7-1Ranked Wrestlers: 10125 No. 23 Brendan McCrone133 No. 13 Nic Bouzakis141 No. 3 Jesse Mendez149 No. 5 Dylan D’Emilio157 No. 12 Paddy Gallagher165 No. 21 Isaac Wilcox174 No. 9 Carson Kharchla184 No. 16 Gavin Hoffman197 No. 24 Luke Geog285 No. 18 Nick Feldman Was it a huge surprise when the Buckeyes knocked off the then No. 3 team in the nation, Virginia Tech, 24-12 back in early November? Well, I don’t know about you, but I was certainly shocked. Not only did Ohio State win by double digits, but they had three unranked grapplers upset ranked Hokie guys. Brendan McCrone silenced the Virginia Tech crowd right out of the gate when he beat No. 4 Eddie Ventresca in an 11-3 major decision. Then Isaac Wilcox took out No. 16 Connor Brady (6-5 decision ) and Ryder Rogotzke pinned No. 21 Sam Fisher (5:35). The result was simply head scratching. And equally head scratching was the Buckeyes’ loss to No. 17 Pitt (13-21) on December 10th. Ohio State ended up righting the ship as they won their pool in the 2023 National Collegiate Duals by beating North Iowa (26-7), Lock Haven (28-9), and No. 7 NC State (21-20). If I had to take a wild guess right now, my gut tells me the Buckeyes will move up a slot or two before the season is over. But there’s still a long way to go. Next up for Ohio State is much-anticipated home dual against No. 8 Cornell on January 5th.

No. 4 Nebraska

Previous Rank: 4Dual Rank: 4Record: 3-0Ranked Wrestlers: 8125 No. 4 Caleb Smith133 No. 32 Jacob Van Dee141 No. 6 Brock Hardy149 No. 1 Ridge Lovett157 No. 3 Peyton Robb165 No. 23 Antrell Taylor184 No. 4 Lenny Pinto197 No. 11 Silas Allred First and foremost, it is absolutely amazing to see Peyton Robb back on the mat after what he went through at the end of last season. The senior grappler overcame a life-threatening infection and miraculously he’s full steam ahead for this season. As are the rest of the star-studded Cornhuskers lineup. Nebraska is 3-0 on the season in dual meets after taking out North Dakota State (31-12), Campbell (37-4), and No. 13 South Dakota State (21-17). The Cornhuskers also took home the team title at the 2023 Navy Classic and came in second in the CKLV. With the top level talent littered through their lineup, Nebraska is going to be a tough team to beat no matter who they’re facing. But with this being the Big Ten, it’s going to be hard for the Cornhuskers to topple any of the next three teams in the pecking order. Next up for Nebraska is the Nebraska/Northern Iowa/Wyoming Triangular on January 6th.

No. 3 Michigan

Previous Rank: 2Dual Rank: 10Record: 2-0Ranked Wrestlers: 10125 No. 6 Michael DeAugustino133 No. 7 Chris Cannon141 No. 30 Sergio Lemley149 No. 9 Austin Gomez157 No. 9 Will Lewan165 No. 5 Cameron Amine174 No. 5 Shane Griffith184 No. 14 Jaden Bullock197 No. 30 Bobby Striggow285 No. 4 Lucas Davison The Wolverines have been surprisingly quiet so far this year as they’ve only wrestled in two dual meets and two tournaments. Michigan dropped Columbia (33-6) on November 17th and they then dispatched Rider (27-14) two days later. They also secured an individual title in the Michigan State Open and finished eighth out of 35 teams in the 2023 CKLV. But that’s it. Do the Wolverines need to wrestle a ton of early season matches? Absolutely not, because there probably isn’t a lineup in the country with the experience the Wolverines have. Between Michael DeAugustino, Chris Cannon, Austin Gomez, Will Lewan, Cameron Amine, Shane Griffith, and Lucas Davison, they have a staggering 715 total matches under their belt. This also includes 14 All-American finishes and one individual title. So to say Michigan’s squad is loaded is a bit of an understatement. But, if there is a “but”, it’s this. Being heavy experienced on the mat has its advantages when it comes to the preparation and the mental aspects of wrestling, but it also means that a lot of these guys are no spring chickens. Do you remember what happened to the aging Iowa lineup two years ago? As the rigors of the season went along, the guys with countless matches in their history started to wear down and get injured. And to say they didn’t peak at the right time would be putting it nicely. Now I’m not saying this is going to happen to this year’s Wolverine team, I’m just saying it’s something to think about. If Michigan can stay healthy and if Sean Bormet can get the most out of his veterans, then I believe the Wolverines could make a push to be one of the top two teams in the Big Ten. Next up for Michigan is an away dual against No. 13  South Dakota State on January 4th.


No. 2 Iowa

Previous Rank: 3Dual Rank: 2Record: 5-0Ranked Wrestlers: 8125 No. 14 Drake Ayala133 No. 10 Brody Teske141 No. 1 Real Woods149 No. 8 Victor Voinovich157 No. 2 Jared Franek165 No. 7 Mickey Caliendo174 No. 14 Patrick Kennedy197 No. 19 Zach Glazier The Hawkeyes have been fairly busy so far in the 2023-2024 season with five dual meets and a tournament on their schedule. Iowa had eight individual champions in the 2023 Luther Open and they hold a perfect 5-0 record after defeating Cal Baptist (40-0), No. 16 Oregon State (25-11), No. 5 Iowa State (18-14), Penn (22-13), and Columbia (38-3). Which from the outside looking in is quite a feat from Tom Brands and his coaching staff. Because remember, Iowa is without the services of Nelson Brands, Abe Assad, Cobe Siebrecht, and Tony Cassioppi due to their suspensions stemming from the NCAA gambling probe from last year. And the simple fact is this, there aren’t too many wrestling programs in the nation that can lose four starters, with four combined All-American finishes, right before the season and still be one of the best teams in the Big Ten. But here we are. And you have to give a ton of credit to Tom Brands. However, the Hawkeyes are now left with two glaring holes in their lineup at 184 and 285. Which will most likely prove problematic as the season progresses and as they face teams like Nebraska, Michigan, and Penn State. Next up for Iowa is an away dual meet against Nebraska on January 12th.

No. 1 Penn State Wrestling

Previous Rank: 1Dual Rank: 1Record: 2-0Ranked Wrestlers: 8133 No. 4 Aaron Nagao141 No. 2 Beau Bartlett157 No. 1 Levi Haines165 No. 14 Mitchell Mesenbrink174 No. 1 Carter Starocci184 No. 2 Bernie Truax197 No. 1 Aaron Brooks285 No. 1 Greg Kerkvliet And to literally no one’s surprise, the Nittany Lions occupy the top spot in my updated Big Ten Wrestling Power Rankings. But it hasn’t been a completely smooth ride so far as news broke in early December that All-American Shayne Van Ness would miss the remainder of the season. It’s still unclear whether it will be Tyler Kasak or David Evans going forward to fill in for Van Ness, however I’m sure the coaching staff already has a plan. While losing a starting All-American is never good for any team, Penn State Wrestling has seen a bright spot emerge at the top of the lineup with true freshman Braeden Davis. Davis won titles in both the Journeymen Classic and Black Knight Invite and he won a major decision in his first ever dual meet action. As for the rest of the Penn State lineup, it’s pretty much business as usual. That is, if your “business as usual” as a wrestler is dominating each match like it’s your last and completely crushing the souls of your opponents. Penn State won 11 individual titles in the Journeymen Classic, five individual titles in the Black Knight Invite (which included two all-Nittany Lion finals), went 4-1 in the 2023 NWCA All-Star Exhibition, dusted Lehigh (30-10), and stomped Hofstra (43-10). 

But the schedule is about to get a little tougher for the Nittany Lions as they are slated to take on No. 16 Oregon State in an away dual meet on January 5th. Then it’s onto the meat-grinder known as the Big Ten regular season schedule.

MORE: Penn State Adds Highly Touted 2025 Commit

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