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

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

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

Penn State Wrestling will hit the mats for the 2023-2024 collegiate wrestling season before we know it, and it’s high time for some Big Ten Wrestling Power Rankings. Do you smell that? Well, yes, that is the smell of a grilled cheese sandwich that I burnt. But, I was talking about something different. It’s almost wrestling season, baby!! So with that, let’s take a long stroll through the Big Ten and how each team stacks up as we head into late October. 

Preseason Big Ten Power Rankings for the 2023-2024 season … How does Penn State Wrestling Stack Up?

No. 14 Purdue

Record Last Year: 4-11Intermat Dual Ranking: NR Ranked Wrestlers: 4125 No. 1 Matt Ramos133 No. 29 Dustin Norris149 No. 27 Marcos Polanco285 No. 29 Hayden Copass Not too much to say about the Boilermakers other than the fact their program is a shell of it’s former self. Purdue went 4-11 last year with two All-Americans on its roster with Matt Ramos and Parker Filius. Filius is unfortunately out of eligibility and the Boilermakers haven’t been able to pull in much talent on the recruiting trail of late. Even with the No. 1 125 pounder in the nation it’s going to be a rough year for Purdue. First up: November 5th – Clarion Open 

No. 13 Northwestern

Record Last Year: 7-3Intermat Dual Ranking: NR Ranked Wrestlers: 5141 No. 15 Frankie Tal-Shahar157 No. 11 Trevor Chumbley165 No. 10 Maxx Mayfield184 No. 14 Troy Fisher197 No. 20 Evan Bates The time that Northwestern has been a big time player in Big Ten Wrestling is officially over. Next year’s version of Northwestern could possibly be several steps below mediocre. The reason? Well, it’s pretty darn simple. All three Northwestern All-Americans, Michael DeAugustino (2022), Chris Cannon (2021-2022), and Lucas Davison (2022-2023), decided to transfer to Michigan. And 2021 All-American Yahya Thomas is out of college eligibility. The Wildcats will have several competitive grapplers hit the mat next season between Frankie Tal-Shahar, Trevor Chumbley, Maxx Mayfield, Troy Fisher, and Evan Bates. But to make matters worse, according to Wrestlestat, Northwestern will potentially have three wrestlers ranked outside of the top 100 in their starting lineup. Not only has the talent dried up on their active roster, the Wildcats haven’t exactly been lighting the recruiting trail on fire either. Northwestern was not ranked anywhere near the top 25 in both the 2022 and 2023 recruiting cycles. In the most recent cycle they brought in two guys but neither of them are ranked inside the top 100. Woof. First up: November 11th – Michigan State Open

No. 12 Michigan State

Record Last Year: 10-6Intermat Dual Ranking: NR Ranked Wrestlers: 3157 No. 10 Chase Saldate165 No. 11 Caleb Fish184 No. 11 Layne Malczewski To go along with their very short list of preseason ranked grapplers, Sparty also has a giant goose egg in the “Returning All-American” column. However, Michigan State still has some top end talent at several spots between Chase Saldate’s and Caleb Fish’s round of 12 finish in the 2023 NCAA Championships. Adding Tristan Lujan (125), Layne Malczewski, Kael Wisler (197), and Josh Terrill (285) into the mix, their combined record of 75-32 speaks for itself. And what it says about the Spartans is “We aren’t great, but we also aren’t terrible. And, every single person on the team could tie Chris Snyder into a pretzel without breaking a sweat.” Enough said. First up: November 5th – Clarion Open


No. 11 Indiana

Record Last Year: 8-5Intermat Dual Ranking: 29 Ranked Wrestlers: 4149 No. 7 Graham Rooks157 No. 14 Derek Gilcher174 No. 10 Donnell Washington285 No. 21 Jacob Bullock While the Hoosiers don’t have any returning All-Americans, they do return a fairly strong squad going into next season. At least by Indiana’s wrestling standards. Graham Rooks was the highest finisher for the Hoosiers in the 2023 NCAA’s as he made the round of 12 group at 149. And Donnell Washington finished the year going 25-9 with a finish in the round of 16 at 174. Between Rooks, incoming transfer Brayton Lee (from Minnesota), Washington, Derek Gilcher, Nick Willham (197), and Jacob Bullock, Indiana may actually be a team to not take lightly next year. First up: November 5th – The Citadel Invite

No. 10 Wisconsin

Record Last Year: 8-8Intermat Dual Ranking: 25 Ranked Wrestlers: 4125 No. 5 Eric Barnett149 No. 17 Joe Zargo165 No. 4 Dean Hamiti174 No. 27 Max Maylor By looking at the above stats, it looks like the 2023-2024 season could be a rough one for the Badgers. Wisconsin does still return two-time All-Americans Eric Barnett and Dean Hamiti. But outside of them and Joe Zargo, there’s not a lot to be hopeful for. The Badgers have a bunch of holes in their lineup and it’s possible that they could be starting four grapplers who are ranked outside of the top 70. So buckle up Badgers fans, because if you thought last season was a bit bumpy, then you haven’t seen anything yet. This year could be very choppy – cue the gif of the speed boat filled with middle aged people hitting some wake. Up first: November 5th – Dual meet at home against Lindenwood 

No. 9 Maryland

Record Last Year: 10-9Intermat Dual Ranking: 22 Ranked Wrestlers: 6125 No. 15 Braxton Brown141 No. 27 Kal Miller149 No. 13 Ethan Miller157 No. 27 Michael North197 No. 8 Jaxon Smith285 No. 17 Seth Nevills Make no mistake about it, Maryland Wrestling is no longer the laughing stock of the Big Ten. Just how bad was Maryland in the past? How about a combined record of 28-105 from 2015-2022. They were BAD. But the Terrapins put together their first winning record since 2014 and they return a stable of talent between Braxton Brown, Kal Miller, Ethen Miller, Michael North, and Jaxon Smith. Maryland could surprise some teams this coming season. Oh, and Maryland recently acquired the services of former Penn State hammer, Seth Nevills. I’ll make two predictions for next year’s Terrapins team, they will have another winning record and they will have more than one All-American once the dust settles at the end of the season. Up first: November 2nd – Dual meet at American 

No. 8 Minnesota

Record Last Year: 12-3Intermat Dual Ranking: 16 Ranked Wrestlers: 8125 No. 7 Patrick McKee133 No. 24 Jake Gliva141 No. 29 Vance Vombaur149 No. 19 Drew Roberts157 No. 8 Michael Blockhus174 No. 17 Andrew Sparks184 No. 7 Isaiah Salazar285 No. 30 Garrett Joles The Golden Gophers, even by their standards, had a decent year last season. They had two grapplers with eligibility remaining finish as All-Americans and they had two other guys with finishes in the round of 12. But, unfortunately for Minnesota, they lost one of their All-Americans as Aaron Nagao transferred to Penn State. And at one point in the off-season it looked like the Golden Gophers would also be without Blockhus after he announced his intention to forgo his final season to focus on MMA. Michael later changed his mind and he’s back in Minneapolis. As for the round of 12 finishers, only Isaiah Salazar is back due to Bailee O’Reilly running out of eligibility. So, 2023-2024 could be an interesting year for the Golden Gophers even though they still have two time All-American (2021-2022) Patrick McKee and begin the season with eight ranked grapplers. And by “interesting”, I mean it might be a bit of a down year for the Golden Gophers. Up first: November 11th – Bison Open No. 7 Illinois Record Last Year: 6-7Intermat Dual Ranking: 18 Ranked Wrestlers: 7125 No. 30 Justin Cardani133 No. 6 Lucas Byrd165 No. 16 Danny Braunagel174 No. 5 Edmond Ruth184 No. 20 Dylan Connell197 No. 9 Zac Braunagel285 No. 10 Luke Luffman Just like Minnesota may experience a downturn this coming season, the Fighting Illini should be markedly better than they were in 2022-2023. Illinois returns Lucas Byrd, Edmond Ruth, and Zac Braunagel who all had deep runs in the round of 12 in the 2023 NCAA’s. Additionally, talented sophomore Dylan Connell could make some waves in the Big Ten at 184 even though he had a bit of an up and down season last year. And the Fighting Illini get their big man back as Luke Luffman used a redshirt last season, and assuming everything is right with him, he’ll be back and better than ever. If Justin Cardani, Danny Pucino, and Danny Braunagel somehow take big steps forward, then it’s possible Illinois could move up some spots in the rankings. But trust me, starting with the next team, the sledding starts to get very tough. Up first: November 2nd – Dual meet at home against SIUE 

No. 6 Rutgers

Record Last Year: 10-7Intermat Dual Ranking: 14 Ranked Wrestlers: 10125 No. 6 Dean Peterson133 No. 16 Dylan Shawver141 No. 17 Mitch Moore149 No. 25 Jacob Butler157 No. 21 Andrew Clark165 No. 24 Anthony White174 No. 28 Jackson Turley184 No. 10 Brian Soldano197 No. 12 John Poznanski285 No. 6 Yaraslau Slavikouski And once again, we have a Big Ten team returning zero All-Americans. But take a look at what a portion of the Scarlet Knights lineup may look like next season:125 Dean Peterson 25-11 (R12 2023 NCAA Tournament)133 Dylan Shawver 12-5 (R16 2022 NCAA Tournament)141 Mitch Moore 80-36 (R12 2021 NCAA Tournament)149 Jacob Butler 14-8 (NQ 2022 NCAA Tournament)157 Andrew Clark 20-17 (NQ 2023 NCAA Tournament)165 Anthony White 35-19 (NQ 2023 NCAA Tournament)174 Jackson Turley 11-14 (8th 2021 NCAA Tournament)184 Brian Soldano 25-12 (R16 2023 NCAA Tournament)197 John Poznanski 8-1 (4th 2021 NCAA Tournament)285 Yaraslau Slavikouski 30-6 (R12 2023 NCAA Tournament) So that’s two former All-Americans from the 2021 NCAA Championships and five other guys who’ve made deep runs in the NCAA Championships. If Jackson Turley can shrug off his injury issues from the past two years and Joey Olivieri, Jacob Butler, and Andrew Clark can round into shape, then Rutgers could make a substantial jump up my Power Rankings in the future. Up first: November 3rd – Dual meet at Cal Poly 

No. 5 Ohio State

Record Last Year: 13-3Intermat Dual Ranking: 7 Ranked Wrestlers: 9133 No. 9 Nic Bouzakis141 No. 6 Jesse Mendez149 No. 6 Dylan D’Emilio157 No. 16 Paddy Gallagher165 No. 19 Bryce Hepner174 No. 7 Carson Kharchla184 No. 22 Seth Shumate197 No. 11 Gavin Hoffman285 No. 20 Nick Feldman The Buckeyes are in a bit of a rebuilding mode as the trio of Ethan Smith (2x All-American 2021 & 2023), Kaleb Romero (2x All-American 2022-2023), and Tate Orndorff (All-American 2021 and 2x R12 finisher) ride off into the collegiate sunset. And it won’t be easy for Ohio State to fill their shoes in the lineup. Past All-American, Carson Kharchla (2022), will bump up to 174 to take Smith’s spot, which then allows Bryce Hepner to occupy the 165 spot. And following a redshirt season last year, Seth Shumate should be locked and loaded to take over at 184 for Romero. But it would be a massive stretch to say both Hepner and Shumate will be anywhere as close as good as Smith and Romero were. Another big blow to the Buckeyes is what happened to Sammy Sasso in the off-season. It’s great to see him on the road to recovery and I hope he’s able to come back and better than ever. But this season is out for him. Currently Ohio State may have some questions at heavyweight. Nick Feldman (285) was the overall No. 1 recruit in 2022 according to FloWrestling, but he redshirted the prior year and didn’t appear in any opens or invitationals. The big question is will he be ready for the grind that is the 285 group in the Big Ten? Time will tell. But the future still looks good for Tom Ryan as they’ve landed the No. 1 recruiting class in 2022, the No. 6 class in 2023, and commitments from both the No. 3 (Benjamin Davino) and No. 23 (Ethan Birden) recruits in the 2024 class. Up first: November 5th – Clarion Open No. 4 Nebraska Record Last Year: 12-3Intermat Dual Ranking: 5 Ranked Wrestlers: 10 125 No. 14 Caleb Smith133 No. 31 Jacob Van Dee141 No. 5 Brock Hardy149 No. 1 Ridge Lovett157 No. 3 Peyton Robb165 No. 12 Bubba Wilson174 No. 20 Elise Brown Ton184 No. 9 Lenny Pinto197 No. 7 Silas Allred285 No. 23 Owen Pentz The Cornhuskers could be an interesting team next year based on several factors. The first of which is how they will deal with the departure of All-Americans Liam Cronin and Mikey Labriola. Mark Manning and crew took care of the open spot at 125 as they brought in two-time NCAA qualifier Caleb Smith from App State. But, the huge hole left behind by four time All-American Mickey Labriola at 174 is simply insurmountable. The only option Nebraska really has is Elise Brown Ton, and while he’s a solid wrestler, it’s going to be a bit of a step back for them. The other huge question is how is Peyton Robb’s health and what kind of shape is he truly going to be in following a fight for his life. As with Sasso, I wish only the best for Peyton and collegiate wrestling is a much better place when both guys are on the mat and electrifying the crowd. Now going back to the Cornhusker lineup. Jacob Van Dee and Brock Hardy have the 133 and 141 spots locked down and following a redshirt in 2023, the NCAA runner-up in 2022 at 149, Ridge Lovett, should also be a mighty force to deal with. Round of 16 finisher Bubba Wilson will go at 165, NCAA qualifier Lenny Pinto is back at 184, and round of 12 finisher Silas Allred is good to go at 197. The 2023-2024 season should be a strong one for the Cornhuskers. Up first: November 4th – Dual meet at North Dakota State 

No. 3 Iowa

Record Last Year: 15-1Intermat Dual Ranking: 8 Ranked Wrestlers: 7125 No. 13 Drake Ayala133 No. 14 Brody Teske141 No. 2 Real Woods149 No. 10 Victor Voinovich157 No. 2 Jared Franek165 No. 5 Mikey Caliendo197 No. 24 Kolby Franklin There are going to be a ton of factors in play here for this year’s version of the Iowa Hawkeyes. First and foremost deals with what happens to Abe Assad, Cobe Siebrecht, Nelson Brands, and Tony Cassioppi. As it stand currently, these four are suspended for the entire year, however an appeal is in the works. If the appeal process fails then the Hawkeyes will be without the services of four starting grapplers who’ve amassed a combined record of 238-72, 10 NCAA Tournament appearances, and four All-American finishes. Tom Brands and company did a fantastic job of raiding the North Dakota State wrestling room in the off-season as they added 2023 All-Americans Michael Caliendo and Jared Franek to their lineup. Victor Voinovich also matriculated to Iowa City as he previously wrestled two seasons for Oklahoma State. Franek plugs the hole left by Siebrecht, however the Hawkeyes don’t have many viable options left at 174 (Brands), 184 (Assad), and 285 (Cassioppi). If I had to put a percentage chance on what happens right now, then my gut tells me there’s a 20% chance these guys will remain suspended for the season. Which leaves us with an 80% chance they only get suspended for a part of the season. And if this happens, and if Iowa also adds 2021 NCAA Champion AJ Ferrari to their room, then the Hawkeyes could end up having a very good season. But I still have them behind the next two schools. Up first: November 4th – Dual meet at Cal Baptist

No. 2 Michigan

Record Last Year: 11-4Intermat Dual Ranking: 9 Ranked Wrestlers: 8125 No. 8 Michael DeAugustino133 No. 13 Chris Cannon141 No. 16 Dylan Ragusin157 No. 7 Will Lewan165 No. 3 Cameron Amine174 No. 4 Shane Griffith184 No. 21 Rylan Rogers285 No. 3 Lucas Davison Next year’s Wolverines squad might as well be called the “Michiwestern WolverineCats” as they acquired the services of three former All-Americans in Michael DeAugustino, Chris Cannon, and Lucas Davison from Northwestern. But Sean Bormet wasn’t finished there. He also added 2021 NCAA Champion and three-time All-American Shane Griffith to the room from Stanford. Just take a look at the transfers they locked up and their past accomplishments:Michael DeAugustino – 2022 All-American (4th) and R12 in 2021Chris Cannon – 2021 All-American (7th) and 2022 All-American (7th)Shane Griffith – 2021 NCAA Champion, 2022 NCAA Runner-up, 2023 All-American (5th)Lucas Davison – 2022 All-American (6th) and 2023 All-American (2023) Michigan won’t just be one of the best teams in the Big Ten, but they could be one of the best teams in the country. And, with Wisconsin All-American Austin Gomez signing with the Cliff Keen Wrestling Club this past summer, there’s a really good possibility he will be on the mat for the Wolverines this fall at 149 pounds. Which will be fantastic news for wrestling fans in Ann Arbor and bad news for everyone else. Up first: November 11th – Michigan State Open 

No. 1 Penn State Wrestling

Record Last Year: 16-0Intermat Dual Ranking: 1 Ranked Wrestlers: 10125 No. 19 Robbie Howard133 No. 3 Aaron Nagao141 No. 3 Beau Bartlett149 No. 2 Shayne Van Ness157 No. 1 Levi Haines165 No. 14 Alex Facundo174 No. 1 Carter Starocci184 No. 2 Bernie Truax197 No. 1 Aaron Brooks285 No. 1 Greg Kerkvliet The only other team in the Big Ten to rival Michigan in terms of transfer additions is without a doubt the Nittany Lions. Three time All-American, Bernie Truax, was the first to pull the trigger in April. And then the back-to-back US Open champion and U20 Worlds silver medalist, Mitchell Mesenbrink, gave his commitment to Cael Sanderson . Next up it was Aaron Nagao‘s turn to crush the dreams of many wrestling fanbases as the 2023 All-American at 133 also committed to Penn State. This means the Nittany Lions return six All-Americans, added two All-Americans from the portal, and added a potential future All-American and individual title contender. But this doesn’t mean there aren’t any questions for next year’s Penn State team. Far from it. With news that Aaron Nagao suffered an injury a little more than a month ago, it’s very likely Nittany Lions fans won’t see him until a little later in the season. Which means Penn State should trot out a heavy dose of Baylor Shunk and Braeden Davis in his absence. The big question surrounding Nagao’s injury is how he looks when he comes back. And more importantly, how he’s able to peak as the season progresses. And what about the log jam Penn State has at 157 and 165. The Nittany Lions have NCAA runner-up Levi Haines, No. 25 recruit Tyler Kasak, mega-transfer Mitch Mesenbrink, and highly competitive grappler Alex Facundo between the two weight classes. It’s definitely a good “problem” to have and I’m sure Cael Sanderson will make the right decision there. The other big question surrounding the Nittany Lions camp is what will Carter Starocci and Aaron Brooks do this season? Will one or both of them take the year off to train for the Olympics? Or neither of them? The only thing I know for sure right now is that both Carter Starocci and Aaron Brooks are in the wrestling room and they are both enrolled in classes this fall on campus. At this point, I think it looks very good that both of them will be on the mat this coming season for the Nittany Lions. Which means a completely loaded roster is locked, loaded, and ready to destroy all comers this year. Up first: November 12th – Journeymen Collegiate Classic 

MORE: What will middle of PSU Wrestling’s lineup look like?

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