Penn State Wrestling: Projecting NCAA Championship Path 125-257

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

Penn State Wrestling: 2024 NCAA Championships – Projecting the Path 125 to 157

Penn State Wrestling is less than a week out from the wrestling action in the 2024 NCAA Championships.

Now that the brackets have been out for several days and all of the talking heads on wrestling have broken them down, let’s take a look at each of the Nittany Lions and project their path to glory. Oh, and by me saying “broken them down”, pretty much everyone has ripped the NCAA for some of their egregious seedings.

But hey, there’s nothing anyone can do about that now. It’s time for the Penn State squad to put their head down and forge ahead.

Moving on.

For this first installment of “Projection the Path”, we’re going to look at the grapplers from 125 to 157 pounds and see what potentially lies ahead in the 2024 NCAA Championships.

Penn State Wrestling Path to Championships 125-157

Penn State Wrestling
Penn State’s Braeden Davis wrestles Ohio State’s Vinny Kilkeany in their 125-pound bout on Feb. 2, 2024, in State College, Pa. The Nittany Lions won, 28-9.

No. 1 Braeden Davis (20-2)

1st Round matchup – No. 1 Braeden Davis (PSU) vs. No. 33 Tristan Lujan (MSU)/No. 32 Mike Joyce (BRWN)

Key matchup – Quarterfinals – No. 1 Braeden Davis (PSU) vs. No. 8 Richard Figueroa (ASU) or No. 9 Patrick McKee (MINN)

While it was a bit surprising Braeden Davis was tagged with the No. 1 seed in the 125 bracket, it’s definitely not a surprise that his road deep into the tournament is going to be a tough one.

The entire 125 group was just pure chaos this season and there are plenty of returning and former All-Americans scattered throughout the bracket.

Two-time All-American Eric Barnett (WIS) is a No. 10 seed, 2022 All-American and five-time NCAA qualifier Michael DeAugustino (MICH) is a No. 18 seed, two-time All-American Patrick McKee (MINN) is a No. 9 seed, and four-time NCAA qualifier and highly experienced wrestler Jakob Camacho (NCST) is a No. 7 seed.

Then you throw into the mix the younger group of No. 2 seed Luke Stanich (LEH), No. 3 seed Drake Ayala (IOWA), No. 5 seed Jore Volk (WYO), and No. 8 seed Richard Figueroa (ASU) and the bracket turns into a virtual landmine.

Thankfully Braeden won’t have to face a majority of the guys I listed as they are on the bottom-half of the bracket. But if things shake out right, then Davis will have a quarterfinals matchup against either McKee or Figueroa which would then potentially lead to a semifinals match against last year’s runner-up Matt Ramos.

And that’s why I have Davis’ quarterfinals round matchup as the key matchup. Because obviously it’s impossible to make the semifinals if you don’t win the quarters. And with how things have gone so far this year, and if Braeden can get past Figueroa/McKee, then who knows who will be there in the semis. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if it’s Volk or even No. 12 seed Anthony Noto (LH).


No. 10 Aaron Nagao (14-5)

1st Round matchup – No. 10 Aaron Nagao (PSU) vs. No. 23 Marlon Yarbrough (UVA)

Key matchup – Quarterfinals – No. 10 Aaron Nagao (PSU) vs. No. 2 Ryan Crookham (LEH)

In a recent Penn State Predictions for the 2024 NCAA Championships article I wrote, my very first prediction had to be a bit of a shock for most people.

However I still stand by it. I think Aaron Nagao’s path to a possible finals isn’t out of the question.

The majority of the guys I consider “dangerous” in this bracket are on the opposite side of Aaron. In order for Nagao to make the semifinals his path will most likely include No. 7 Nasir Bailey (LR) and No. 2 Ryan Crookham (LEH). And as I detailed in the article, I believe the rematch between Nagao and Crookham will not go down the same as earlier this year.

But hey, I’m in no way discounting Bailey. He’s a very competitive wrestler and he’s had an impressive season. But Little Rock does not wrestle the same competition as Penn State day in and day out.

If Nagao and Crookham do lock horns in the semifinals then it will be the biggest match of both of their careers. And my money is on the guy who trains in the best wrestling room in the country and has the best coaching staff in the country.

Penn State Wrestling
Beau Bartlett of Penn State Wrestling (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire)

No. 2 Beau Bartlett (20-1)

1st Round matchup – No. 2 Beau Bartlett (PSU) vs. No. 31 Kai Owen (COL)

Key matchup – Semifinals – No. 2 Beau Bartlett (PSU) vs. No. 3 Real Woods (IOWA)

Beau Bartlett’s road to the semifinals isn’t going to be a cake walk. Both his second round and quarterfinals matchups could both be tricky ones.

Both Mitch Moore (RUT) and Cole Matthews (PITT) have proven they can wrestle at a high level. Then Bartlett could face either Cael Happel (UNI) or Tagen Jamison in the quarterfinals. Again, both could push Beau if he goes into his conservative-mode.

But for the guy who was No. 1 at 141 pounds for the majority of season, and for a guy who had a podium finish in last year’s NCAA’s, the ultimate goal isn’t to make the quarterfinals or even the semifinals. Beau for sure has his sight set on a finals appearance and a chance to win an NCAA title.

Real Woods is still a highly competitive guy, however he has proven he’s human. And the last time Bartlett and Woods squared off, Real was on his way to dropping his second straight match of the season. Beau seemed to be able to score on Woods whenever he wanted.

If these two grapplers meet up in the semifinals, then Beau will need to be ready for a fight. Woods will not want to lose a second time to his Nittany Lion counterpart as he too has his eyes set on taking home a coveted NCAA title.

No. 7 Tyler Kasak (17-4)

1st Round matchup – No. 7 Tyler Kasak (PSU) vs. No. 26 Jaden Abas (STAN)

Key matchup – Quarterfinals – No. 7 Tyler Kasak (PSU) vs. No. 2 Kyle Parco (ASU)

Tyler Kasak will have to get through both Abas and most likely No. 10 seed Chance Lamer (POLY) to get to the quarterfinals. Neither will be an easy task but with what Penn State fans have seen from Tyler this season, he should be able to get the job done.

Then it will be a massive matchup in the quarters.

Parco didn’t start off the season on the right foot as he dropped three bouts in his first 14 matches. But since then he’s been as good as anyone in the country at 149 pounds. And this includes handing the No. 1 seed Ridge Lovett (NEB) his first loss of the year a couple of weeks ago.

Kasak‘s road to making a deep run obviously starts in his first match. He’s only a true freshman and sometimes they perform like true freshman.

But Tyler has already gone toe-to-toe with some of the best 149 pounders in the country, so he’ll be ready. It’s just a matter of a whether or not he can get a match-deciding takedown or fight off a committed shot here and there between an early exit to the consolation bracket or a run towards being crowned an All-American.

Penn State Wrestling
Penn State Wrestling standout Levi Haines (Photo by Scott Pilutik for NittanyCentral)

No. 1 Levi Haines (18-0)

1st Round matchup – No. 1 Levi Haines (PSU) vs. No. 33 Nick Stampoulos (BUFF)/No. 32 Isaac Wilcox (OHST)

Key matchup – Semifinals – No. 1 Levi Haines (PSU) vs. No. 4 Ed Scott (NCST)

Aside from some early struggles in the season, Levi Haines has had a very good season.

However the same can’t be said for Ed Scott. His season has been stright up weird.

Four of his five losses on the season have come at the hands of guys seeded anywhere from three to 23 spots lower than him. Yet he owns impressive wins against the likes of No. 12 seed Bryce Andonian (VT), No. 9 seed Will Lewan (MICH), and No. 5 seed Ryder Downey (UNI).

Haines will most likely draw either Peyton Robb (NEB) or Lewan in the quarterfinals and he’s seen both of those guys enough to know how to beat them. So I feel very confident he’ll make his way to the semifinals with relative ease.

As for who he will face in the semis, who knows. I’m projecting Scott but he’s been anything but consistent this year. I wouldn’t be shocked if either Downey or Michael Blockhus (MINN) make a run to the semifinals. In either case, Levi will need to battle tough and prevail to make his second straight appearance in the finals.

The recipe of an NCAA title for Haines is simple: take each match one at a time … and then WIN.

MORE: Predictions for Penn State at NCAA Wrestling Championships

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