Penn State Wrestling: Projecting Path for B1G Championships in 165 to 285

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: Projecting Path for Big Ten Championships in 165 to 285

Penn State Wrestling is only a week away from the 2024 Big Ten Wrestling Championships in College Park, Maryland.

In our first installment of “Projecting the Path“, we took a look at what potentially lays ahead for Braeden Davis (125), Aaron Nagao (133), Beau Bartlett (141), Tyler Kasak (149), and Levi Haines (157). And if you are guessing this edition is going to wrap up the 165 to 285 groups, then you would be correct!

Because that’s what we’re going to do.

So with that, let’s take a look at the back end of the Nittany Lions‘ starting lineup and their projected path to winning some Big Ten hardware.

And away we go!

165

Mitchell Mesenbrink (19-0)

Intermat rank: 5

RPI rank: 2

Coaches rank: 5

Projected Big Ten seed: 2

Projected matchups

1st Round – Bye

Quarterfinals – No. 2 Mitchell Mesenbrink (PSU) vs. No. 7 Bryce Hepner (OSU)

Semifinals – No. 2 Mitchell Mesenbrink (PSU) vs. No. 3 Mikey Caliendo (IOWA)

Finals – No. 2 Mitchell Mesenbrink (PSU) vs. No. 1 Dean Hamiti (WIS)

You can count on one finger the amount of guys that have pushed Mesenbrink so far this season. And even if the 165 bracket is all chalk, I just don’t see Mitchell having a rough road to the finals.

However, it will be an interesting matchup if Wisconsin’s Dean Hamiti also makes the finals. A Mesenbrink/Hamiti finals will for sure be “must see tv”.

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174

Carter Starocci (12-0)

Intermat rank: 1

RPI rank: N/A

Coaches rank: 1

Projected Big Ten seed: 1

Projected matchups

1st Round – Bye

Quarterfinals – No. 1 Carter Starocci (PSU) vs. No. 8 Donnell Washington (IU)

Semifinals – No. 1 Carter Starocci (PSU) vs. No. 4 Patrick Kennedy (IOWA)

Finals – No. 1 Carter Starocci (PSU) vs. No. 2 Shane Griffith (MICH)

News regarding the health of Carter Starocci and his injured right knee has been about as silent as the Rec Hall crowd was when the injured happened. It has been complete radio silence from the Nittany Lion wrestling room and that is 100% understandable.

I know there have been comparisons between Carter’s path forward and the challenges which Jason Nolf had to overcome in the 2017-2018 season. But as I’ve pointed out before, there are two major differences.

First and foremost is the amount of time. One and a half months versus two weeks is miles apart. The second major hurdle for Carter will be his possible opponents.

As it stands now, Starocci will most likely need to wrestle in two matches in the Big Ten’s to qualify for the 2024 NCAA’s. And due to the conference switching up the first round byes several years ago (the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds wrestled in the first round and the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds got the first round bye), Carter’s first opponent will most likely be Indiana’s Donnell Washington instead of the No. 14 seed David Ferrante (NW).

Nolf had the ability to breeze through his first round match and then go up against a competitive guy in his second match. But that’s not going to be the case for Starocci.

184

Bernie Truax (11-3)

Intermat rank: 6

RPI rank: N/A

Coaches rank: 6

Projected Big Ten seed: 3

Projected matchups

1st Round – No. 3 Bernie Truax (PSU) vs. No. 14 Chase Mielnik (MD)

Quarterfinals – No. 3 Bernie Truax (PSU) vs. No. 6 Jaden Bullock (MICH)

Semifinals – No. 3 Bernie Truax (PSU) vs. No. 2 Isaiah Salazar (MINN)

Finals – No. 3 Bernie Truax (PSU) vs. No. 1 Lenny Pinto (NEB)

Truax should be able to walk into the semifinals without much issue. But from there it’s going to be an uphill climb to the finish.

Salazar handed Pinto his only Big Ten loss of the year and the Golden Gopher looks like he’s firing on all cylinders late in the year. And if Truax can get past him, then most likely Lenny Pinto will be his opponent in the finals.

Getting past both of those talented guys will not be an easy task.

197

Aaron Brooks (14-0)

Intermat rank: 1

RPI rank: N/A

Coaches rank: 1

Projected Big Ten seed: 1

Projected matchups

1st Round – Bye

Quarterfinals – No. 1 Aaron Brooks (PSU) vs. No. 8 Gabe Sollars (IU)

Semifinals – No. 1 Aaron Brooks (PSU) vs. No. 4 Silas Allred (NEB)

Finals – No. 1 Aaron Brooks (PSU) vs. No. 2 Zach Glazier (IOWA)

Aaron Brooks has simply walked through every single guy he’s faced this season. And he’s won every single match with bonus points except for one, a 5-1 decision over Iowa’s Zach Glazier.

If Glazier can get past Maryland’s Jaxon Smith in the semifinals then it could be a another Brooks/Glazier matchup. Will the result be in any doubt?

Probably not. The only real question for Brooks at this point is not whether or not he will beat someone, nope, the real question is how badly he will beat his opponent.

285

Greg Kerkvliet (12-0)

Intermat rank: 1

RPI rank: N/A

Coaches rank: 1

Projected Big Ten seed: 1

Projected matchups

1st Round – Bye

Quarterfinals – No. 1 Greg Kerkvliet (PSU) vs. No. 8 Josh Terrill (MSU)

Semifinals – No. 1 Greg Kerkvliet (PSU) vs. No. 4 Yaraslau Slavikouski (RUT)

Finals – No. 1 Greg Kerkvliet (PSU) vs. No. 2 Lucas Davison (MICH)

Based on my projections Greg Kerkvliet will represent the sixth Nittany Lion grappler to have a first round bye. With 60% of the Penn State lineup having one less match than most other guys it means the road to a Big Ten team title is a tough one.

But the Big Ten Championships aren’t necessarily about winning individual titles and it’s certainly not about winning team titles. That’s for later in the month.

And just like with Aaron, I don’t see Kerkvliet being pushed much at all in this year’s Big Ten’s. Lucas Davison is really the only guy who can even make Kerk break out a sweat in a match.

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Chris Snyder
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