The 2023 US Open Championships wrapped up last night in Las Vegas and to say the Penn State Wrestling Team was “well represented” would be an insult to each of those words and to the entire English language.
Could I come up with more apt words to describe the results from the incoming Nittany Lions? No, because I am a simple man and I only possess a limited language base which includes movie quotes, Bo Nickal quotes, and various sports sayings.
Obviously several current Penn State grapplers took part in the action as Aaron Brooks hoisted the title at 86 kg and an injured Carter Starocci finished 6th at 79 kg. But how about the results for some future Nittany Lions?
So, with that, let’s take a look at how the Penn State commits fared in the wrestling-fueled fanfare at the 2023 US Open.
How Incoming Penn State Wrestling Commits Fared at US Open
2023 Recruiting/Transfer Class
Cael Nasdeo – 57 kg – 6th
Tyler Kasak – 65 kg – 1st
Mitch Mesenbrink – 74 kg – 1st
Josh Barr – 79 kg – 5th
Coming off his title at 126 lbs in the 2023 USA Wrestling Folkstyle Nationals in Cedar Falls, Iowa, Cael Nasdeo was named the USA Wrestling Athlete of the Week. And prior to that, Nasdeo won the Pennsylvania AAA state title at 121 while wrestling for neighboring Centre County school, Williamsport. Nasdeo is now ranked as the No. 18 overall recruit in the 2023 class per FloWrestling.
Cael then kept the momentum going as he flipped his recent success into a fantastic run at the U20 US Open. Nasdeo plowed his way through to the semi finals where he matched up against fellow Nittany Lion commit, Luke Lilledahl (2024 class). Obviously things didn’t go Nasdeo’s way but the future certainly looks bright for both Cael and for Penn State Wrestling..
Both incoming freshman Tyler Kasak and incoming redshirt freshman Mitch Mesenbrink (transfer) had a 2023 US Open to absolutely remember!
Kasak came in as the No. 5 seed at 65 kg and he cruised into the quarterfinals by winning his first three matches by a combined score of 29-5. Then in the quarters, Kasak stood toe-to-toe with State College standout and 2022 PIAA state champion, Pierson Manville (brother of Mason Manville). And in the tightly contested contest, Tyler was able to sneak by Manville 8-6 to punch his ticket into the semi finals against the No. 1 seed, Vince Cornella.
It was another nail-biter for Kasak but he proved to be the best man on the day by taking down Cornella 4-3 and it was onto a finals matchup against the No. 2 seed, Kannon Webster.
But unfortunately for Webster, Tyler simply had his number and he breezed to the 15-7 win and Kasak was crowned the 2023 US Open champion!
Mesenbrink’s road was a little less bumpy than Kasak’s as he did not allow an opponent to score a single point on him until the semi finals. And in that match Mitch flew by 12-1. His only real “struggle”, and I’m using this word very loosely, was in the finals matchup against No. 3 seed, Hunter Garvin.
Mitch Mesenbrink still won his finals match by double digits (16-6) and the combined total for his 6 match winning streak was 74-7. Just another day on the job for the 2023 US Open champion.
Josh Barr was the No. 2 seed at 79 kg and he simply ran into a buzz saw in his round of 16 match against the No. 15 seed, Luca Augustine. I’m not sure if Luca was improperly seeded or if he just caught a heater, but the No. 15 lost in the semi finals and ended up finishing third.
Either way, the loss for Barr dropped him to the consolation bracket where he promptly won four straight matches. His prize for the four wins? Another matchup against Augustine with the winner advancing to the third place match.
As you can probably tell by the “5th” next to his name, Barr did drop his second match to Luca, but this time it was much closer (4-1). And in the barn-burner that was the fifth place match, Josh came out on top 16-10.
2024 Recruiting Class
Luke Lilledahl – 57 kg – 1st
Joe Sealey – 74 kg – 3rd
Zack Ryder – 80 kg – 1st (U17 title)
Connor Mirasola – 86 kg – 5th
Cole Mirasola – 92 kg – 5th
After downing Cael Nasdeo in the semi finals, Luke Lilledahl dispatched of the No. 1 seed at 57 kg, Jore Volk, to the tune of 10-4. Lilledahl’s only bump in the road came in his quarter finals match where he just squeezed past Conrad Hendriksen on criteria after the match was knotted at 2-2 at the end of regulation. Other than that, it was smooth sailing for the future Nittany Lion.
Joe Sealey has been listed by several recruiting services as the overall No. 1 recruit in the 2024 class. And even though he didn’t take home the title at the 2023 US Open, he still wrestled a fantastic tournament.
Sealey’s lone loss of the tournament came at the hands of Hunter Garvin in the semis, 14-11. But as we already mentioned, Mesenbrink avenged his fellow Nittany Lion by crushing Garvin in the finals.
In the consolation bracket, Joe made quick work of his two foes and finished on the podium with a third place finish.
Zack Ryder, the youngster of the 2024 bunch, was able to compete in the U17 portion of the tournament due to, well, his age being 17. That’s a simple enough explanation, right?
Anyway, Ryder completely smoked the competition at 80 kg as he outscored his opponents 46-1 on his way to the 2023 US Open title. There’s really nothing more to say than that.
I guess we can give Adam Waters the runner-up OW award as he was the only guy to score a single point against Ryder. Congrats Adam! (please don’t hurt me)
And at 86 kg and 92 kg the Mirasola twins also had good runs as both Connor and Cole finished in fifth place.
Connor and Cole were both upended in the quarter finals and each grappler fought back in the consolation bracket to make the semis. And it’s fitting that both of the twins lost in the semi finals and then took care of business in their fifth place matches.
In the end, what an incredible showing for the next two incoming classes for the Penn State Wrestling team. If the Nittany Lion fans aren’t already used to winning, then just wait until this group of youngsters puts on a show in Rec Hall.