Penn State Wrestling: Projecting the 2024-2025 starting lineup - 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

Penn State Wrestling: Projecting the 2024-2025 starting lineup

April 1 is the best time of the year to do one thing, and one thing only when you’re a fan of collegiate wrestling. And we aren’t talking about playing Penn State Wrestling related pranks.
Break out the confetti cannons and the pompoms because it’s wild speculation season, baby!
Just a mere week ago in the 2024 NCAA Championships, Penn State Wrestling put on a performance for the record books. And now it’s time to turn the page to what the lineup may look like next season, in defense of a third consecutive National Championship.
Penn State Wrestling, Cael Sanderson,
Penn State head coach Cael Sanderson (Image via HawkCentral)
I know this isn’t everyone’s favorite thing, but the transfer portal is already in full swing.
However, even though the Nittany Lions were very active last year in picking up Aaron Nagao, Mitchell Mesenbrink, Erik Gibson, and Bernie Truax, I believe this time it will be fairly quiet.
So with all of the other moving parts, this should make our predictions a little bit easier.
And with that, let’s get to it!

Prediction for the 2024-2025 Penn State Starting Lineup


In the mix: Gary Steen, Cael Nasdeo, Mason Gibson, and Luke Lilledahl
You may notice there’s a glaring omission from the above list. And that’s because I think Braeden Davis will move up to 133 next year.
So, based on this and based on his body of work so far in his young career, there is only one logical choice for this spot. He’s the reigning 57 kg U20 gold medalist at the US Open, he won silver at World’s, he’s won back-to-back Ironman’s, he recently was crowned SBLive national champion, and he’s one of the most college-ready wrestlers to come to Happy Valley.
Prediction – Luke Lilledahl


In the mix: Braeden Davis and Aaron Nagao

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.
Both Davis and Nagao were obviously starters this past season at 125 and 133 respectively. But I think they will be going head to head to see who comes out as the starter at 133.
With Davis’ frame, there’s definitely more room to grow and it just makes sense that a bump up to 133 is inevitable. So that means two guys with round of 12 finishes in the 2024 NCAA’s will be battling it out. And regardless of who wins the spot, there will be sky high expectations heaped on them.
And based on what my eyes tell me, I think there’s another clear choice here.
Prediction – Braeden Davis



In the mix: Beau Bartlett
Penn State Wrestling
Penn State Wrestling standout Beau Bartlett (Scott Pilutik For NittanyCentral)
This is a really easy one.
Each and every year Beau Bartlett has suited up for the Nittany Lions, he has made massive improvements and his hard work in the wrestling room has paid off with the results.
Bartlett has gone from national qualifier, to a third place finish in 2023, to then a runner-up finish in a week ago. He’s now a two-time All-American and he’s proven he’s one of the best to lace them up at 141 pounds.
The only big question is whether or not he comes back for his final year.
Prediction – Beau Bartlett


In the mix: Shayne Van Ness and Tyler Kasak
Penn State Wrestling
Penn State Wrestling head coach Cael Sanderson.
Shayne Van Ness should hopefully be back and better than ever following his season ending injury this past November.
Couple that with the fact Penn State has an absolute stud in Tyler Kasak.
The true freshman just did what very few collegiate wrestlers have ever done. And that’s drop their first match in the NCAA Championships and then rip off seven straight wins to wrestle back for a third place finish.
To my knowledge he’s also the only true freshman to ever accomplish this monumental feat.
So what does Cael Sanderson do with these two next year?
My gut tells me Kasak redshirts which leaves one choice.
Prediction – Shayne Van Ness


In the mix: Mitchell Mesenbrink, Erik Gibson, and Joe Sealey
Penn State Wrestling
Penn State Wrestling star MItchell Messenbrink.
Yep, again there’s a big name missing. And I think now is the time for 2024 NCAA champion Levi Haines to make the move up to 165 pounds.
Which then leaves an NCAA runner-up, a redshirt sophomore, and the No. 6 overall recruit in the 2024 recruiting class.
So again, this should be a pretty simple choice for next year. But with how the Nittany Lions have absolutely loaded up on the recruiting trail? Whew boy, it’s anyone’s guess who will occupy this spot down the road.
Prediction – Mitchell Mesenbrink


In the mix: Levi Haines
Penn State Wrestling
Penn State Wrestling standout Levi Haines (Photo by Scott Pilutik for NittanyCentral)
Levi Haines is easily one of the best pound-for-pound wrestler’s in the nation. He’s won back-to-back Big Ten titles, he finished runner-up in 2023, he’s now a national champion, and he’s a 2024 Hodge Trophy finalist.
Moving on.
Prediction – Levi Haines


In the mix: Alex Facundo and Terrell Barraclough
Well, the simple answer is that they can’t. At least not right now.
Following a disappointing finish to his 2022-2023 season, Alex Facundo took a medical redshirt this past year. You can tell he has all of the talent in the world, but can he put it all together on the mat when it really counts. That’s potentially the big question.
However there’s no question about Terrell Barraclough’s mental fortitude and guts. The dude is an unbelievable grinder.
Barraclough filled in three times this past year at 174 pounds and posted a 2-1 record. His two wins were against a former All-American and a junior Big Ten starter. And his only loss was a thrilling 2-1 decision against a former NCAA champion and a four-time All-American, Michigan’s Shane Griffith.
Decisions, decisions.
Prediction – Alex Facundo


In the mix: Josh Barr and Zack Ryder

Penn State recruited the services of Bernie Truax to fill a hole at 184 pounds this past season. And it was for sure a huge success as Truax battled hard all year and he finished in fifth place at the 2024 NCAA’s. And Bernie Truax finishes his college career as a four-time All-American.
So now what for this year?
For starters, Josh Barr was nothing short of spectacular in the 2023-2024 season. He took home titles in the Journeymen Classic, Black Knight Invite, Mat-Town Open II, and Edinboro Open. He won a 13-4 major decision in his only dual meet action and he finished the year 14-0 with a bonus percentage of 73%.
Zack Ryder is a stud in his own right, but something tells me he’s going to redshirt this coming season.
Prediction – Josh Barr


In the mix: Lucas Cochran and Connor Mirasola
No team in NCAA history has ever had to replace two four-time NCAA champions. And as Nittany Lion legend Aaron Brooks rides off into the college sunset with his four NCAA titles, it leaves a massive hole at 197 pounds.
This is going to be a very similar situation as with 184 pounds.
Penn State has a guy who’s proven he can fill in when needed and wrestle hard. But strangely enough, Lucas Cochran only filled in one time last year at 197 pounds. And that was a 20-6 major decision loss at the hands of two-time All-American Michael Beard.
Cochran did hit the mat two other times in dual meet action with both of them being at 285. To say what Lucas did in those two matches was “insane” is a gross understatement.
Lucas blanked Michigan State’s starter 5-0 in late January and then he did the unthinkable. Lucas Cochran downed a three-year college starter and 2024 All-American at 285 pounds. Cochran’s incredible 8-3 win over Rutger’s Yaraslau Slavikouski will forever be seared into my brain.
Connor Mirasola will for sure get his chance down the road, but I think this spot is locked up for someone else this coming year.
Prediction – Lucas Cochran


In the mix: Greg Kerkvliet and Cole Mirasola
Penn State Wrestling
The Nittany Lions were rather short-handed at 285 this year. As evident with Cochran having to fill in two times.
But this is also not a problem at all when you have Greg Kerkvliet holding down the slot.
Kerk was brilliant this past season in taking home both his first Big Ten title and his first NCAA title. His journey to the top is one that is filled with roadblocks, back luck, and everything in between.
However, Kerkvliet has overcome all obstacles and he’s now alone at the top of the mountain. And he’s also a finalist for the 2024 Hodge Trophy.
I predict Kerk will come back next year, win his second title, and finish as the second Nittany Lion to ever be a five-time All-American.
Prediction – Greg Kerkvlie

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