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 Roster Taking Shape for 2024

The dominant force that is Penn State Wrestling is now heading into its 15th season with Cael Sanderson at the helm.

It’s no secret to everyone and their brother that the Nittany Lions are showing no signs of slowing down. The projected starting lineup for the 2023-2024 campaign is stacked with talented grapplers, returning All-Americans, and prior NCAA champions.

Penn State Wrestling, Cael Sanderson
Penn State Wrestling head coach Cael Sanderson. (Image via Scott Pilutek for Nittany Central)

While we at Nittany Central have mainly highlighted the top 10-12 guys on the team, let’s take a step back and list all of the guys on the current Penn State roster.

I’ll group everyone based on their projected weight class (according to Wrestlestat), list each wrestler’s eligibility, and give a brief synopsis of what the Penn State faithful could see from that group heading into the next season.

Full Penn State Wrestling roster for 2023-2024 season


Robert Howard – sophomore Kurt McHenry – junior Gary Steen – sophomore Karl Shindledecker – redshirt freshman Cael Nasdeo – true freshman Brendan Wentzel – true freshman Marco Vespa – junior

The 125 group represents the single largest group on the entire Nittany Lion roster.

They also represent one of the largest question marks on the team heading into the coming year. The starter is most likely any one of the guys between Robbie Howard, Gary Steen, Cael Nasdeo, or Kurt McHenry.

If former NCAA qualifier, Robbie Howard, is fully healthy, it’s possible Penn State Wrestling could have a highly competitive grappler to lead off their lineup. If not, then it will be up to Gary Steen to improve from his time on the mat last year or for 2023 top 20 recruit Cael Nasdeo to try to make an immediate impact.



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.

Aaron Nagao – sophomore, Baylor Shunk – junior, Kyison Garcia – true freshman, Braedan Davis – true freshman

Before Aaron Nagao chose Penn State from the massive list of possible landing spots in the transfer portal, the 133 group could have also been listed alongside the above group in being a question mark for the coming year.

But, that can all be thrown out the window because Nagao is currently in Happy Valley and he’s currently training with the best wrestlers in the best wrestling room in the nation.

I would expect to see some appearances by Baylor Shunk and maybe a spot start or two from former 2023 No. 16 overall recruit Braedan Davis. But for the majority of the year Aaron will be the guy to lock down the 133 spot.


Penn State Wrestling
Penn State Wrestling standout Beau Bartlett (Scott Pilutik For NittanyCentral)

Beau Bartlett – junior, David Evans – junior, Timothy Levine – junior, Sean Wang – sophomore

Beau Bartlett is fresh off his first-ever All-American finish and first-ever podium finish as he took third place in the 2023 NCAA Championships.

And between David Evans, Timothy Levine, and Sean Wang, they have a total of one dual meet appearance for Penn State in their careers as Evans appeared in an extra meet against Indiana last season. So yeah, this is Beau Bartlett’s spot to command for two more seasons.


Shayne Van Ness – sophomore, Connor Pierce – redshirt freshman, Imran Heard – senior

Same as with the group of guys at 141, the 149 weight class will be a one-man show for the foreseeable future. Shayne Van Ness‘ incredible run to his third place finish in the 2023 NCAA’s was just as entertaining as it was thrilling.

Both Pierce and Heard have seen plenty of action in opens and tournaments but they have yet to suit up for the Nittany Lions in a regular-season dual meet.


Penn State Wrestling
Levi Haines of the Penn State Nittany Lions(Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire)

Levi Haines – sophomore, Terrell Barraclough – junior, Aurelius Dunbar – junior, Tyler Kasak – true freshman

It will be interesting to see how the 157 weight class shakes out down the road.

But, there’s doubt about it that NCAA runner-up Levi Haines will be the guy for the upcoming season. Don’t be shocked if Terrell Barraclough or former 2023 No. 25 recruit Tyler Kasak get some spots starts during the year to give Haines a breather at times.


Penn State Wrestling
Penn State Wrestling star MItchell Messenbrink. (Image via Scott Pilutik for NittanyCentral)

Alex Facundo – sophomore, Joe Lee – junior, Matt Lee – junior, Brian Borden – junior, Mitchell Mesenbrink – redshirt freshman

Even though Alex Facundo‘s season didn’t end anywhere near his expectations, I believe he will be the main guy at 165 once again.

And this time he will have something to prove to both himself and to the rest of the grapplers in the nation at 165.

And that’s the fact he’s one of the most talented guys at this weight class, and when the end of the year tournaments come rolling around again, he will make sure people know it. As I mentioned with the 157 class, the same is going to be true for the 165 guys in the distant future. Between Levi Haines’ potential bump in weight, Mitchell Mesenbrink‘s game-changing presence, Tyler Kasak’s talent, and top five 2024 recruit Joseph Sealey, there’s a log jam of studs that will need a place to settle in sooner than later.


Penn State Wrestling, Carter Starocci
Carter Starocci of Penn State Wrestling (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire)

Carter Starocci – junior, Konnor Kraeszig – senior, Jack Kelly – sophomore, Josh Barr – true freshman

When you have a three-time All-American, two-time Big Ten champion, and three-time NCAA champion in the mix, there’s simply no question who the starter will be.

But then when you add in an Olympic year along with a potential injury and sprinkle in aspirations to be the best in the world at everything, the water may start to get a little murky. Which is exactly what lays at the feet of all-time Nittany Lion great, Carter Starocci.

Both Konnor Kraeszig and Jack Kelly have proven they can be competitive when called upon. But there’s a vast chasm between being competitive and winning Big Ten and NCAA titles. So, if Starocci decides to not partake in the 2023-2024 season then Cael Sanderson and his staff will have to work extra hard to get Kraeszig, Kelly, or 2023 No. 8 recruit Josh Barr ready to man the spot.


Bernie Truax – senior, Donovon Ball – junior

As I’ve stated many times before, Bernie Truax uncoupled his California roots to come to Penn State and win titles.

He has one last shot to do it and there’s no better place in the country to come and train to accomplish these feats. Donovon Ball is a beast in his own right and he will fill in as necessary. However the 184 spot is Traux’s next year.


Aaron Brooks, Penn State Wrestling, USA Olympic Wrestling Trials
Penn State Wrestling’s Aaron Brooks. (Photo by Scott Pilutik, For NittanyCentral)

Aaron Brooks – senior, Lucas Cochran – sophomore, De’Leon Freeman – true freshman, Eddie Smith – junior

Penn State’s 197 slot is also manned by an all-time Nittany Lion great.

Among many other awards, Aaron Brooks‘ trophy case now has a staggering three Big Ten titles and three NCAA titles lining it. Can he be the first Penn State grappler to lock down a fourth NCAA title? Well, if Brooks is able to accomplish this feat he will most likely do it while occupying a weight just shy of 197 pounds.

However, if Brooks decides to go the Olympic path this next season, then his spot could be taken over by former three-time Utah state champion, Lucas Cochran. I seem to remember another all-time Utah high school great who did fairly well in college too. But his name seems to slip my mind at the moment.

In all seriousness, if Aaron does take an Olympic-shirt then Cochran will almost assuredly be thrust into action. And while he has proven to be competitive on the collegiate stage, Lucas is a far cry from what Aaron Brooks can do on the mat.


Penn State Wrestling

Greg Kerkvliet – junior, Austin Hoopes – senior, AJ Fricchione – true freshman

Greg Kerkvliet is a three-time All-American and in each of the last three years, he has improved his finish in the NCAA Championships.

It started with a seventh-place finish in 2021, then Kerk hit his stride and finished fourth in 2022, and the mountain of man made his first NCAA finals last year where he was upended by the 2023 Dan Hodge Trophy winner, Mason Parris.

Austin Hoopes provides stability and experience in the wrestling room while AJ Fricchione has yet to wrestle a single collegiate match. Which means Greg Kerkvliet will be the man at 285 again for this coming season and his eyes will be set on trying to win his first NCAA title.

There have been rumors that Gable Steveson may come out of retirement (for some reason) to wrestle one more year, but if this doesn’t come to be true then I don’t see anyone who can go toe to toe with Kerk.

Penn State Wrestling
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