Penn State Wrestling: Navigating the Transfer Portal with Precision

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: Navigating the Transfer Portal with Precision

Penn State Wrestling is officially in the collegiate off-season, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to completely tune out your wrestling feeds.

And no, I am not alluding to the 2024 USA Olympic Team Trials slated to take place on April 19th and 20th at the Bryce Jordan Center. Because if you’re a fan of freestyle wrestling, then you will certainly have these dates circled on your calendar.

Penn State Wrestling, Cael Sanderson,
Penn State head coach Cael Sanderson (Image via HawkCentral)

So, before I get to my main point, take a look at the list of talented guys below and tell me what they have in common.

Greg Kerkvliet
-Drew Hildebrandt
-Max Dean
-Kurt McHenry
-Erik Gibson
Aaron Nagao
Bernie Truax
Mitchell Mesenbrink

Yeah, yeah, I know. It was easy, right?

I highly doubt the services of Magnum P.I. or Columbo were needed in solving that mystery.

And if your answer was “None of those guys started their career at Penn State“, you would be correct!

The last handful of years, Cael Sanderson and his coaching staff have hit the transfer portal hard, and the Nittany Lions and its fans have reaped the rewards.

There are multiple All-Americans and two NCAA Champions from that list. And every single one of them has contributed one way or another to the team’s overall success.

Early on in his tenure in Happy Valley, Coach Sanderson rarely used the transfer portal. Granted, there were much different rules regarding eligibility back then.

But that simply hasn’t been the case lately. As the Nittany Lions have seen holes emerge in their lineup, they’ve simply gone out and snagged a competitive guy to immediately fill it.

Rinse and repeat.

And all of this culminated in last year’s ridiculous haul of Aaron Nagao, Bernie Truax, and Mitchell Mesenbrink.

I mean, can you blame any of them? The best wrestling program in the country with the best coach in the country wants you to come and wrestle for them.

Not exactly a tough sell.

<< BUY PENN STATE GEAR >>


Setting Penn State Wrestling Transfer Portal Expectations

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

So at this point you might be asking yourself, what studs are Penn State Wrestling bringing in this year?

Without owning a crystal ball or a DeLorean I can 100% confidently answer: No one.

Braeden Davis, Aaron Nagao, Tyler Kasak, Shayne Van Ness, Levi Haines, Mitchell Mesenbrink, Alex Facundo, Josh Barr, and Lucas Cochran are all returning next year. Combined with the likelihood of both Beau Bartlett and Greg Kerkvliet coming back, the Nittany Lions are going to be absolutely stacked yet again.

And this is before you add in the guys from the 2024 recruiting class (rankings based on FloWrestling).

No. 2 Luke Lilledahl
No. 5 Joe Sealey
No. 6 Zack Ryder
No. 8 Mason Gibson
No. 9 Connor Mirasola
No. 18 Cole Mirasola

Now add in the guys already committed for the 2025 class.

No. 1 PJ Duke
No. 8 William Henckel
No. 18 Nathan Desmond
No. 25 Dalton Perry
No. 92 Asher Cunningham

The conclusion is very evident.

Cael Sanderson and Penn State Wrestling have a problem.

However, it’s a problem that every single coach in every single sport in the country would take every day and twice on Sundays.

The Nittany Lions have an overabundance of talent and not enough slots for everyone to fall into. And they have otherworldly talent set to enroll this year and next.


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

Will Penn Stae Wrestling Sit Out the Transfer Portal?

Are there some highly competitive guys in the portal? Oh, for sure.

Two-time All-American Dean Hamiti transferred from Wisconsin to Oklahoma State and 2024 All-American Yaraslau Slavikouski just entered. Then you have guys like Tommy Askey and Caleb Fish still out there.

But Penn State doesn’t need any of them. With the Nittany Lions’ success on the mat the past decade plus and with their loaded recruiting classes, State College will continue to be the epicenter of collegiate wrestling. And unless something really goes wrong, I just don’t see this program needing to dip into the new world of free agency anytime soon.

Penn state Wrestling
Penn State Wrestling Head Coach Cael Sanderson (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

MORE: The Definitive PSU Wrestling Mount Rushmore

A note to our readers; If you make a purchase through one of our affiliate links, we may receive a commission.
Chris Snyder
Follow Chris