Way Too Early Big Ten Wrestling Power Rankings: Can Penn State Wrestling Dominate Again? - 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

Way Too Early Big Ten Wrestling Power Rankings: Can Penn State Wrestling Dominate Again?

Big Ten Wrestling Power Rankings in early early summer? Surely you can’t be serious, Chris. Yes, yes I am. And don’t call me Shirley. During the 2022-2023 season, the Big Ten saw some big changes in the pecking order as perennial doormats climbed out of the basement and several one-time wrestling powerhouses fell on hard times. So with that, let’s take a look at how I think the Big Ten currently stacks up with each team’s returning All-Americans, transfer portal additions/subtractions, and incoming recruiting class. Is there a team next year that can knock the Penn State Wrestling Team off of their pedestal?

Way Too Early Big Ten Power Rankings for the 2023-2024 season … Where does Penn State Wrestling Stand?
14. Purdue

Record last year: 4-11Returning All-Americans: 1125 Matt Ramos (2nd) Transfer additions: 1Joey Milano (184) – NC State Transfer losses: 1Nathaniel Camiscioli (157) – undecided 2023 Recruiting class ranking: 21Commits: 1Top 100 commits: 1No. 32 Joey Blaze (165) Not too much to say about the Boilermakers other than the fact their program is a shell of it’s former self. Purdue went 4-11 last year with two All-Americans on its roster with Matt Ramos and Parker Filius. Filius is unfortunately out of eligibility and the Boilermakers haven’t been able to pull in much talent on the recruiting trail of late. Picking up Joey Milano from NC State will be a welcome addition to the back end of their lineup, but that’s about where all of the good news ends.

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13. Northwestern

Record last year: 7-3Returning All-Americans: 0 Transfer additions: 1Patrick Adams (125) – Buffalo Transfer losses: 5Michael DeAugustino (125) – MichiganChris Cannon (133) – MichiganLucas Davison (285) – MichiganJustin Benjamin (149) – undecidedErich Byelick (165) – undecided 2023 Recruiting class ranking: NRCommits: 2Top 100 commits: 0 The time that Northwestern has been a big time player in Big Ten Wrestling is officially over. Next year’s version of Northwestern isn’t just going to be bad, it’s going to be potentially historically awful. The last time the Wildcats had a team like this was eight years ago when they finished 2-13 in the 2015-2016 season. And they will be lucky to get to more than two wins. The reason? Well, it’s pretty darn simple. All three Northwestern All-Americans, Michael DeAugustino (2022), Chris Cannon (2021-2022), and Lucas Davison (2022-2023), decided to transfer to Michigan. And 2021 All-American Yahya Thomas is out of college eligibility. The only competitive grapplers the Wildcats can throw out on the mat next season are Frankie Tal-Shahar and Troy Fisher. And to make matters worse, according to Wrestlestat, Northwestern will potentially have four wrestlers ranked outside of the top 100 in their starting lineup. Not only has the talent dried up on their active roster, the Wildcats haven’t exactly been lighting the recruiting trail on fire either. Northwestern was not ranked anywhere near the top 25 in both the 2022 and 2023 recruiting cycles. In the most recent cycle they brought in two guys but neither of them are ranked inside the top 100. Woof.

12. Indiana

Record last year: 8-5Returning All-Americans: 0 Transfer additions: 0 Transfer losses: 1Jacob Kaminski (285) – undecided 2023 Recruiting class ranking: NRCommits: 4Top 100 commits: 1No. 77 Sam Goin (157/165) While the Hoosiers don’t have any returning All-Americans, they do return a fairly strong squad going into next season. At least by Indiana’s wrestling standards. Graham Rooks was the highest finisher for the Hoosiers in the 2023 NCAA’s as he made the round of 12 group at 149. And Donnell Washington finished the year going 25-9 with a finish in the round of 16 at 174. Between Rooks, Washington, Derek Gilcher (157), Nick Willham (197), and Jacob Bullock (285), Indiana may actually be a team to not take lightly next year.

11. Michigan State

Record last year: 10-6Returning All-Americans: 0 Transfer additions: 0 Transfer losses: 2Jacob Halsey (174) – undecidedJeremy Sarter (125) – undecided 2023 Recruiting class ranking: NRCommits: 5Top 100 commits: 2No. 44 Remy Cotton (197)No. 89 Luke Vanadia (89) Sparty also has a giant goose egg in the “Returning All-American” column, but between Chase Saldate’s and Caleb Fish’s round of 12 finish in the 2023 NCAA Championships, Michigan State may have a decent team next year. Adding Tristan Lujan (125), Layne Malczewski (184), Kael Wisler (197), and Josh Terrill (285) into the mix, their combined record of 75-32 speaks for itself. And what it says about the Spartans is “We aren’t great, but we also aren’t terrible. But, every single person on the team could tie Chris Snyder around a telephone pole.” Enough said.

10. Maryland

Record last year: 10-9Returning All-Americans: 0 Transfer additions: 1Seth Nevills (285) – Penn State Transfer losses: 3Alex Adler (149) – undecidedJackson Cockrell (133) – undecidedAdrien Cramer (184) – undecided 2023 Recruiting class ranking: 24Commits: 1Top 100 commits: 1No. 44 Dario Lemus (141) Make no mistake about it, Maryland Wrestling is no longer the laughing stock of the Big Ten. Just how bad was Maryland in the past? How about a combined record of 28-105 from 2015-2022. They were bad. But, the Terrapins put together their first winning record since 2014 and the return a slew of talent between Braxton Brown (125), Kal Miller (141), Ethen Miller (149), Michael North (157), and Jaxon Smith (197). Oh, and Maryland recently acquired the services of former Penn State hammer, Seth Nevills. I’ll make two predictions for next year’s Terrapins team, they will have another winning record and they will have more than one All-American once the dust settles at the end of the season.

9. Rutgers

Record last year: 10-7Returning All-Americans: 0 Transfer additions: 2Jacob Butler (157) – OklahomaYaraslau Slavikouski (285) – Harvard Transfer losses: 2Boone McDermott (285) – undecidedAaron Kurzer (125) – undecided 2023 Recruiting class ranking: NRCommits: 2Top 100 commits: 0 And once again, we have a Big Ten team returning zero All-Americans. But take a look at what a portion of the Scarlet Knights lineup may look like next season:125 Dean Peterson 25-11 (R12 2023 NCAA Tournament)133 Dylan Shawver 12-5 (R16 2022 NCAA Tournament)141 Joey Olivieri 14-7149 Jacob Butler 14-8157 Andrew Clark 20-17174 Jackson Turley 11-14 (8th 2021 NCAA Tournament)197 John Poznanski 8-1 (4th 2021 NCAA Tournament)285 Yaraslau Slavikouski 30-6 (R12 2023 NCAA Tournament) So, that’s two former All-Americans from the 2021 NCAA Championships and three other guys who’ve made deep runs in the NCAA Championships. If Jackson Turley can shrug off his injury issues from the past two years and Joey Olivieri, Jacob Butler, and Andrew Clark can round into shape, then Rutgers could make a substantial jump up my Power Rankings in the future.

8. Minnesota

Record last year: 12-3Returning All-Americans: 0 Transfer additions: 0 Transfer losses: 4Aaron Nagao (133) – Penn StateTroy Sprately (125) – Oklahoma StateKeaton Kluever (285) – undecidedMarcos Polanco (149) – undecided 2023 Recruiting class ranking: 11Commits: 2Top 100 commits: 2No. 10 Gavin Nelson (197)No. 36 Max McEnelly (184) The Golden Gophers, even by their standards, had an okay year last season. They had two grapplers with eligibility remaining finish as All-Americans and they had two other guys have finishes in the round of 12. But, unfortunately for Minnesota, both of the All-Americans will not be wrestling for them as Aaron Nagao transferred to Penn State and Michael Blockhus is skipping his last year to get a head start on his MMA career. As for the round of 12 finishers, only Isaiah Salazar is back due to Bailee O’Reilly running out of eligibility. So, 2023-2024 could be a rough one for the Golden Gophers even though they still have two time All-American (2021-2022) Patrick McKee and 2021 All-American Brayton Lee. And coming off his horrible injury at the end of the 2021-2022 season, Lee came back last year and did not look anywhere near like the same guy that was bulldozing people the year before. Brayton was 4-7 in the regular season, promptly got pinned, and then lost in overtime in the 2023 Big Ten Championships. The back-to-back losses ended his tournament and ended his season since he was nowhere close to getting an at-large big into the NCAA’s. Furthermore, the Golden Gophers will be breaking in a handful of non-competitive wrestlers at various weight classes next year. I’m sorry, Minnesota fans, but next year is going to be a long season.

7. Illinois

Record last year: 6-7Returning All-Americans: 0 Transfer additions: 0 Transfer losses: 5Jacob Reicin (157) – undecidedHayden Halter (141) – undecidedMaximo Renteria (125) – undecidedRonald Sizemore (174) – undecidedWilliam Spassov (157) – undecided 2023 Recruiting class ranking: 12Commits: 5Top 100 commits: 2No. 14 Kannon Webster (141)No. 29 Braeden Scoles (165) Just like Minnesota may experience a downturn this coming season, the Fighting Illini should be markedly better than they were in 2022-2023. Illinois returns Lucas Byrd, Edmond Ruth, and Zac Braunagel who all had deep runs in the round of 12 in the 2023 NCAA’s. Additionally, talented sophomore Dylan Connell could make some waves in the Big Ten at 184 even though he had a bit of an up and down season last year. And the Fighting Illini get their big man back as Luke Luffman used a redshirt last season, and assuming everything is right with him, he’ll be back and better than ever. If Justin Cardani, Danny Pucino, and Danny Braunagel somehow take big steps forward, then it’s possible Illinois could move up some spots in the rankings. But, trust me, starting with the next team, the sledding starts to get very tough.

6. Wisconsin

Record last year: 8-8Returning All-Americans: 2165 Dean Hamiti285 Trent Hillger Transfer additions: 0 Transfer losses: 2James Rowley (174) – undecidedTyler Dow (184) – undecided 2023 Recruiting class ranking: 25Commits: 2Top 100 commits: 1No. 47 Greyson Clark By looking at the above stats, it doesn’t appear that the Badgers are head and shoulders above even Illinois. But, looks can be deceiving. Wisconsin will also return two time All-American Eric Barnett (R12 last year), 2022 All-American Austin Gomez (R16 last year), and super competitive Braxton Amos. Teaming these guys with Dean Hamiti and Trent Hillger will make the Badgers a difficult team to match up with. And this is before adding in the talented youngster in Dylan Coy (133) and an experienced grappler, Joseph Zargo, who is on the tipping point of breaking through. Wisconsin is the proverbial line in the sand in regards to these Power Rankings. Every team prior to them has a ton of question marks and every team after them is loaded with talent … and some questions.

5. Ohio State

Record last year: 13-3Returning All-Americans: 3133 Jesse Mendez141 Dylan D’Emilio149 Sammy Sasso Transfer additions: 0 Transfer losses: 1Bryer Hall (174) – undecided 2023 Recruiting class ranking: 6Commits: 3Top 100 commits: 2No. 4 Rocco Welsch (174/184)No. 27 Vinny Kilkeary (133) The Buckeyes are in a bit of a rebuilding mode as the trio of Ethan Smith (2x All-American 2021 & 2023), Kaleb Romero (2x All-American 2022-2023), and Tate Orndorff (All-American 2021 and 2x R12 finisher) ride off into the collegiate sunset. And it won’t be easy for Ohio State to fill their shoes in the lineup. Past All-American, Carson Kharchla (2022), could bump up to 174 to take Smith’s spot, which would then allow Bryce Hepner to occupy the 165 spot. And following a redshirt season last year, Seth Shumate should be locked and loaded to take over at 184 for Romero. But it would be a massive stretch to say both Hepner and Shumate will be anywhere as close as good as Smith and Romero were. Currently, Ohio State doesn’t appear to have any competitive options at heavyweight. Nick Feldman (285) was the overall No. 1 recruit in 2022 according to FloWrestling, but he redshirted the prior year and didn’t appear in any opens or invitationals. So maybe he will be the guy for the Buckeyes? The big question is will he be ready for the grind that is the 285 group in the Big Ten? Time will tell. And this is all before we talk about what Ohio State will do with former No. 4 overall recruit Nic Bouzakis and returning All-Americans Jesse Mendez and Dylan D’Emilio. It’s doubtful Bouzakis can cut to 125, which means Ohio State will need to find someone to fill Malik Heinselman’s spot at 125, and they will need to figure out what to do at 133 and 141. The most likely scenario will be for Bouzakis to go at 133, D’Emilio to stay at 141, and for Mendez to redshirt. Which further hurts the Buckeyes next year. But, the future still looks good for Tom Ryan as they’ve landed the No. 1 recruiting class in 2022, the No. 6 class in 2023, and commitments from both the No. 3 (Benjamin Davino) and No. 23 (Ethan Birden) recruits in the 2024 class.

4. Michigan

Record last year: 11-4Returning All-Americans: 2157 Will Lewan165 Cameron Amine Transfer additions: 4Shane Griffith (165) – StanfordMichael DeAugustino (125) – NorthwesternChris Cannon (133) – NorthwesternLucas Davison (285) – Northwestern Transfer losses: 4Chance Lamer (149) – Cal PolyKurt McHenry (125) – undecidedPatrick Nolan (141) – undecidedNick Freeman (149) – undecided 2023 Recruiting class ranking: 2Commits: 5Top 100 commits: 5No. 15 Caden Horwath (133)No. 20 Hayden Walters (197/285)No. 21 Sergio Lemely (133/141)No. 22 Beau Mantanona (141/149)No. 38 Dylan Gilcher (149) Next year’s Wolverine’s squad might as well be called the “Michiwestern WolverineCats” as they acquired the services of three former All-Americans in Michael DeAugustino, Chris Cannon, and Lucas Davison from Northwestern. Just take a look at the transfers they locked up and their past accomplishments:Michael DeAugustino – 2022 All-American (4th) and R12 in 2021Chris Cannon – 2021 All-American (7th) and 2022 All-American (7th)Shane Griffith – 2021 NCAA Champion, 2022 NCAA Runner-up, 2023 All-American (5th)Lucas Davison – 2022 All-American (6th) and 2023 All-American (2023) Michigan is absolutely a threat to take out some of the top teams in the Big Ten next year with their impacts transfers and returning All-Americans, Will Lewan and Cameron Amine. But this isn’t to say the Wolverines may have a couple of holes in their lineup next season as they lost the 2023 NCAA Champion at 285, Mason Parris. Furthermore, Round of 12 finisher, Chance Lamer, is headed to Cal Poly which means Fidel Mayora will most likley take over at 149. Unless No. 38 overall recruit in the 2023 class, Dylan Gilcher, is ready to go. From what people are saying in Ann Arbor, Gilcher has a body more suited for 157 down the road, so 149 may not even be an option. Rylan Rogers and Brendin Yatooma will take over at 184 and 197 respectively, however they have been far from competitive during their time at Michigan. The Wolverines’ lineup next year will be scary at best and top five in the country at worst. Depending on how things shake out with the next three teams, I can see a scenario in which they may even contend for a Big Ten title.

3. Iowa

Record last year: 15-1Returning All-Americans: 3141 Real Woods174 Nelson Brands285 Tony Cassioppi Transfer additions: 1Victor Voinovich (149) – Oklahoma State Transfer losses: 0 2023 Recruiting class ranking: 1Commits: 4Top 100 commits: 4No. 5 Nate Jesuroga (125)No. 6 Gabe Arnold (174)No. 9 Ben Kueter (285)No. 41 Ryder Block (141/149) The Hawkeyes finally lose their stranglehold on the 125 spot as college all-time great Spencer Lee’s career is over in Iowa City. All-American Max Murin’s time is also done for Iowa, however Brands and Co. brought in a 2023 NCAA round of 16 finisher, Victor Voinovich, to take over the void at 149. Just like Ohio State, the Hawkeyes are also in rebuilding mode this coming season. But they will still have a very good lineup from top to bottom. Both Drake Ayala and Brody Teske are competitive grapplers at 125 and 133. And obviously Real Woods and Tony Cassioppi represent the best chance for Iowa to capture any individual titles next year. But the rest of the starting 10 is filled with good but not great wrestlers as Cole Siebrecht (157), Patrick Kennedy (165), Nelson Brands (174), and Abe Assad (184) give the Hawkeyes good chances for some high NCAA finishes. Top 50 recruit in the 2022 recruiting cycle, Kolby Franklin, could take over for Jacob Warner at 197. But then again so could Zach Glazier. Either way Iowa won’t have anyone at 197 with the wrestling ability of Warner. Tom Brands has done his fair share of work in recruiting with Iowa bringing in the No. 1 class in 2023. And with the former overall No. 1 recruit in the 2022 class, Cody Chittum, reclassifying for 2023, the Hawkeyes have four of the top nine recruits in the country. These guys will definitely be big time contributors in the future. However, they won’t be much help for the upcoming season.

2. Nebraska

Record last year: 12-3Returning All-Americans: 2141 Brock Hardy157 Peyton Robb Transfer additions: 1Caleb Smith (125) – App State Transfer losses: 7Cameron Graham (157) – Nebraska-KearneyQuinten Chavez (125) – undecidedLogan Velledor (125) – undecidedNathan Wemstrom (197) – undecidedNicholas Stoltenberg (157) – undecidedDayne Morton (149) – undecidedRoman Schwab (285) – undecided 2023 Recruiting class ranking: 16Commits: 4Top 100 commits: 3No. 39 Kael Lauridsen (125)No. 43 Alan Koehler (125)No. 86 Weston Dalton (149) The Cornhuskers could be an interesting team next year based on several factors. The first of which is how they will deal with the departure of All-Americans Liam Cronin and Mikey Labriola. Mark Manning and crew took care of the open spot at 125 as they brought in two time NCAA qualifier Caleb Smith from App State. But the huge hole left behind by four time All-American Mickey Labriola at 174 is simply insurmountable. The only option Nebraska really has is Elise Brown Ton, and while he’s a solid wrestler, it’s going to be a bit of a step back for them. The other huge question is how is Peyton Robb’s health and is there any chance he can suit up next year. For those of you who don’t know, the two time All-American was hospitalized shortly after the conclusion of the 2023 NCAA Championships due to a skin infection. And the situation turned dire for the talented grappler as Robb detailed in a news release sent out in early April through the Nebraska Athletics website. Peyton detailed the barrage of issues he faced and how his training in wrestling essentially saved his life. “With the mental side of wrestling comes the physical. During much of my time in the hospital, I had a variety of issues at any time that we were trying to deal with. Things were not looking great early on in my stay; my body had been in sepsis, I had acute heart failure, kidney failure and hypotensive blood pressure, among other things. I spoke with multiple doctors during this time and more than once I was told that if not for the shape that my body was in, I could have ended up much worse, or even dead. The physical demand that I’ve gone through for all my wrestling training has paid off in much more than just wrestling.” That is truly scary stuff to read. I for one wish Peyton a speedy recovery and I would love to see him back on the mat next season. Now, going back to the Cornhusker lineup. Kyle Burwick and Brock Hardy should have the 125 and 133 spots locked down and following a redshirt in 2023, the NCAA runner-up in 2022 at 149, Ridge Lovett, should also be back. Round of 16 finisher Bubba Wilson will go at 165, NCAA qualifier Lenny Pinto is back at 184, and round of 12 finisher Silas Allred is good to go at 197. Nebraska’s only real weakness appears to be the heavyweight spot. No. 36 overall recruit in 2022, Harley Andrews, had a very impressive redshirt season last year by going a combined 22-2 in various opens, invitationals, and in a lone dual meet match. How was his result in the lone dual meet match? Not exactly great. Andrews was pinned by the Fighting Illini’s four year starter, Matt Wroblewski, who finished his career with a losing record. So, if Brock Hardy can build on his sixth place finish in the 2023 NCAA’s, and if Peyton Robb is healthy and back, and if Ridge Lovett is the same or even a better version of his 2022 self, and if Caleb Smith can take several steps forward at 125, and if Wilson or Pinto or Allred can breakout, and if Andrews becomes a competitive grappler at 285, then it’s very possible the Cornhuskers could compete for a Big Ten and even an NCAA title next year. But that’s an awful lot of “ifs”.

1. Penn State

Record last year: 16-0Returning All-Americans: 6141 Beau Bartlett149 Shayne Van Ness157 Levi Haines174 Carter Starocci184 Aaron Brooks285 Greg Kerkvliet Transfer additions: 3Aaron Nagao (133) – MinnesotaMitchell Mesenbrink (157/165) – Cal BaptistBernie Truax (197) – Cal Poly Transfer losses: 2Seth Nevills (285) – MarylandWill Betancourt (133) – undecided 2023 Recruiting class ranking: 3Commits: 5Top 100 commits: 4No. 8 Josh Barr (174/184)No. 16 Braeden Davis (125/133)No. 18 Cael NasdeoNo. 25 Tyler Kasak (149/157) The only other team in the Big Ten to rival Michigan in terms of transfer additions is without a doubt the Nittany Lions. Three time All-American, Bernie Truax, was the first to pull the trigger in April. And then the back-to-back US Open champion and U20 Worlds silver medalist, Mitchell Mesenbrink, gave his commitment to Cael Sanderson. Next up it was Aaron Nagao‘s  turn to crush the dreams of many wrestling fanbases as the 2023 All-American at 133 also committed to Penn State Wretling. This means the Nittany Lions return six All-Americans, added two All-Americans from the portal, and added a potential future All-American and individual title contender. But this doesn’t mean there aren’t any questions for next year’s Penn State Wrestling team. Far from it. Who’s going to be the main guy at 125? Is Robbie Howard finally healthy? Well it be Gary Steen again? Or Karl Shindledecker or maybe Cael Nasdeo? And what about the log jam Penn State has at 157 and 165? The Nittany Lions have NCAA runner-up Levi Haines, No. 25 recruit Tyler Kasak, mega-transfer Mitch Mesenbrink, and highly competitive grappler Alex Facundo between the two weight classes. It’s definitely a good “problem” to have and I’m sure Cael Sanderson will make the right decision there. The other big question surrounding the Nittany Lions camp is what will Carter Starocci and Aaron Brooks do next season. Will one or both of them take the year off to train for the Olympics? Or neither of them? And what about the injury Carter Starocci suffered in the recent US Open? Does it impact his decision for next year? As for Brooks, if he does wrestle for the Nittany Lions next season, will be go up to 197? And if this happens how will it impact his title hopes? I told you there were some questions about Penn State. But, there is one thing that is absolutely not in question, and that is how good Cael Sanderson and his coaching staff are at their jobs. And there are not any questions about who the best team is in the Big Ten and in the country. Because it’s the Penn State Nittany Lions. Period.

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