Monday, May 27, 2024

Penn State Wrestling Gets a Home Game at the U.S. Olympic Wrestling Trials

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Penn State wrestling gets a home game at the U.S. Olympic Wrestling Trials, where 16 current, former and future Nittany Lions are scheduled to compete for a trip to the 2024 Summer Olympics. The group includes an astonishing six wrestlers from Penn State’s 2024 roster that recently set a scoring record to win its third consecutive team title at the NCAA Wrestling Championships.

Here’s a look at the wrestlers from Penn State’s past, present and future who will compete at the U.S. Olympic Trials:

Nittany Lions legacies

Three-time world champ, and returning Olympic champion, David Taylor leads the way, as he seeks to defend his 86 kg freestyle title in Paris. Taylor has a bye into the best-of-three championship series finals Saturday night at the Bryce Jordan Center. The loaded 86 kg field features five other current, former or future Penn State wrestlers, including NCAA champs Mark Hall (2017) and Max Dean (2022).

Three-time NCAA champ Zain Retherford is among the favorites at 65 kg and has a bye into the challenge tournament semifinals. Two-time NCAA champ Nick Lee joins Retherford in the weight class as the challenge tournament’s top seed after representing the U.S. Team at the world championships in 2023. Three-time NCAA champ Jason Nolf is the No. 2 seed at 74 kg with two-time national champ Vincenzo Joseph seeded seventh. Nico Megaludis, Penn State’s last NCAA champion at 125 pounds, is seeded fifth at 57 kg.


Penn State’s David Taylor celebrates his victory in the 86 kg freestyle weight class at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

The 2024 Nittany Lions

Four NCAA champs, two runners-up and one redshirting wrestler from Penn State’s memorable 2024 team will make a celebratory return to the Bryce Jordan Center. Chief among them are Carter Starocci and Aaron Brooks, who recently became Penn State’s first and second four-time NCAA champions. Interestingly, both will wrestle at 86 kg. Last year, Taylor swept Brooks in the best-of-three championship series at Final X for the U.S. world team spot. This week, Brooks, the challenge tournament’s top seed, conceivably could wrestle three former or future Nittany Lions before facing Taylor in the championship series. Starocci is among them, sitting as the No. 6 seed at 86 kg.

NCAA champ Levi Haines will join teammates Mitchell Mesenbrink (second at 165 pounds) and Alex Facundo at 74 kg. Facundo took an Olympic redshirt season and placed third at the U.S. Senior Nationals in 2023. NCAA heavyweight champ Greg Kerkvliet will be a contender at 125 kg as the No. 3 seed, and NCAA runner-up Beau Bartlett, who recently announced his return to Penn State, is pre-seeded No. 5 at 65 kg.

The Nittany Lions’ future

Connor Mirasola, a four-time Wisconsin high school state champ and member of Penn State’s 2024 recruiting class, will test his skills at, where else, 86 kg. Mirasola qualified for the Olympic Trials by placing fourth at the 2023 Senior Nationals, where he defeated Dean during the competition. Mirasola, the No. 9 seed, opens against Drexel assistant coach David McFadden. If he wins, Mirasola would meet Brooks in the second round.

The 2024 U.S. Olympic Wrestling Trials are scheduled for April 19-20 at Penn State’s Bryce Jordan Center. Here’s a closer look at the event’s schedule.

AllPennState is the place for Penn State news, opinion and perspective on the SI.com network. Publisher Mark Wogenrich has covered Penn State for more than 20 years, tracking three coaching staffs, three Big Ten titles and a catalog of great stories. Follow him on Twitter @MarkWogenrich.

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