On the Mat: Penn State Wrestling's Spectacular Wins Against Big Ten Rivals

On the Mat: Penn State Wrestling's Spectacular Wins Against Big Ten Rivals

In an electrifying series of dual meets, Penn State wrestling showcased its depth and resilience against formidable opponents, including Ohio State, Iowa, and Rutgers. This trifecta of wins sets the stage for the remainder of the season with matchups against No. 4 Nebraska and Edinboro on the horizon in State College.

In front of a packed Rec Hall with over 6,600 fans, Penn State wrestled Ohio State in a high-energy dual meet. True freshman Braeden Davis kicked off the action with a narrow (some would say questionable) 4-3 victory at 125 pounds. Despite sophomore Aaron Nagao's efforts at 133, he fell to No. 12 Nic Bouzakis in a hard-fought 13-7 decision. Senior Beau Bartlett clinched a thrilling sudden victory win over No. 3 Jesse Mendez at 141 pounds, giving Penn State a 6-3 lead. True freshman Tyler Kasak dominated at 149 pounds, securing a 7-2 win over No. 9 Dylan D’Emilio. Penn State's momentum continued with Levi Haines' convincing 11-3 major at 157 pounds, extending their lead to 11-3 at halftime.

Redshirt freshman Mitchell Mesenbrink contributed with a solid 10-4 win over No. 20 Bryce Hepner at 165 pounds, further boosting Penn State's lead to 16-3. Senior Carter Starocci battled to a hard-fought 4-2 victory at 174 pounds, maintaining Penn State's advantage. However, graduate Bernie Truax's match at 184 pounds took a turn when his opponent, Ryder Rogotzke, secured a quick fall during a scramble, narrowing Penn State's lead to 19-9. Senior Aaron Brooks dominated at 197 pounds, securing a 22-6 technical fall and extending Penn State's lead to 24-9. Senior Greg Kerkvliet closed out the dual with a dominant 12-0 major decision at 285 pounds, sealing Penn State's impressive 28-9 victory.

Despite the lopsided score, this was really the first time we saw anyone in the lineup truly stumble and the closest individual match scores that we’ve seen thus far. Luckily, Penn State’s overall stamina and pure dominance allows for this. We’d rather see these lessons learned now, especially for the younger guys, than when championship season rolls around.


PSU vs Ohio State – Friday, February 2

No. 1 Penn State- 28, No. 17 Ohio State-9

125: PSU No. 3 Braeden Davis dec. OSU Vinny Kilkeary, 4-3

133: OSU No. 12 Nic Bouzakis dec. PSU No. 5 Aaron Nagao, 13-7

141: PSU No. 2 Beau Bartlett dec. OSU No. 3 Jesse Mendez, 4-1 (sv)

149: PSU No. 12 Tyler Kasak dec. OSU No. 9 Dylan D’Emilio, 7-2

157: PSU No. 1 Levi Haines maj. Dec. OSU No. 29 Isaac Wilcox, 11-3

165: PSU No. 7 Mitchell Mesenbrink dec. OSU No. 20 Bryce Hepner, 10-4

174: PSU No. 1 Carter Starocci dec. OSU No. 11 Rocco Welsh, 4-2

184: OSU Ryder Rogotzke pinned PSU No. 5 Bernie Truax, WBF (3:59)

197: PSU No. 1 Aaron Brooks tech fall OSU No. 22 Luke Geog, 22-6 (TF; 6:21)

285: PSU No. 1 Greg Kerkvliet maj. dec. OSU No. 12 Nick Feldman, 12-0

In a highly anticipated dual meet between Penn State and Iowa, the tension was palpable as both teams brought their top-ranked wrestlers to the mat. The closest score of the match came in the 149-pound bout, where Penn State's true freshman Tyler Kasak faced off against Iowa's Caleb Rathjen. Kasak rallied from behind with a late takedown, tying the bout at 8-8, but ultimately fell in sudden victory, with Rathjen securing the win with a final takedown for an 11-8 victory.

Senior Beau Bartlett, ranked No. 1, faced off against No. 2 Real Woods. Bartlett asserted control early with a takedown, taking a 3-0 lead. Despite Woods' escape, Bartlett maintained his lead into the second period. After choosing bottom, Bartlett escaped to extend his lead to 4-2. In the final period, Bartlett secured a decisive takedown with just seconds remaining, sealing a 7-2 victory in an impressive display of skill and determination.

Another closely watched matchup was at 125 pounds, where Penn State's No. 2 Braeden Davis went head-to-head against Iowa's No. 7 Drake Ayala. Despite Davis's efforts to control the center of the mat, Ayala executed a quick shoulder throw for a takedown, taking a 3-1 lead in the first. Despite Davis's escape, Ayala maintained his lead into the second period, ultimately securing a 4-2 win after a hard-fought match and handing Davis his first loss of the season.

Penn State's Levi Haines, Aaron Nagao, Mitchell Mesenbrink, Carter Starocci, Bernie Truax, Aaron Brooks, and Greg Kerkvliet delivered dominant performances, securing crucial wins for the team. Notably, No. 7 Mesenbrink upset his opponent No. 6 Michael Caliendo. His fast pace and ruthless offense continues to gas his opponents and set the stage for the second half of Penn State’s star-studded lineup.


PSU @ Iowa – Friday, February 9

No. 1 Penn State- 29, No. 6 Iowa- 6

125: IOWA No. 7 Drake Ayala dec. PSU No. 2 Braeden Davis, 4-2

133: PSU No. 6 Aaron Nagao maj. dec. IOWA No. 20 Cullan Schreiver, 12-0

141: PSU No. 1 Beau Bartlett dec. IOWA No. 2 Real Woods, 7-2

149: IOWA No. 12 Caleb Rathjen dec. PSU No. 10 Tyler Kasak, 11-8 (sv)

157: PSU No. 1 Levi Haines maj. dec. IOWA No. 5 Jared Franek, 12-0

165: PSU No. 7 Mitchell Mesenbrink dec. IOWA No. 6 Michael Caliendo, 12-6

174: PSU No. 1 Carter Starocci maj. dec. IOWA No. 7 Patrick Kennedy, 13-5

184: PSU No. 6 Bernie Truax maj. dec. IOWA Aidan Riggins, 8-0

197: PSU No. 1 Aaron Brooks dec. IOWA No. 11 Zach Glazier, 5-1

285: PSU No. 1 Greg Kerkvliet maj. dec. IOWA Ben Keuter, 9-1

Decked out in the OG pink and black colors, Penn State dominated Rutgers in a 35-3 victory in the 2024 BJC Dual, winning nine out of ten bouts. The win marked the 1000th dual meet victory in Penn State wrestling history.

True freshman Braeden Davis secured a hard-fought 4-1 sudden victory win over No. 19 Dean Peterson at 125 pounds to give Penn State an early lead. Although sophomore Aaron Nagao fell to No. 10 Dylan Shawver in sudden victory at 133 pounds, senior Beau Bartlett broke a tie in the final seconds to defeat Max Hermes 4-1 at 141 pounds, extending Penn State's lead. True freshman Tyler Kasak posted a strong 7-5 win over Michael Cetta at 149 pounds, while sophomore Levi Haines secured a first-period pin over Dylan Weaver at 157 pounds, further increasing Penn State's advantage.

Redshirt freshman Mitchell Mesenbrink dominated with an 18-3 technical fall at 165 pounds, setting the tone for the second half. Senior and unranked Terrell Barraclough moved up to 174 pounds and delivered a thrilling 4-3 win over No. 13 Jackson Turley. Graduate Bernie Truax controlled the action for all seven minutes to secure a 7-0 win at 184 pounds. Senior Aaron Brooks added a first-period pin at 197 pounds, while Lucas Cochran stepped in for No. 1 Greg Kerkvliet at 285 pounds and won with an 8-3 decision over No. 8 Yara Slavikouski.

Now, let’s take a moment to emphasize the fact that TWO unranked wrestlers moved up a weight class and beat ranked opponents in this dual meet. Let that sink in. Penn State’s lineup runs so deep that it can have smaller guys wrestling bigger and nationally ranked guys and still put them away. Barraclough’s victory is extra sweet with him being a senior who hasn’t had a steady starting place in the lineup, but has stuck it out in State College anyway. If you missed his celebration after defeating (more like dominating), No. 13 Jackson Turley in front of the BJC crowd, you’re going to want to go back and watch that again.


PSU vs Rutgers – Monday, February 12

No. 1 Penn State- 35, Rutgers- 3

125: PSU No. 2 Braeden Davis dec. RU No. 19 Dean Peterson, 4-1 (sv)

133: RU No. 10 Dylan Shawver dec. PSU No. 6 Aaron Nagao, 9-6 (sv)

141: PSU No. 1 Beau Bartlett dec. RU Max Hermes, 4-1

149: PSU No. 10 Tyler Kasak PSU dec. RU No. 26 Michael Cetta, 7-5

157: PSU No. 1 Levi Haines pinned RU Dylan Weaver, WBF (1:31)

165: PSU No. 7 Mitchell Mesenbrink tech fall RU Anthony White, 18-3 (TF; 6:52)  20-3

174: PSU Terrell Barraclough PSU dec. RU No. 13 Jackson Turley, 4-3

184: PSU No. 6 Bernie Truax dec. RU Shane Cartagena-Walsh, 7-0

197: PSU No. 1 Aaron Brooks pinned RU Michael Toranzo, WBF (1:45)

285: PSU Lucas Cochran dec. RU No. 8 Yara Slavikouski, 7-3


Coming up next, we have No. 4 Nebraska then Edinboro, both in State College to wrap up the regular season.