Wrapping up our profile series at Victory Bell Rings which details all of the wrestlers on the Penn State roster for 2022-2023
We are finally onto our last edition of the “Inside the Singlet” series here at VBR which profiles the entire Penn State Wrestling squad. It has been an amazing journey to get to know these young men and who they are in and around wrestling as well as away from the sport.
This time we are going to take a look at the Nittany Lion grapplers at the 197 and 285 pound classes.
Here we go!
Hometown: Lowell, Mich.
Penn State Career
Dean began his wrestling career following in the footsteps of his older brother, Gabe, and suited up for the Cornell Bears. Max took part in 69 matches in two seasons with Cornell between 2017-2019.
He then wrestled unattached in the 2019-2020 season for Spartan Combat RTC and redshirted the following year before joining Cael Sanderson and the Nittany Lions last season. And so far in his brief Penn State career, Dean has squared off in 44 total matches and this includes winning a Big Ten title and bringing home his first ever NCAA title last year.
Prior to Penn State
Before heading off to college, Dean was an outstanding wrestler for Lowell High School in Michigan. There he was a two time Michigan State Champion and he was named the Grand Rapids Press Wrestler of the Year following his final year in high school.
In an interview Max did with Rokfin, he opened up about why he chose to transfer to Penn State after his Junior year at Cornell.
“I chose Penn State for mainly three reasons. First, it was the obvious destination to reach my wrestling goals – the track record of success at the collegiate and world level of the coaches and other athletes here speaks for itself. Second, it was easy to tell that the staff here were people of high character that would have a positive influence on my development as a person, and also that they would have my back. Third, it was clear to me that the athletic programs were an important piece of the Penn State community. I appreciated that they had maintained competition and opportunities for athletes when other conferences decided to cancel.”
Dean comes from a family of wrestlers as I already mentioned his older brother and two time NCAA Champion, Gabe. But his father, David Dean, both wrestled and coached at the college level.
Max indicated that he always looked up to his father and that he always wanted to be like him. So it’s no surprise he took up wrestling around the age of five or six. For Dean it was an easy choice to be a wrestler and he’s blessed that it has molded such an enormous part of his life.
His most cherished memory as a youth wrestler was when he won the Myway State title while in the third grade. At that point Max thought he had made the big time, but looking back now, it’s clearly far from the truth.
Away from the wrestling mat, Dean played football all throughout high school. He remembers it being a blast and that he has many great memories playing it with his friends in school. His greatest non-wrestling sports memory was making the state finals in football because it was amazing to accomplish that with all of his friends his senior year.
Max also shares a passion that fellow Nittany Lion wrestlers also enjoy. And that’s cooking.
“Early in my life (I wanted) to make my parents and family proud. They have given me so much more than I could ever repay, so just making the most of everything they have provided me with has always bee, and still is, a huge motivating factor for me. As I have grown older, I also think I have become more motivated by just trying to do the right thing. There is nothing that can bring you more joy than having a positive impact on the world around you, and when I think of what I want to get out of my life it is mainly that I always did what I believed was right, even when it was hard, and that I left the places and the people I was around better off than I found them.”
Dean admits his love of cooking and that his specialty is a smoked or grilled meat, with a steak being simply the best piece of food to grill. Coincidentally his favorite food is a thick and perfectly cooked ribeye. But Max also enjoys sushi from time to time and his favorite meal is a reverse seared ribeye, baked potatoes, and kale salad.
Being outside, playing card games, and enjoying a good book are also some of Max’s hobbies. And on the movie screen he likes to watch anything with a great story and message. But his go-to genre is definitely Mafia movies with Goodfellas and The Departed being the first two to come to his mind.
A skill Dean possesses which would surprise most fans is his ability to run long distances at a very quick pace. Max admits his short frame is not exactly conducive to being a good runner, but he will go on long runs when he gets the chance.
On how tidy Max is as a roommate, “I have one ‘roommate’, my wife Hannah. She is definitely tidier than I am, but I do my best.”
If there was one family member Dean would brag about, it’s without a doubt his sister, Cassandra. Being a Fashion Design and Acting Major while at SCAD in Savannah, Georgia, Max admits he understands very little about the field but he can appreciate how amazing she is at it. He knows he’s biased but Dean loves seeing the art she produces and he believes she is incredibly talented.