Major: Recreation, Park and Tourism Management
Hometown: Inver Grove Heights, Minn.
Penn State Career
Kerkvliet began his Nittany Lion career late in the 2019-2020 season as he suited up in nine matches in the Shorty Hitchcock Classic and Mat Town Open.
Then in his redshirt freshman campaign, it appeared Greg would not wrestle for Penn State due to him trying to overcome staph infections and a life-threatening blood clot. But against all odds, Kerklviet did get on the mat that year. And not only did he merely get on the mat, but Kerk suited up for 14 totals matches and he finished seventh in the 2021 NCAA Championships thus being crowned an All-American for the first time in his career.
Last year Kerkvliet competed in 25 matches, finished fourth at the 2022 NCAA’s, and was an All-American in back-to-back years.
So far this season, Greg is 13-1 and he is looking to lock down his first podium finish of his Nittany Lion career.
Prior to Penn State
Prior to Greg finally landing at University Park, he wrestled for Simley High School in Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota. There he was a four time Minnesota state champion and had only one loss during his sophomore and junior seasons.
Kerk had a perfect senior year and he capped off his fourth state title by pinning his finals opponent in the first period.
On the national stage, Greg was a two time finalist in the Cadet World Championships as he won the title in 2017 and finished runner-up in 2018. During the 2018 season, Kerkvliet was also crowned a USA Junior National Champion.
Greg qualified for the U23 World Wrestling Championships and his hard work and experience paid off as he made it all the way to the bronze medal match.
In an interview Kerkvliet did with Rokfin he details why he chose Penn State over the other schools interested in him, “I chose Penn State because we have the best staff, with the best practice partners in the world.”
Greg says he doesn’t remember the exact age he started wrestling but it was sometime before kindergarten. And while he participated in football and soccer growing up, Kerkvliet dropped all of them in middle school so that he could focus solely on wrestling. He says his favorite memory of his time as a youth wrestler was traveling and competing in national tournaments.
Away from the wrestling mat Greg is a big gamer and he enjoys rock climbing and watching comedy and action movies. Kerk’s greatest video game accomplishment is his on-going mission of being the best at UFC 4.
Speaking of the UFC, Greg’s career goal following his time on the wrestling mat is to have an MMA career and he also has plans to open a youth wrestling club. And according to Kerkvliet, “I’m the best UFC 4 player in state college, arguably. My best competition is probably Aaron Brooks.”
I’m guessing this would surprise most Penn State Wrestling fans. Or maybe not …
But what does surprise me the most about Greg is that his favorite piece of clothing is his large and growing hat collection. Hats don’t generally come to mind when you think about favorite pieces of clothing, but I’m not going to judge someone who could wrap me up into a pretzel just by looking at me.
Like a lot of his teammates, Greg knows his way around a kitchen. He says his specialty is cooking up steak and that ribeye is usually his go-to favorite. Hmm, it sounds like Max Dean and Kerkvliet must dine together a lot!