Now that the calendar has flipped to late March, it means one thing and one thing only.
It’s wrestling silly season time!
So with that, let’s take a way too early look at what next year’s team MIGHT look like.
2023-2024 Penn State Wrestling Lineup … possibly
Robbie Howard/Gary Steen/Gary Shindledecker/Marco Vespa
Your guess is as good as any here. I honestly have no idea who will be the starting guy at 125 for Cael Sanderson and crew next year. If Howard is even close to 100% then he will clearly be the top choice but given his unlucky injury history, I would not bet on that.
Baylor Shunk/Braeden Davis
Same goes here at 133. The hole Roman Bravo-Young leaves in the lineup is immense and it’s going to be hard to even fill in a competitive guy let alone an all-time Penn State great.
Beau has cemented himself at 141 and he flourished this year. I don’t see any changes here.
Shayne Van Ness
Or here at 149. Shayne Van Ness had some bumps in the road his first season but he’s locked and loaded at 149 for the foreseeable future.
But here is where we may have our first possible change. And no, I’m not projecting Levi Haines won’t be in the Nittany Lion starting rotation next year, that would be insane.
Rather I believe from what Cael has said in the past and what my eyes tell me, Haines has some room to grow and 165 might be his eventual landing spot. Maybe even 174.
But at the moment, I’m going to leave Levi at 157. Because if he does bump up to 165 then that means …
I have no idea what the coaching staff is going to do with Alex Facundo. It also means I have no idea what they will do at 157 if Haines jumps to 165. Have they seen enough from Terrell Barraclough or Matt Lee to make this move?
I don’t know.
Which is exactly why I’m going to keep Facundo at 165 for next year. He proved he can be a highly competitive guy and while he didn’t finish the season on the highest note, the future still looks great for him.
I mean, really?
Now there have been some rumors swirling around that Brooks may make a jump to 197 next year as 184 has been difficult to maintain at times. Obviously I’m not the one who has to eat kale and lean chicken and exercise constantly each day, but I believe this could be hard for Brooks.
Not that it would be hard for him to gain weight, rather I think the 197 class may be problematic for him. Much in the same way it was for Max Dean.
Once you get into the 197 group, the body types tend to change dramatically. Guys like Tanner Sloan, Rocky Elam, and Michael Beard have frames over 6′ tall. Rider’s Ethan Laird was 6’2″ and Penn State fans saw what he did to Dean.
So here’s my point, Aaron Brooks is shorter than Max Dean. Which means he has to be that much better technically than the majority of the guys he faces due to a potential reach disadvantage. I’m not saying Brooks can’t do it, because I feel like if he really put his mind to it he could actually fly. All I’m saying is that 184 is a much better home for him.
Additionally, Lucas Cochran was a lightly recruited prospect who was overshadowed by Alex Facundo, Shayne Van Ness, and Gary Steen in the 2021 class. But make no mistake about it, Cochran is a winner and he could be a surprise for the rest of the country at 197.
Lucas was 169-17 in high school and of his 17 career losses in high school, 16 of them came in his freshman season. He had one loss his sophomore year and went undefeated both his junior and senior seasons which resulted in him being a three time Utah State Champion.
I wouldn’t sleep on him for next year.
Come on, man! Really?