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Penn State Wrestling: Big Ten Championships Preview

The Nittany Lions look to reclaim the Big Ten Championships title for the first time since 2019.



Penn State Wrestling
Penn State head coach Cael Sanderson calls out instructions during a NCAA Big Ten Conference wrestling dual, Friday, Jan. 31, 2020, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa. © Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen, Iowa City Press-Citizen via Imagn Content Services, LLC 200131 Penn St Iowa Wr 036 Jpg

Penn State wrestling is coming off another dominant regular season. The Nittany Lions finished 16-0, their seventh undefeated regular season in eight years. The Lions also wrapped up their third consecutive season with an undefeated conference dual meet record, winning the school’s ninth Big Ten Regular Season title in the process.

The next challenge for Penn State? The Big Ten Wrestling Championships. Beyond the prize itself, the Nittany Lions hope to use the conference championships as a launch board toward their ultimate goal – the NCAA Wrestling Championships.

When, Where, and How to Watch the Big Ten Wrestling Championships

The Big Ten Wrestling Championships will occur this weekend, March 4 and March 5, in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The first session begins Saturday morning at 10 AM and will air on the Big Ten Network. The semifinals will also air on BTN later in the day at 7 PM. The last session, including the finals, will take place on BTN Sunday afternoon at 4:30 PM.

Consolation matches will be streamed on BTN+ on Saturday and Sunday at 5:30 PM and 1 PM, respectively.

How is Penn State Wrestling Approaching the Big Ten Championships?

Penn State wrestling doesn’t have to prove its dominance to anyone. The Nittany Lions’ closest margin of victory in duals this season was nine points. All other matches were decided by double digits.

Penn State cruised through its conference schedule, with decisive wins over ranked opponents such as (reflects ranking at the time) No. 3 MichiganNo. 20 Michigan StateNo. 2 Iowa, and No. 5 Ohio State, to name a few.

However, championship season represents a different test for the Nittany Lion wrestlers. And although their ultimate goal is still ahead of them, it doesn’t change the importance of the task at hand.

“We want to compete well,” head coach Cael Sanderson told reporters this week. “Our eyes are always on the nationals. That’s the biggest goal. But, the conference is part of the nationals because you have to qualify to get there, and it determines your placing and your seed there. That’s just the way I’ve always looked at it because that’s what my coach used to say is, that this is like the first two rounds of the nationals. So, your question is, ‘do we want to win the Big Ten Conference?’ Heck yeah, let’s go.”

The Nittany Lions are looking to return to the winner’s circle as a team for the first time since 2019. Iowa claimed the Big Ten title in 2020 and 2021, while Michigan won it all last year.

Pre-Seed Dominance 

On Monday, the Big Ten released the preliminary seeds for this weekend. Voted on by the conference’s coaches, these seeds rank all 14 starters in each of the 10 weight classes.

The Nittany Lions led the way with four No. 1 seeds, more than any other team. Roman Bravo-Young (133), Carter Starocci (174), Aaron Brooks (184), and Max Dean (197) will all be the top wrestlers in their respective weight classes.

Penn State also will have three No. 2 seeds (Beau Bartlett, 141; Levi Haines, 157; Greg Kerkvliet, 285), a No. 4 seed (Alex Facundo, 165), and a No. 5 seed (Shayne Van Ness, 149). The only Nittany Lion not seeded in the top ten of his weight class was Gary Steen, who comes in as the No. 11 seed at 125.

Overall, the seeds line up for several Nittany Lions to make deep runs into the weekend. And if that happens, Penn State will likely find itself atop the Big Ten again.

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Matt is a co-owner and Editor in Chief of Basic Blues Nation. Launched in 2022, Basic Blues Nation is one of the fastest-growing websites covering all Penn State athletics, with over 3.5 million readers in 2023. Matt is also a credentialed member of the Penn State football beat, and is a member of the Football Writers Association of America.


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