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Penn State wrestling dominates InterMat 2024 Big Ten awards

Penn State wrestling is getting recognition for dominating the Big Ten on the mat in 2024.



Penn State wrestling, Cael Sanderson, Aaron Brooks, Mitchell Mesenbrink
Mar 23, 2024; Kansas City, MO, USA; Head Coach Cael Sanderson hugs 197 pound Penn State Nittany Lions Aaron Brooks after he won his 4th NCAA Wrestling title over North Carolina State Wolfpacks Trent Hidlay. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

In 2024, Penn State wrestling once again proved that the road to the top runs through Happy Valley. The Nittany Lions brought home a trifecta of hardware, capturing the Big Ten Dual Season Title, the Big Ten Championships crown, and a third consecutive National Championship. This week, the Blue and White were recognized for their dominating performance in conference action, with Cael Sanderson, Aaron Brooks, and Mitchell Mesenbrink sweeping the end-of-year Big Ten awards from InterMat.

Penn State wrestling sweeps InterMat Big Ten end-of-year awards

Collectively, Penn State wrestling produced perhaps the most dominant team the sport has ever seen this year. The Nittany Lions cut through their dual season opponents like a hot knife through butter, outscoring their competition 428-69 and winning matches by an average of 30 points.

Penn State kept the momentum going in the Big Ten Championships, scoring a school record 170.5 points en route to a second straight title. Carter Starocci, who was forced to injury default out of the tournament, was the only Nittany Lion who did not place third or above in their respective weight class. Penn State touted five individual champions and sent seven wrestlers to the finals.

If that wasn’t enough, Cael Sanderson and the Nittany Lions rewrote the NCAA record books at Nationals, scoring the most points (172.5) and securing the largest margin of victory (100) while clinching the program’s 12th title. Penn State also became the second program to claim two four-time individual National Champions, with Carter Starocci and Aaron Brooks doing so minutes apart.

Not surprisingly, Penn State wrestling was well represented on the end-year Big Ten awards released by InterMat this week. In fact, the Nittany Lions were the only school represented, sweeping the conference superlatives. “No team shined brighter than Penn State which is why they swept our Big Ten awards,” wrote Ryan Holmes of InterMat.

Aaron Brooks wins Big Ten Wrestler of the Year

Aaron Brooks was the most dominant wrestler in the sport this season, going 22-0 with a 91% bonus percentage. The Hagerstown, Maryland native dismantled Trent Hidlay of NC State to become the seventh four-time National Champion in NCAA history. Brooks was awarded the Most Outstanding Wrestler at the NCAA Championships, and this week won the Dan Hodge Trophy for the sport’s top wrestler.

In addition to joining the four-timers club, Aaron Brooks finishes his Penn State wrestling career with an 89-3 record, four Big Ten titles, and a conference tournament runner-up finish. The honorable mention for the award was fellow Nittany Lion four-timer Carter Starocci.

Mitchell Mesenbrink named Freshman of the Year

While it may have ended on a sour note, falling by one point to Iowa State’s David Carr in the final of the NCAA Championships, 2024 was a stellar opening act for Mitchell Mesenbrink in Happy Valley. The Cal Baptist transfer went 26-1 with a 70% bonus rate on the season. A firecracker of energy, Mesenbrink used a wild come-from-behind upset over Wisconsin’s Dean Hamiti to help propel him to the 165-pound Big Ten title as a redshirt freshman.

Penn State wrestling will look to reload next season with many of its veterans set to move on. But given his entrance to the college wrestling scene, Mitchell Mesenbrink should be a mainstay of the Nittany Lions’ lineup for years to come.

Cael Sanderson keeps his crown as Coach of Year

At this point, what else is there to say about Cael Sanderson? The Nittany Lions head coach has built a dynasty in Happy Valley, with no signs of slowing down.

But even for someone who is used to setting milestones, 2024 was a historic year for Cael Sanderson. Sanderson became the first Penn State wrestling coach to win 200 duals and helped the program eclipse the 1,000-win mark over a three-day stretch in February.

Last month’s record-breaking National Championship was Sanderson’s 11th, putting him in a tie with E.C. Gallagher for the second most in NCAA wrestling history. But in typical Cael Sanderson fashion, moments after hoisting the trophy, he was already thinking about the next one.

“Just going to be ready for next year. That’s what we do,” Sanderson said following the NCAA Championships. “We always think ahead, preparing for the future. We’ll be back in the room on Monday. We love what we do; we love to train. We love the sport of wrestling.”

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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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