The Penn State wrestling team turned in another dominant performance at the NCAA championships in March, winning the program’s 10th team national title and its ninth since 2011. Five Nittany Lion wrestlers—Roman Bravo-Young, Nick Lee, Carter Starocci, Aaron Brooks, and Max Dean (below, from left) claimed individual titles as Penn State went 5-0 in the finals.
Penn State amassed 131.5 team points, finishing 36.5 ahead of second-place Michigan. Three of the program’s last four national titles have been won by at least that margin.
The Nittany Lions crowned half of the tournament’s 10 individual champions for the second time, joining the 2016 championship squad, which also went 5-0 in the finals. Penn State finished the 2022 season with six All-Americans (the five champs plus 285-pounder Greg Kerkvliet), and Lee became the first five-time All-American in program history. Meanwhile, Cael Sanderson was named NCAA Championship Tournament Coach of the Year by the National Wrestling Coaches Association, the third time he has received that honor.
Bravo-Young, the tournament’s top seed at 133 pounds, took down second-seeded Daton Fix of Oklahoma State 3-2 for his 35th straight win. That was followed by Lee’s 10-3 victory over North Carolina’s Kizhan Clarke at 141. Starocci, the top seed at 174, beat second-seed Mekhi Lewis of Virginia Tech in sudden victory, and Brooks, the second seed at 184, defeated top seed Myles Amine of Michigan 5-3 to finish his season with a 21-1 record. Dean, the top seed at 197 pounds, made it 5-for-5 with his 3-2 win over sixth-seeded Jacob Warner of Iowa. It was the first national title for Dean, a transfer from Cornell, and the second for each of the other four Penn State champions.
Kerkvliet’s win over Michigan’s Mason Parris in the consolation semifinals helped the Lions clinch the team victory before the final matches even began. He injury-defaulted the third-place match to finish fourth.
Since 2011, Penn State is 45-5 in NCAA championship semifinal matches and 32-13 in the finals. Five Nittany Lions have wrestled in the finals in seven of the last 11 seasons, and the team has averaged four finalists and three champions in Sanderson’s 13 seasons at Penn State.