TULSA, Okla. – The Penn State Nittany wrestling team, under the direction of veteran head coach Cael Sanderson added two more individual national champions to its 2023 NCAA Wrestling Championship team title, clinched early in this morning’s first session. Cathedral Prep grad Carter Starocci and Aaron Brooks both brought home individual gold to cap off the three-day event in Tulsa’s BOK Center.
Starocci won the 174-pound title, followed immediately by Brooks claiming the 184-pound crown. Nittany Lion true freshman Levi Haines dropped the title bout at 157, Greg Kerkvliet lost in the finals at 285 and Roman Bravo-Young dropped his finals match at 133. All three leave Tulsa as 2023 National Runners-Up.
Starocci, the No. 1 seed at 174, battled No. 2 Mikey Labriola of Nebraska in his third-straight title bout. Starocci and Labriola worked on the Lion logo for the opening minute before Starocci forced action to the mat. But Labriola worked the scramble out of bounds and the bout continued scoreless. Starocci worked his way in on a fast high single and took a 2-0 lead with 1:15 on the clock. Starocci then controlled the action on top until the final seconds and then rolled the Husker to his back, getting the first-period pin at the 2:46 mark to earn yet another NCAA title.
Starocci is now a three-time All-American, two-time Big Ten Champion and became Penn State’s fifth three-time NCAA Champion. He went 5-0 at this year’s tournament and ends his season with a 24-0 record. Starocci will head into next season with a 61-2 career record.
The title is Penn State’s 11th overall and the tenth since Sanderson’s arrival in Happy Valley prior to the 2009-10 season. The Nittany Lions have won ten of the last 12 contested NCAA Championship tournaments (2020 was canceled by the NCAA). Since 2011, Penn State has 34-16 record in the national finals (a .680-win percentage).
GENERAL MCLANE GRAD LAIRD EARNS ALL-AMERICAN HONORS FOR RIDER
TULSA, OK- Ethan Laird finished 6th at NCAA Wrestling Championships, becoming Rider’s 19th All-American in program history, as he wrapped up Day 3 competition at the NCAA Wrestling Championships.
Laird is now the eighth Rider All-American in the last nine seasons, including six NCAA All-Americans and two NWCA All-Americans. Laird ends his Rider career with 100 career wins which he picked up yesterday in the win over Zac Braunagel of Illinois would also mark Laird’s 100th career win with the Broncs.
After winning three-straight matches to reach the National Semifinals, Laird fell in the semifinals to top-seeded Nino Bonaccorsi of Pittsburgh by a 10-4 decision yesterday to send him to the consolation semifinals. Laird became Rider’s first NCAA All-American since Jesse Dellavecchia was the national runner-up in 2021.
The honor is Laird’s second, as he was named an NWCA All-America Honorable Mention selection as the No. 16 seed entering NCAA’s when the tournament was canceled due to COVID-19, but his first NCAA All-America honor, signifying a top eight finish at the national tournament.
FELDKAMP EARNS ALL-AMERICAN HONORS FOR CLARION
TULSA, Okla. – Will Feldkamp concluded his week at the NCAA Championships as well as his season with one more thrilling win by fall, defeating North Carolina’s Gavin Kane to secure a seventh-place finish in the 184-pound bracket.
With the win, Feldkamp wrapped up a remarkable season that saw him become Clarion’s first NCAA place winner in 10 years. His seventh-place finish makes him the Golden Eagles’ highest finisher since Bekzod Abdurakhmonov took third place at 165 pounds in 2013; James Fleming also placed that year, taking fifth at 157 pounds.
Feldkamp earned a reputation as one of the most capable pinners in the sport this season, so it seemed fitting that the final match of the season would come down to one more fall. Midway through the first period Kane put on a front headlock and appeared to send Feldkamp to his back, but Feldkamp rolled through and turned the tables on Kane, immediately tilting him for a takedown and a four-point near fall. Kane got to his stomach and Feldkamp went to work breaking him down, eventually finding the hold that would flatten Kane for the pin with 22 seconds left in the period.
The fall was Feldkamp’s 14th pin of the season, ranking him second in the nation across all weight classes behind only Air Force’s Wyatt Hendrickson. As such, Feldkamp led all 184-pounders in the country in wins by fall. He finishes his season with a 29-6 overall record; impressively, Feldkamp lost just two matches after December 16, one to national finalist Aaron Brooks and the other to fifth-ranked Marcus Coleman in the consolation quarterfinals.