Penn State is favored to defend its 2022 NCAA wrestling championship, according to the latest InterMat rankings, which provide a preseason glimpse into next season's top matchups.
The Lions won five NCAA individual titles for the second consecutive year to claim their ninth team title under head coach Cael Sanderson. Four of those wrestlers return as the preseason No. 1 seeds in their weight classes, according to InterMat Wrestling.
Returning champs Roman Bravo-Young (133 pounds), Carter Starocci (174), Aaron Brooks (184) and Max Dean (197) lead a collection of nine Penn State wrestlers who are ranked. The Lions also have the second-ranked heavyweight in Greg Kerkvliet.
InterMat ranks Penn State as the No. 1 tournament and dual-meet team ahead of Iowa. The Hawkeyes have 10 ranked wrestlers, including five in the top 10. Spencer Lee, who cut short his 2021-22 season because of injury, will return as the No. 1 seed at 125.
Bravo-Young, a two-time NCAA champion, made a huge decision earlier this year in returning to Penn State for another season. His return means Penn State has three wrestlers (including Starocci and Brooks) seeking to become three-time champions.
Penn State dominated the 2022 NCAA championships, clinching the team title hours before the finals even began. Then the Lions went 5-0 in the finals for the second consecutive season.
Individually, the Lions have won 32 NCAA titles under Sanderson, including 10 over the past two years. Penn State has crowned multiple champions at nine tournaments Sanderson has coached. At the past five NCAA tournaments, The Lions have won 42 percent of the individual titles (21 of 50).
Sanderson will seek his 10th NCAA team title as Penn State's head coach. He has a .750 batting average (9 for 12) in winning team titles as Penn State's head coach.
"Culture is obviously everything," Sanderson said aft the NCAA championships. "You always want a stronger culture. But I think these guys care about each other and they compete as individuals, but winning as a team is a lot more fun."
Here's a look at Penn State's ranked wrestlers, according to InterMat.
125: No. 18: Freshman Robbie Howard.
133: No. 1: Senior Roman Bravo-Young
141: No. 17: Sophomore Beau Bartlett
149: No. 29: Freshman Shayne Van Ness
165: No. 24: Freshman Alex Facundo
174: No. 1: Sophomore Carter Starocci
184: No. 1: Junior Aaron Brooks
197: No. 1: Senior Max Dean
HWT: No. 2: Sophomore Greg Kerkvliet
AllPennState is the place for Penn State news, opinion and perspective on the SI.com network. Publisher Mark Wogenrich has covered Penn State for more than 20 years, tracking three coaching staffs, three Big Ten titles and a catalog of great stories. Follow him on Twitter @MarkWogenrich. And consider subscribing (button's on the home page) for more great content across the SI.com network.