Penn State's top-ranked wrestling team enters the heart of its dual-meet season, wrestling three Big Ten road matches in eight days. Two are against its top national competitors.
The Lions visit No. 3 Michigan on Friday night, part of a weekend trip that includes a Sunday dual at Michigan State. Penn State returns to the road Jan. 28 at Iowa for the premier dual meet of the college season.
First up: a compelling match against Michigan, in which 19 of the 20 wrestlers could be ranked. Here's a look (all rankings are via InterMat).
No. 1 Penn State (11-0, 3-0) vs. No. 3 Michigan (5-0, 1-0)
- When: 6 p.m. EST Friday
- Where: Ann Arbor, Mich
- TV: Big Ten Network
- Radio: Penn State Sports Network
About the Lions: With nine ranked wrestlers, including four at No. 1, Penn State certainly has one of the nation's best top-to-bottom lineups. But it has missed wrestlers here and there, notably returning NCAA champ Nick Lee, who didn't compete in the last two matches. Coach Cael Sanderson keeps his lineup moves close, so 141 pounds (Lee's weight) is one to watch. So is 157, where the returning Brady Berge ultimately could land. For now, Berge (1-0) is ranked 16th at 165 pounds. Penn State has assembled a finishing arsenal from 174-285, where Carter Starocci, Aaron Brooks, Max Dean and Greg Kerkvliet are a combined 40-0.
About the Wolverines: Nick Suriano, formerly of Penn State and Rutgers, is Michigan's lone No. 1 wrestler (125 pounds) and the new NCAA frontrunner since Iowa's Spencer Lee ended his season. Michigan has lost 10 consecutive duals to Penn State, including a tight 18-13 decision in 2021. To end the streak, the Wolverines will need sparks, notably from Stevan Micic (No. 4 at 141), Myles Amine (No. 2 at 184) and heavyweight Mason Parris (No. 2).
Bouts to Watch
125: No. 7 Drew Hildebrandt (PSU) vs. No. 1 Nick Suriano
An absolute gem featuring two of the nation's more intriguing transfer wrestlers. Hildebrandt was a two-time All-American at Central Michigan, and Suriano won an NCAA title at 133 pounds for Rutgers. It's also fair to wonder how close Suriano was to transferring back to Penn State for this season.
184: No. 1 Aaron Brooks (PSU) vs. No. 2 Myles Amine
Very likely an NCAA finals preview between the nation's top two 184-pounders. Brooks (9-0) is the defending NCAA champ who has won eight bouts by major decision or better. Amine won the 86 kg Olympic bronze medal in 2021 and returned to Michigan for a graduate season after placing third at 197 last season.
285: No. 4 Greg Kerkvliet (PSU) vs. No. 2 Mason Parris
Another matchup of unbeatens, featuring the NCAA runner-up in Parris, who defeated Kerkvliet 11-3 in the Big Ten quarterfinals last season. Kerkvliet is looking for that hallmark victory to launch him into the Big Ten's next level. This could be it.