Big Ten

Off-Season Transfers Will Fuel This Season's NCAA Team Race

Off-Season Transfers Will Fuel This Season's NCAA Team Race

Here are the top transfers to keep an eye on as the 2023-24 college wrestling season begins.

Oct 24, 2023 by Kyle Klingman
Off-Season Transfers Will Fuel This Season's NCAA Team Race

Several programs will benefit from the transfer portal this season. Most of the top teams look different thanks to key acquisitions. Below is a look at the top wrestlers who transferred during the off-season. 

Penn State

125: Kurt McHenry (Michigan)
133: Aaron Nagao (Minnesota)
157/165: Mitchell Mesenbrink (Cal Baptist)
184: Bernie Truax (Cal Poly)

The Nittany Lions bolstered their powerful lineup with three wrestlers who will be in title contention. Nagao placed fifth at the 2023 NCAA Championships and will replace two-time NCAA champion and three-time finalist Roman Bravo-Young. 

Mesenbrink only wrestled two matches for Cal Baptist but won a U20 World title and will be a factor if he’s in the line-up, while Bernie Truax is a three-time fourth-place finisher at nationals at three different weights. 

McHenry, a two-time Cadet World champion, never saw the starting lineup at the end of the year for Michigan but be a factor at 125 for Penn State. He took undefeated Richie Figueroa of Arizona State to overtime and will compete with Robbie Howard for the spot. 


125: Joey Cruz (Oklahoma)
149: Victor Voinovich (Oklahoma State)
157: Jared Franek (North Dakota State)
165: Michael Caliendo (North Dakota State)

Franek and Caliendo were All-Americans last season for North Dakota State and will factor heavily into Iowa’s success. Franek and Caliendo will take on a pair of returning Hawkeye national qualifiers Cobe Siebrecht (157) and Patrick Kennedy (165) for their respective spots. 

Voinovich replaces Max Murin who graduated following a sixth-place finish at nationals and three appearances in the Round of 12. Cruz could see time at 125 depending on when Drake Ayala is ready to go. 


125: Michael DeAugustino (Northwestern)
133: Chris Cannon (Northwestern)
174: Shane Griffith (Stanford)
285: Lucas Davison (Northwestern)

A trio of Northwestern All-Americans and an NCAA champion from Stanford puts the Wolverines squarely in the trophy hunt. DeAugustino replaces Jack Medley, Chris Cannon takes over for Dylan Ragusin who is likely redshirting, and Davison replaces NCAA champion Mason Parris.

Griffith won his title in 2021 at 165 before placing second in 2022 and fifth in 2023. He is moving up to 174 and will replace Max Maylor who transferred to Wisconsin. 


125: Caleb Smith (Appalachian State)
285: Owen Pence (North Dakota State)

Smith is seeking his first All-American honor while Pence is a three-time national qualifier at 197 who is moving up to heavyweight. 

Arizona State

165: Chance McLane (Oklahoma State)

McLane never saw the starting line-up at Oklahoma State but is the expected starter for the Sun Devils. 

Oklahoma State

125: Troy Spratley (Minnesota)
141: Sammy Alvarez (Rutgers)
141: Tagen Jamison (Minnesota)
165: Izzak Olejnik (Northern Illinois)

The Cowboys needed to fill several spots following an 18th-place finish at the 2023 NCAA Championships. Olejnik is the only All-American in the group, but Spratley and Alvarez are expected to start. 

Iowa State

133: Garrett Grice (Virginia)
149: Anthony Echemendia (Ohio State)
184: Will Feldkamp (Clarion)

Feldkamp was an All-American for Clarion while Grice is expected to start following a 13-2 redshirt season. Echemendia is vying for the 149-pound spot, although his transfer timeline is uncertain. 


157: Luke Melcher (Oklahoma State)
174: Max Maylor (Michigan)
184: Shane Liegel (Loras)

It’s rare when a Division III wrestler moves up to Division I, but Leigel was a three-time All-American for Loras and a 2021 national champion. Melcher and Maylor are the expected starters at their respective weights. 


125: Antonio Lorenzo (Cal Poly)
133: Jace Koelzer (Northern Colorado)
184: Guiseppe Hoose (Buffalo)
184: DeAnthony Parker (North Dakota State)
197: Stephen Buchanan (Wyoming)
285: Juan Mora (North Dakota State)

New Sooner coach Roger Kish got a nice recruiting haul, including a few wrestlers from North Dakota State. Lorenzo, Koelzer, and Hoose are expected to start. Buchanan transferred two years ago but redshirted last season and will be a title threat this season following national finishes of eighth and third in 2021 and 2022, respectively. 


149: Marcos Polanco (Minnesota)
184: James Rowley (Wisconsin)

Polanco qualified for nationals in 2021 and Rowley is a 2021 Cadet World silver medalist who compiled an 8-8 record as a freshman. 

Oregon State

174: Travis Wittlake (Oklahoma State)
197: Brett Mower (Iowa Western)
285: Boone McDermott (Rutgers)

Wittlake returns to his home state after competing at 184 for the Cowboys last season. He’ll move down to 174 after finishing fourth at the 2021 NCAA Championships at 165. Mower will battle for the starting 197-pound spot while McDermott is expected to start at heavyweight. 

Lock Haven

133: Wyatt Henson (Oklahoma)

Henson is attending his third school in three seasons following stints at Iowa and Oklahoma. 


149: Finn Solomon (NC State)

Solomon compiled a 16-3 record for the Wolfpack as a true freshman and is expected to start for the Panthers. 


141: Mitch Moore (Oklahoma)
149: Jacob Butler (Oklahoma)
285: Yaraslau Slavikouski (Harvard)

Moore and Butler were national qualifiers for the Sooners and Slavikouski reached the Round of 12 for Harvard last season. 


157: Brayton Lee (Minnesota)

Lee finished sixth at the 2021 NCAA Championships but has battled injuries for the past two seasons. He returns to his home state for his senior campaign.