2024 Penn State vs Iowa Wrestling

Will Gabe Arnold See Starocci Or Truax At Penn State vs Iowa Wrestling?

Will Gabe Arnold See Starocci Or Truax At Penn State vs Iowa Wrestling?

A breakdown of how Iowa could use Gabe Arnold in their dual against Penn State on Friday, February 9, 2024.

Feb 6, 2024 by Jon Kozak

Defending national champions #1 Penn State will travel to Iowa City to take on #3 Iowa this Friday in the biggest dual of the weekend. One of the top storylines leading into this dual is whether or not the Hawkeyes will send out true freshman Gabe Arnold. If Arnold does wrestle Friday night, will we see him at 174 against #1 Carter Starocci or at 184 against #8 Bernie Truax? In the article below, we’ll dive deep into what we think Iowa could (and should) do with Arnold on Friday. 

Who Is Gabe Arnold?

If you’re an avid wrestling fan, you’re probably familiar with Gabe Arnold. He was the #5 overall recruit out of the class of 2023, an Iowa state champion, and a National Prep champion in high school. 

As a true freshman for Iowa this year, Arnold is currently 11-0 with notable wins over All-Americans Travis Wittlake and #6 Will Feldkamp and a ranked win over #9 Lennox Wolak. Arnold’s win over Feldkamp was at 184 pounds and ultimately helped Iowa win their dual over Iowa State. 

According to NCAA rules, true freshmen are allowed to wrestle in 5 attached competitions and Arnold has only competed in 3 so far this year. It seems Coach Brands and company have specifically saved Arnold’s eligibility to wrestle him against Penn State on Friday. If that’s the case, the question still remains - will we see him at 174 pounds or 184 pounds?

Gabe Arnold Wants To Wrestle Carter Starocci

What’s the case for Gabe Arnold to wrestle 174 pounds? Simply put - he wants the match. Last year after Carter Starocci defeated Nelson Brands 2-1 in Penn State’s dual win over Iowa, Arnold tweeted out, “overrated…i said what i said #seeyousoon”

When asked about his tweet, Arnold responded by saying, 

“I’m not taking anything away from Carter Starocci, Carter Starocci is one of the best at 174 pounds. That’s who I have in my mirror every day, that’s who I see, that’s who I’m going to beat next year…My goal is to be a 2024 NCAA national champ at 174 pounds. So by any means necessary, that is what I will do. So hate me or love me, I’m Gabe Arnold.”

Watch the full interview where Arnold talks about his comments on Starocci at 4:35 in the video below:


It’s clear Arnold wants this match and as a true freshman against a 3-time NCAA champion, Arnold will be the underdog. However, it’s not crazy to think that the potential bout between Starocci and Arnold could be competitive. Starocci is coming off his most competitive match of the season - a 4-2 win over Ohio State’s true freshman, Rocco Welsh. Arnold wrestled Welsh 3 times in his high school career and holds a 2-1 record over Welsh. Again, Starocci is the favorite, but Arnold is absolutely capable of wrestling Starocci tough.

Gabe Arnold’s win over Rocco Welsh at 2021 Who’s Number 1:


Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Sign Up

Already a subscriber? Log In

Why Arnold Should Wrestle 184 Pounds Against Penn State

Despite Arnold wanting the match and having the ability to compete with Starocci, the smart move for Iowa is for Gabe Arnold to wrestle 184 pounds against Bernie Truax. Patrick Kennedy is the current starter at 174 pounds and has risen up to #5 in the rankings at the weight with ranked wins over Edmond Ruth and Bubba Wilson. Kennedy is also coming up from 165 pounds so the likelihood of him moving up to 184 pounds and being effective against Truax is slim. So while Kennedy is a big underdog against Starocci, he’ll definitely compete better at 174 pounds. 

Up at 184, Iowa has Aiden Riggins who is currently unranked with a 10-10 record on the year. Riggins has given up bonus points to several wrestlers this year, including Lenny Pinto, Nick Fine, Max Hale, and James Burks (D2). Three-time All-American Truax is currently 8-2 on the year with 5 wins coming by bonus - 2 pins, 1 tech, and 2 majors. If Truax and Riggins wrestle, Truax will likely win and has a great chance of recording another bonus point victory. 

Gabe Arnold has already proven with his win over Will Feldkamp that he can wrestle well up at 184 pounds against high-quality competition. Beyond that, Truax has dropped matches this year to Trey Munoz and Ryder Rogotzke. On paper, Arnold might be the favorite against Truax, or at the very least he has a much better chance of beating Truax than Starocci. 

The Hawkeyes will be stronger with Arnold at 184 and will have a much better chance of gaining team points if Arnold wrestlers up in weight rather than at 174 pounds. Without Arnold, Iowa will have toss-up matches at 125, 141, 157, and 165. Add Arnold in at 184 pounds and Iowa can conceivably win 5 matches in the dual. Regardless of what happens, the dual will be incredible and worth watching from start to finish.