2024 Penn State vs Iowa Wrestling

Top 10 Showdown: #6 Michael Caliendo vs #7 Mitchell Mesenbrink

Top 10 Showdown: #6 Michael Caliendo vs #7 Mitchell Mesenbrink

Previewing the massive college wrestling matchup we could see Friday at 165 between Penn State's #7 Mitchell Mesenbirnk vs Iowa's #6 Michael Caliendo.

Feb 8, 2024 by Andrew Spey
Top 10 Showdown: #6 Michael Caliendo vs #7 Mitchell Mesenbrink

A major Big Ten rivalry is renewed this Friday at 9:00 PM ET, as the top-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions take on the Iowa Hawkeyes in historic Carver-Hawkeye Arena. 

One of the many excellent matches to expect will be at 165-pounds, as redshirt freshman #7 Mitchell Mesenbrink of Penn State is slated to wrestle one of the toughest opponents of his young career in redshirt sophomore #6 Michael Caliendo of Iowa. 

How To Watch

This dual will be broadcast on the BTN cable channel. You'll need to have a cable subscription that includes that channel to watch. Or you have to know someone who subscribes to BTN and watch with them. 

If you don't have cable but you do have a fast internet connection, you can subscribe to YouTubeTV, which includes BTN, for one month for about $73. I do not get any referral money if you do this, it's just what I do so I know it works!

You can also attend the dual in person. It's sold out but it looks like you can grab tickets off StubHub for as low as $55. 

Did They Wrestle Before?

Not as far as I can tell! 

Mesenrbrink only wrestled one D1 opponent last season while redshirting and it wasn't Caliendo. They were both in the 2022 U20 US Open but in different weight classes, so this will be they're first meeting on the mat in any style. 

But if you know of a time these two wrestled each other before do let me know!

Significant Results for Barlet and Woods

Michael Caliendo's NCAA Resume (year, school, weight, NCAA finish, NCAA seed, record)

  • 2022 North Dakota State, 165, Redshirt (4-2)
  • 2023 North Dakota State, 165, 7th, #7 seed (29-5)
  • 2024 Iowa, 165 (15-1)

Mitchell Mesenbrink's NCAA Resume

  • 2023 Cal Baptist, 165, Redshirt (1-0)
  • 2024 Penn State 165 (15-0)

Michael Caliendo's Recruiting Ranking

Mitchell Mesenbrink's Recruiting Ranking

Michael Caliendo's Freestyle Resume (year, weight, event, finish)

  • 2022, 74kg, U20 US Open 3rd

Mitchell Mesenbrink's Freestyle Resume

  • 2023, 74kg, U20 Worlds 1st
  • 2023, 74kg, U20 Pan-Ams 1st
  • 2023, 74kg, U20 US Open 1st
  • 2023, 74kg, Dan Kolov 3rd
  • 2022, 70kg, U20 Worlds 2nd
  • 2022, 70kg, U20 Pan-Ams 1st
  • 2022, 70kg, U20 US Open 1st

Take less than 3 minutes of your day and watch Mesenbrink win gold at last year's U20 World Championships: 


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What This Matchup Means Going Forward

The result of this match will have huge ramifications on both the rankings and the seeds at the Big Ten Championships. 

Both wrestlers are undefeated in the Big Ten, so the winner here will have pole position for the top seed in the conference -- although Dean Hamiti of Wisconsin will naturally have his say in this as well. 

The result will additionally have massive implications for seeds at nationals. #1 and #2 at this weight class are two national champs, Missouri's Keegan O'Toole and Iowa State's David Carr. They are both in the same conference. They are also slated to wrestle in a dual at the end of the year. 

If Carr beats O'Toole in the dual and then O'Toole wins the Big 12 conference championship, the winner of the Big Ten title at 165 may also find himself earning the #1 seed at NCAAs. 

A lot has to happen first between now and then but it does add stakes to the outcome of this match. 

Who Will Caliendo and Mesenrbink Wrestle Next?

Both wrestlers can expect to see tough competition before the postseason begins. 

Iowa has duals with fellow Big Ten member Wisconsin and traditional rival Oklahoma State to close out the season. That means Caliendo could face #5 Dean Hamiti of Wisconsin and #3 Izzak Olejnik of Oklahoma State after wrestling #7 Mitchell Mesenbrink. 

Caliendo has yet to face off against Hamiti but has wrestled Olejnik before when he bested him in the seventh-place bout at the 2023 NCAA Championships, back when Caliendo was wrestling for North Dakota State and Olejnik was on the Northern Illinois team. 

Penn State will see Rutgers, Nebraska and then Edinboro to close out the regular season. The Huskers have redshirt freshman #15 Antrell Taylor while Rutgers and Edinboro will send out an unranked wrestler against Mitchell. Taylor is a savvy opponent and not to be underestimated, however, Mesenbrink will be a favorite against him and an even larger favorite against Rutgers and Edinboro. 

Who Will Win?

I haven't found Vegas odds for this individual matchup, but JD Rader on FRL made Mesenrbink a 2.5 point favorite. 

Mesenrbink hasn't lost yet in his collegiate career. He also hasn't lost in his freestyle career since a senior-level tournament in Bulgaria eleven months ago. 

Caliendo hasn't lost since last November, when he was defeated by NCAA champion David Carr in the Cy-Hawk dual. That was Caliendo's only loss on the season. 

Though they both have the majority of their collegiate careers in front of them, they do have three common opponents, against whom they are both 3-0. Those wins were over #10 Caleb Fish, #20 Brevin Cassella, and #25 (at 174) Matthew Olguin. 

Caliendo defeated all three at last year's NCAA tournament, and all by regular decision. Mesenrbink's victories came this season and were all by bonus. He teched both Cassella and Olguin and majored Fish just a few weeks ago.

Caliendo is a stud who I very much expect to reach the podium for a second straight season this March, however, given these results and knowing Mesenbrink's absolutely relentless attacking style in neutral, I'd have to lean towards Mitchell winning by a takedown and covering the aforementioned point spread. 

Caliendo can absolutely win, however, especially if he disrupts Mesenbrink on his feet and puts together an effective ride on top, seeing as Mesenrbink has spent very little time in his folkstyle career wrestling on bottom. 

We'll all get to find out how it plays out this Friday!

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