2024 NCAA Championships Watch Party

Carter Starocci Feels 100% The Day Before 2024 NCAA Wrestling Championships

Carter Starocci Feels 100% The Day Before 2024 NCAA Wrestling Championships

Three-time NCAA champion Carter Starocci of Penn State says he feels 100% the day before the 2024 NCAA Wrestling Championships begin.

Mar 20, 2024 by David Bray
2024 NCAAs Athlete Press Conference

"How healthy is Carter Starocci?" That's been the number one question in the minds of many wrestling fans ahead of the 2024 NCAA Wrestling Championships. Starocci answered that question Wednesday at the start of the NCAA's press conference. The Penn State star says he's 100% healthy.

Before the Big Ten Championships, Starocci was 12-0 with 6 techs, 3 falls, and a major decision, but he suffered an injury en route to a tech fall in his final regular season match that required him to be helped off the mat. Earlier this month, Starocci injury defaulted out of Big Tens, so his report of good health is welcome news to Nittany Lion fans.

While Starocci feels 100%, he hasn't competed in a match since February 25, so all eyes will still be on the three-time champ throughout this tournament. To win his fourth NCAA title, he'll have to take a more difficult path through the bracket than he's had to take in the past as a result of receiving the #9 seed.

Starocci's two injury default losses at Big Tens counted against his record due to an off-season rule change, so instead of being the consensus #1 seed with a straight-forward path, he could have to face two returning NCAA champs before the finals. 2019 champ Mekhi Lewis, Starocci's 2022 NCAA finals opponent, is seeded to reach the same quarterfinal as Starocci, and 2021 champ Shane Griffith is seeded to await in the semifinals.

"It's more fun this way," Starocci said about his seed. He also joked that he'd love to be able to wrestle everyone in the bracket. While that won't be possible, this more challenging route to a fourth NCAA title could even further cement Starocci's legacy as one of the top wrestlers in NCAA history. 

Despite having two other NCAA champs on his of the bracket, Starocci says his preparation for his fourth title has been the same as his preparation for the previous three titles and that while, "the next title is always the most fun," he's trying to keep this tournament in perspective.

Penn State has the opportunity to see two of it's current wrestlers win their fourth NCAA titles as both Starocci and 197-pounder Aaron Brooks have won titles in each of the last three seasons. Action at the NCAA Championships begins Thursday, March 21 in Kansas City.

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