2024 NCAA Championships Watch Party

Carter Starocci Downs Two National Champs To Reach NCAA Wrestling Finals

Carter Starocci Downs Two National Champs To Reach NCAA Wrestling Finals

Carter Starocci took two major steps toward college wrestling history Friday, blanking a pair of fellow national champs at the NCAA Championships.

Mar 23, 2024 by Andy Hamilton
Carter Starocci Downs Two National Champs To Reach NCAA Wrestling Finals

Carter Starocci’s braced right knee might not be 100 percent this week. 

But there’s no doubting the strength of his championship fortitude. 

The Penn State senior took two major steps toward the NCAA wrestling history books Friday, blanking a pair of fellow national champs to book a return trip to college wrestling’s biggest stage. 

Starocci followed up a 4-0 win Friday afternoon against top-seeded Mekhi Lewis of Virginia Tech with a 2-0 victory Friday night against Michigan’s Shane Griffith in the 174-pound semifinals at the NCAA Wrestling Championships. 

“Those guys are really good wrestlers,” Starocci said. “But I think when you wrestle me and the lights are on and those ankle bracelets get strapped up and the butt clenches up a little bit and those nerves sink in, it’s a whole different ballgame. It’s something you can’t prepare for. I’m coming forward the whole time. It’s something you can’t game plan. Their coaches in corner are yelling things to do and I’m thinking in my head, ‘You come out here and do it and see how that works for you.’”

Five wrestlers have won this tournament four times: Pat Smith, Cael Sanderson, Kyle Dake, Logan Stieber and Yianni Diakomihalis. Starocci and Penn State teammate Aaron Brooks will try to join that club Saturday night. Starocci faces Ohio State true freshman Rocco Welsh in the 174-pound title bout. 

Starocci’s impenetrable defense has led him to the top of the NCAA podium in each of his previous three trips to the national tournament. This go-round has been different, though. 

He injured his right knee on Feb. 25 in Penn State’s final dual of the season and the Nittany Lions didn’t turn him loose a couple weeks later at the Big Ten Championships. After two uncontested losses at the conference tournament, the three-time national champ dropped to the #9 seed in the bracket. 

Starocci gave up early takedowns in each of his matches Thursday before battling back for victories to set up a much tougher assignment on Friday — two bouts against past national champs. 

Lewis won an NCAA title as a freshman at Virginia Tech in 2019 and nearly won another three years later when Starocci outlasted him in a title bout decided in a tiebreaker. Their quarterfinal bout Friday tipped in Starocci’s favor when he scored a takedown and kept the Virginia Tech senior fastened to the mat for the final minute of the opening period. 

It was more of the same against Griffith in the semis. Starocci rode out the 2021 NCAA champ in the second period and fended him off in the third for a 2-0 win. 

“It’s definitely an adjustment for sure,” Starocci said of his approach to this year’s tournament. “There’s tactics, but at the end of the day it’s who wants it more. You’ve got to be able to protect yourself out there and get to your offense. … When I’m out there, I couldn’t care less about my knee. I chose to wrestle, so if it stays in Kansas City, it stays here. You can always repair that. That’s the mindset going in.”

Get Live NCAA Wrestling Tournament 2024 Reactions At FloWrestling

Join J.D. Rader and Jon Kozak live as two of the top college wrestling analysts in the country give live reactions to all the action at the NCAA Wrestling Championships on our NCAA Championship Watch Party. 

Follow NCAA Wrestling Tournament 2024 Action Live at FloWrestling

Don’t miss the FloWrestling live updates article with the all the breaking news from the meet. 

NCAA Wrestling Tournament 2024 Schedule

The 2024 NCAA Wrestling Championship will be held at T-Mobile Center in Kansas City, Missouri from March 21-23. 

Complete schedule

  • Session 1 - Championship First Round    Thursday    March 21    12pm    ESPNU/ESPN+
  • Session 2 - Championship Second Round + Consolations    Thursday    March 21    7pm    ESPN/ESPN+
  • Session 3 - Championships Quarterfinals + Consolations    Friday    March 22    12pm    ESPNU/ESPN+
  • Session 4 - Championship Semifinals + Blood Round    Friday    March 22    8pm    ESPN/ESPN+
  • Session 5 - Medal Round    Saturday    March 23    11am    ESPNU/ESPN+
  • Session 6 - Championship Finals    Saturday    March 23    7pm    ESPN/ESPN+

Where Are The NCAA Wrestling Championships 2024

The 2024 NCAA Wrestling Championship will be held at T-Mobile Center in Kansas City, Missouri from March 21-23.

The 2025 NCAA Wrestling Championships will be held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at the Wells Fargo Center while the 2026 NCAA Wrestling Championships are set for Cleveland, Ohio at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. 

NCAA Wrestling Championships 2024 At Large Bids


  • 125    California Baptist    Elijah    Griffin    Big 12
  • 125    Oregon State    Brandon    Kaylor    Pac 12
  • 125    Rider    Tyler    Klinsky    MAC
  • 125    Ohio State    Brendan    McCrone    Big Ten
  • 125    Northern Colorado    Stevo    Poulin    Big 12
  • 125    Harvard    Diego    Sotelo    EIWA
  • 133    Ohio State    Nic    Bouzakis    Big Ten
  • 133    Pennsylvania    Michael    Colaiocco    EIWA
  • 133    Northern Iowa    Julian    Farber    Big 12
  • 133    Missouri    Kade    Moore    Big 12
  • 133    Minnesota    Tyler    Wells    Big Ten
  • 141    Gardner-Webb    Todd    Carter    SoCon
  • 141    Cornell    Vince    Cornella    EIWA
  • 141    Virginia Tech    Tom    Crook    ACC
  • 141    Maryland    Kal    Miller    Big Ten
  • 141    Columbia    Kai    Owen    EIWA
  • 141    West Virginia    Jordan    Titus    Big 12
  • 149    Rutgers    Michael    Cetta    Big Ten
  • 149    South Dakota State    Alek    Martin    Big 12
  • 149    Pittsburgh    Finn    Solomon    ACC
  • 149    Pennsylvania    Jude    Swisher    EIWA
  • 157    Virginia Tech    Bryce    Andonian    ACC
  • 157    Little Rock    Matty    Bianchi    Pac 12
  • 157    Minnesota    Michael    Blockhus    Big Ten
  • 157    Northern Colorado    Vinny    Zerban    Big 12
  • 165    NC State    Derek    Fields    ACC
  • 165    Michigan State    Caleb    Fish    Big Ten
  • 165    Pittsburgh    Holden    Heller    ACC
  • 165    Bucknell    Noah    Mulvaney    EIWA
  • 165    Ohio    Garrett    Thompson    MAC
  • 174    Pittsburgh    Luca    Augustine    ACC
  • 174    Northern Iowa    Jared    Simma    Big 12
  • 174    Penn State    Carter    Starocci    Big Ten
  • 174    Navy    Danny    Wask    EIWA
  • 184    Gardner-Webb    Jha`Quan    Anderson    SoCon
  • 184    Iowa State    Will    Feldkamp    Big 12
  • 184    Pennsylvania    Maximus    Hale    EIWA
  • 184    Campbell    Caleb    Hopkins    SoCon
  • 184    Arizona State    Tony    Negron    Pac 12
  • 197    Northwestern    Evan    Bates    Big Ten
  • 197    Utah Valley    Evan    Bockman    Big 12
  • 197    Franklin & Marshall    John    Crawford    EIWA
  • 197    Virginia Tech    Andy    Smith    ACC
  • 285    Maryland    Seth    Nevills    Big Ten
  • 285    Pittsburgh    Dayton    Pitzer    ACC
  • 285    Minnesota    Bennett    Tabor    Big Ten
  • 285    Cal Poly    Trevor    Tink    Pac-12

NCAA Division 1 Wrestling Rankings

The updated NCAA D1 Wrestling rankings can be found HERE.

FloWrestling Archived Footage

Video footage from all events on FloWrestling will be archived and stored in a video library for FloWrestling subscribers to watch for the duration of their subscription.

Join the College Wrestling Conversation on Social