NCAA Preseason Coverage

Way Too Early Lineup Look: 2021-2022 Penn State Nittany Lions

Way Too Early Lineup Look: 2021-2022 Penn State Nittany Lions

Taking a look at who should be the starter at all 10 weight classes for the Penn State Nittany Lions during the 2021-2022 season.

Apr 12, 2021 by JD Rader
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The Hawkeyes will be the favorites to repeat as team champions in 2022, but we all saw what Penn State was able to do in the finals. Four finalists and four champions. With all four of those champions returning and the young star power the Nittany Lions are bringing in, this will be an incredibly fun team to watch.

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The Hawkeyes will be the favorites to repeat as team champions in 2022, but we all saw what Penn State was able to do in the finals. Four finalists and four champions. With all four of those champions returning and the young star power the Nittany Lions are bringing in, this will be an incredibly fun team to watch.

2021-22 Penn State Projected Lineup

125: Robert Howard

133: Roman Bravo-Young

141: Beau Bartlett

149: Nick Lee

157: Shayne Van Ness

165: Alex Facundo/Joe Lee

174: Carter Starocci

184: Aaron Brooks

197: Michael Beard

285: Greg Kerkvliet

125: Robert Howard, SO

Robert Howard had a decent true freshman campaign going 7-6 and making it to the round of 16 at the NCAA Championships. I think that year of experience will pay off for Howard and we’ll see him come back strong in 2021-22. 125 is a weight that doesn’t have crazy depth. If Howard makes some improvements, he can finish as a mid AA next season.

133: Roman Bravo-Young, JR

The Nittany Lions’ first of four returning NCAA championships, Roman Bravo-Young has the makings to be a star in whatever path he chooses to do. Lucky for us, he’ll be wrestling for at least the next two years. He was a big underdog heading into his NCAA final with Daton Fix, but got it done in overtime and will now be the favorite to repeat in 2022. 

Watch Roman Bravo-Young beat Daton Fix for the 2021 NCAA title below.

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141: Beau Bartlett, SO

I’m doing some of my own roster management here, but I think it would be wise for returning 141 national champion Nick Lee to move up to 149 and go with Beau Bartlett at 141. Bartlett wrestled his first four matches at 141 this season before moving up to 149. This hurt Bartlett when the post-season came around as he went just 1-2 at the Big Ten Championships and failed to qualify for the national tournament. I think most people agree that Bartlett is at least a national qualifier level of wrestler, just a victim of being a true freshman at the wrong weight in a weird and shortened season. He can do some damage spending a whole season at 141 lbs.

149: Nick Lee, SR

As mentioned above, Lee could choose to stay at 141. After all, he’s spent four years of his career there. Especially if 2X NCAA champion Yianni Diakomihalis moves up to 149, the odds of winning at 141 are much greater than 149. However, Penn State becomes a better team with Lee at 149 imo.

157: Shayne Van Ness, FR

Shayne Van Ness is just a high schooler, but as the current pound-for-pound #1 high school wrestler in the country, expectations are sky-high. Just check out all the heat in the highlight video Van Ness used to announce his commitment.

Van Ness will have to put on a bit of size as he just competed at 65 kg, or 143.3 lbs., but if he can successfully do that, he has the skill to win at the D1 level.

If Van Ness can’t fill out 157 or if Cael and co. don’t think he’s ready next year, I believe Shayne will redshirt and we could see either of the other two Lee brothers. Freshman Matt Lee or with Alex Facundo arriving on campus NCAA qualifier Joe Lee could possibly cut down to 157 from 165.

165: Alex Facundo, FR/Joe Lee, SO

Yes, Joe Lee was an NCAA qualifier this season and Facundo will be a true freshman, but Facundo is a typical true freshman. The Michigan native is a two-time Cadet World medalist and the #3 overall recruit in the class of 2021. Cael has no issue with wrestling true freshmen if they’re ready.

Watch Alex Facundo take out Cael Valencia at the 2020 UWW Junior Nationals below.

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174: Carter Starocci, SO

Carter Starocci took the first step to becoming a 5X NCAA champion this season when he beat Michael Kemerer in the NCAA finals. With Kemerer announcing he’ll be using his extra year of eligibility and coming back in 2021-22, repeating as champion is far from a done deal. The two split matches this season. Kemerer won 7-2 at Big Tens and Starocci won in OT. He also took a loss to Indiana’s DJ Washington in the first match of the year.

Watch Carter Starocci beat Michael Kemerer for the 2021 NCAA title below.

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184: Aaron Brooks, JR

Having back-to-back returning NCAA champions in your lineup is something Penn State fans have become accustomed to and will be returning in 2021 with Carter Starocci and Aaron Brooks. Brooks ran the table this season going 14-0. A loss to Taylor Venz in January of 2020 is now the lone blemish on Brooks’ two-year career. With the top-ten looking similar to what it did this past season, Brooks will be the odds-on-favorite to repeat.

197: Michael Beard, SO

Michael Beard had a solid freshman year going 10-6 and finishing in 7th place at the NCAA Championships. Beard finished on a high note with a sudden victory win over Wyoming’s Stephen Buchanan in the 7th place match. If AJ Ferrari moves up to heavyweight, Myles Amine moves down or doesn’t come back, and Kordell Norfleet doesn’t come back, Beard could be looking at a high AA finish.

285: Greg Kerkvliet, SO

After barely being able to train this season, Greg Kerkvliet came out and put together an All-American performance at the NCAA tournament. I think with a full year of healthy training and bottom work, Kerkvliet will be a dangerous man. Just a few weeks after the NCAA tournament, he beat Mason Parris at the Olympic Trials. If Gable Steveson leaves NCAA wrestling, watch out.