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Photo: Penn State’s Aaron Brooks (right) avenged a Big Ten final loss to Michigan’s Myles Amine to capture his second NCAA championship last March.
Four former Penn State wrestlers — Ed Ruth, Zain Retherford, Jason Nolf and Bo Nickal — have won three national championships in the past. Could Aaron Brooks become the next Nittany Lion to become a three-timer by the time the 2023 NCAAs finish next March in Tulsa, Okla.?
That is one of the storylines in the 184-pound weight class in 2022-23, when seven other All-Americans return, including NC State’s Trent Hidlay, who finished second to Brooks in the 2021 final.
In WIN’s on-going series of previewing each weight class, check out the top Division I contenders this winter. WIN will update its rankings in the November issue as wrestlers finalize their weight classes for this season.
• Penn State’s Aaron Brooks, a native of Hagerstown, Md., is the favorite at this weight after Brooks defeated Michigan’s graduated Myles Amine for the 184-pound championship in Detroit last March.
That came one year after Brooks beat NC State’s Trent Hidlay for the 2021 title and perhaps the Penn State star could already have won three titles considering he was the Big Ten champion prior to the cancelled 2020 NCAAs.
• Like Brooks, NC State’s Trent Hidlay finished his last two seasons on the NCAA medal stand. The native of Lewistown, Pa., was also named ACC Freshman of the Year in 2020. After finishing second to Brooks in 2021, Hidlay — the younger brother to five-time Wolfpack All-American Hayden Hidlay — settled for fifth place in 2022 after losing in overtime to Brooks in last year’s NCAA semifinals.
• Northern Iowa’s Parker Keckeisen would love to continue to make history for his school at this weight by joining former Panther NCAA champion Drew Foster (2019) as UNI’s next national champion. The native of Glendale, Wisc., has made almost an immediate impact since arriving in Cedar Falls in 2019. After taking a redshirt, Keckeisen has finished third in both the 2021 and 2022 national tournaments; becoming the 35th all-time Panther to earn multiple All-American honors. Seeded No. 4, Keckeisen lost in the quarters to Cal Poly’s Bernie Truax, but came back to beat Truax in the consolation final.
• Oklahoma State’s Travis Wittlake was a 2021 All-American, but didn’t place last March at 165 when injuries played a big impact on the Cowboy not qualifying for the 2022 Nationals.
Before that, the native of Coos Bay, Ore., won a Big 12 championship in 2020 to qualify for the cancelled NCAAs. One year later, he was seeded No. 10 and lost a second-round NCAA bout. But, Wittlake battled back to win five wrestlebacks and avenged an earlier loss to Ohio State’s Ethan Smith on his way to finishing fourth.
• Qualifying for a third national tournament propelled Ohio State’s Kaleb Romero to earning his first All-American honor last March. One year after losing in the Round of 12 in 2021, the native of Mechanicsburg, Ohio, was seeded No. 7 in Detroit, where he beat Purdue’s Max Lyon in the Blood Round and eventually claimed sixth place.
• Iowa State’s Marcus Coleman defeated Cornell’s Jonathan Loew for seventh place in last year’s tourney and each wrestler returns in 2022-23.
A native of Ames, Coleman also qualified for the 2021 NCAAs, but did not medal until last March when he beat Oregon State’s Trey Munoz in the Round of 12. Meanwhile, Loew was seeded No. 11 in Detroit, but the native of Wantagh, N.Y., came back to win three wrestlebacks, including an overtime victory over Illinois’ Zach Braunagel in the Blood Round.
• Virginia Tech’s Hunter Bolen has qualified for four national tournaments, including 2021 when the Hokie finished in seventh place. The senior from Floyd, Va., will be looking for redemption this year in Tulsa after finishing 1-2 last season at the NCAAs in Detroit.
• Among the wrestlers who could place for the first time in 2023 is Oregon State’s Trey Munoz. The son of 2001 NCAA champ Mark Munoz started his career at Arizona State and qualified for the 2021 NCAAs at 174, before transferring to Corvallis last year. The Beaver was seeded No. 6 in Detroit, where he lost in the Round of 12. n
2022 NCAA All-American Matches
1st – 2. Aaron Brooks (Penn State) dec. 1. Myles Amine (Michigan), 5-3
3rd – 4. Parker Keckeisen dec. 5. Bernie Truax (Cal Poly), 6-4
5th – 3. Trent Hidlay (NC State) dec. 7. Kaleb Romero (Ohio State), 3-2
7th – 8. Marcus Coleman (Iowa State) dec. 11. Jonathan Loew (Cornell), 8-3
|1||Aaron Brooks||Penn State||Sr.||1st|
|2||Parker Keckeisen||Northern Iowa||So.||3rd|
|3||Trent Hidlay||NC State||Jr.||5th|
|4||Kaleb Romero||Ohio State||Sr.||6th|
|5||Marcus Coleman||Iowa State||Sr.||7th|
|7||Trey Munoz||Oregon State||So.||R12|
|8||Hunter Bolen||Virginia Tech||Sr.||R12/7th in 2021|
|9||Travis Wittlake||Oklahoma State||Sr.||AA in 2020 and ’21/165|
|10||Tate Samuelson||Lehigh (Wyoming)||Sr.||R16|
|13||Anthony Montalvo||Arizona State||Jr.||Transfer/Oklahoma St.|
|18||Matt Finesilver||Michigan (Duke)||Gr.||R16/174|
|19||Layne Malczewski||Michigan State||Sr.||R32|
|20||Gavin Kane||North Carolina||So.||R32|
WIN will preview additional weights between now and Oct. 22