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  • Photo: Tony Rotundo

    Photo: Tony Rotundo

    2023-24 InterMat's Year-End Big Ten Awards

    This season we saw a ton of parity. Outside of the Happy Valley dominance, we saw Iowa defeat Nebraska, Nebraska defeat Michigan, and Michigan defeat Iowa. Not to mention how 125-pound wrestlers basically all defeated each other and couldn’t hang on to the top ranking. But with all that, no team shined brighter than Penn State which is why they swept our B1G awards.


    B1G Ten Wrestler of the Year: Aaron Brooks (PSU)

    What a dominant year for Brooks who capped off his career with a fourth title, an undefeated record and a near 91% bonus rate. In addition to a flawless season that included 11 technical falls, six pins, and three major decisions, Brooks also had a 96.74%-win percentage with just three losses in five years – two of which he avenged during that same season.

    But this season was by far his best as he increased his Bonus % by a little over 25%. His only wins that came by regular decision were against Iowa’s Zach Glazier during the dual meet - a win he then impressed up by recording a 19-3 tech fall over in the conference tournament and NC State’s Trent Hidlay in the NCAA finals.

    Brooks finished as a five-time B1G Ten Conference finalist where he won four titles and a runner-up finish, to go along with being the 2024 NCAA Championships Most Outstanding Wrestler, a multiple-time Hodge Trophy finalist, and an 89-3 record for his career.

    Honorable mention: Carter Starocci (PSU)

    Listen to Brooks speak after making NCAA wrestling history as a four-time NCAA Champ:



    Freshman of the Year: Mitchell Mesenbrink (PSU)

    Mesenbrink came into the season with a ton of hype and expectation. Many of us couldn’t wait to see him compete at the NCAA level after transferring to PSU from California Baptist where he took a redshirt year, and he lived up to every bit of it. The 2023 74kg U20 Champion ran the 165-pound weight class in the conference where his crazy pace propelled him to a B1G Ten title and the NCAA finals where he took his first loss.

    In his first conference tournament, he recorded a technical fall, a second-period pin, and a wild 13-11 comeback win over Wisconsin’s Dean Hamiti in the finals. He followed that up with three bonus point wins and a pair of decisions on his way to the final where he came just a point short of being an undefeated redshirt freshman NCAA Champion. He completed the year with a 70% bonus rate and a 26-1 record as he finished second at the NCAA Championships in the 165-pound bracket.

    Honorable mention: Rocco Welsh (Ohio State)

    Listen to Mesenbrink’s comments after winning in the NCAA semifinals:


    Coach of the Year: Cael Sanderson (PSU)

    It’s all about having fun, scoring points and trying to get better. That’s what Coach Cael Sanderson says is the focus for him and his team. So far throughout his tenure at Penn State, that’s worked perfectly. And this year was particularly better than others as he and his team broke the points record at the NCAA tournament with 172.5 and crowned four champions with two of the four – Carter Starocci (174) and Aaron Brooks (197) – making NCAA history as they became the sixth and seventh wrestlers to win four titles.

    In addition to the tremendous finish to the season was a flawless dual meet record of 12-0 and a B1G Ten conference team title where they scored 170.5 points and won titles at five of the 10 weights. They also advanced all 10 guys to the NCAA tournament where they had eight four All-Americans to go along with the four champs. It really was a historical year for Coach Sanderson and his team. They proved once again why they are the perennial powerhouse and one of the most dominant teams in NCAA history.

    Honorable mention: Sean Bormet (Michigan)

    Listen to Sanderson’s comments after winning another NCAA title:


    Previous Award Winners

    Wrestler of the Year

    2023: Mason Parris (Michigan)

    2022: Gable Steveson (Minnesota)


    Freshman of the Year

    2023: Levi Haines (Penn State)

    2022: Dean Hamiti (Wisconsin)


    Coach of the Year

    2023: Cael Sanderson (Penn State)

    2022: Sean Bormet (Michigan)

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