2023 NCAA All-American Aaron Nagao (photo courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com)
Once again for the third time in a week, Penn State picked up a significant transfer. Last week the Nittany Lions got commitments from three-time All-American Bernie Truax and U20 World silver medalist Mitch Mesenbrink. Today, it was 133 lb NCAA fifth-place finisher Aaron Nagao.
Nagao isn't a stranger to Penn State fans. As a redshirt freshman in 2023, Nagao made the Big Ten finals opposite Nittany Lion two-time champion Roman Bravo-Young. Nagao held his own against the veteran Bravo-Young, but fell 5-2. The pair would meet again in the NCAA quarterfinals, with RBY winning 4-1. Nagao rebounded to major Iowa State's Zach Redding to lock up All-American honors. After that, Nagao posted wins over ACC champion Kai Orine and Ohio State super-freshman Jesse Mendez to take fifth place.
Overall, in his first full year competing for Minnesota, Nagao posted a 23-6 record. He turned it on in the postseason with wins over Mendez and two-time AA Lucas Byrd (Illinois) at the Big Ten Championships.
With Nagao's addition, Penn State can now roll out a 2023-24 lineup that features eight returning All-Americans. Nagao's fifth-place finish represents the "lowest" NCAA placement of all of those AA's.
We're still more than six months away from the start of the 2023-24 season and just under 11 months away from the national tournament, but it looks like Penn State had a huge lead over the rest of the field.