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Mike Copper: Cathedral Prep wrestler on to big time – Opinion –

Cater Starocci is a major recruit on a Penn State team already full of major recruits.

So, some extra congratulations to Carter Starocci.

It was this past Nov. 21 when the Cathedral Preparatory School senior signed a national letter of intent to wrestle at the college level.

Not just at any college, though.

Not just at any level, either.

Starocci will attend and compete for Pennsylvania State University this time next year. He gained the attention of the Nittany Lions in part for his 46-0 record as a junior.

When Prep returned to action during this past weekend’s Canfield (Ohio) Duals, it marked Starocci’s first appearance as a Rambler since last season’s PIAA Class 3A tournament. He concluded it with a victory in its 160-pound championship match.

Starocci, whose overall varsity record was 124-10 when he arrived at Canfield, achieved national champion status even before his state title run.

He won weight classes in separate freestyle and Greco-Roman competitions, a rarity, during the 2017 United States Marine Corps Cadet/Junior National Championships.

So, again, congratulations, Carter, for signing with Penn State.

Now, prepare to be just another guy in its practice room.


Glad you asked.

Here are varsity highlights for some of the wrestlers listed on Penn State’s 2018-19 roster:

Patrick Higgins: State champ in New Jersey; 130 varsity wins; once pinned an opponent in 7 seconds.

Mason Manville: National Cadet champ and World Team Trials participant.

Brandon Meredith: Record 150 career victories at Spring-Ford High School in Royersford.

Nick Nevills: Three-time state champ in California.

Scott Obendorfer: Two-time state champ in Maryland.

Brody Teske: Four-time Iowa gold medalist who was 175-1.

What do those blue-chippers have in common?

None was considered a regular starter over the Lions’ first month of this season.

Don’t bother with a double-take because I’ll repeat that.

None of those wrestlers were regular starters over the Lions’ first month of this season.

That’s the kind of program Starocci will join.

The kind where other three-, four- and five-star recruits have willingly served as reserves while they work and learn under the tutelage of coach Cael Sanderson and his staff.

It was the spring of 2009 when Sanderson radically altered his sport’s landscape.

That year, the four-time NCAA champ and 2004 Olympic gold medalist stunned the college wrestling world. He spurned coaching Iowa State University, where he went (not a typo) 159-0 as a wrestler, to take over at Penn State.

Sanderson’s decision remains a traitorous one not just in Ames, but the entire state.

In Iowa, amateur wrestling isn’t a way of life.

It is life.

The vibe in State College has been, let’s just say, more forgiving in the ensuing decade since Sanderson’s arrival.

Penn State has boasted at least one individual gold medalist each year since 2011.

Two of its wrestlers, David Taylor and Zain Retherford, were two-time Hodge Trophy winners. The Hodge is wrestling’s version of the Heisman Trophy.

The Lions have also won seven of the past eight NCAA team titles, including its last three.

I tell you all of this because I’m not sure if we — and I include myself — truly appreciate our relative proximity to one of the NCAA’s big-school juggernaut programs.

Think of Penn State as the University of Alabama of Division I wrestling. Except, with more prosperity.

Yes. More prosperity.

Since 2009, the Sanderson-coached Lions have won seven national championships in Division I wrestling.

The Nick Saban-coached Crimson Tide have won five in Division I football.

Different sports? Sure.

But at least you now have a better idea of what Starocci signed up for.

Erie Times-News staff writers share their views from behind the scenes, stories and bylines. Mike Copper can be reached at 870-1614. Send email to

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