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PSU Sports 2023-24 Recap | News, Sports, Jobs


Penn State's Aaron Brooks, left, competes against NC State's Trent Hidlay in the 197-pound basketball finals of the NCAA wrestling championships Saturday, March 23, 2024, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

A letter from Pat Kraft (Vice President for University Sports)

Nittany Nation

The 2023-24 academic and athletic year has concluded, and we once again had a great year competing and in the classroom. Congratulations and thank you for your support of Penn State Athletics this season. We look forward to even greater success in 2024-25. We cannot accomplish all we set out to do without each and every one of you playing an integral role in our success.

We have had one team national championship, five individual national champions, seven conference championships, 22 teams participated in their respective NCAA championships, WBIT or bowl games, 19 teams were ranked during their season, 19 were named conference players of the year, 36 All-Americans, and 120 All-Conference honorees. Academically, we have had four CSC Academic All-Americans (the At-Large and track and field teams to be announced), a 3.26 grade point average (GPA) for the academic year, 151 graduating student-athletes, 427 Academic All-Big Ten selections, and 165 Big Ten Distinguished Scholars (3.7 GPA during the academic year).

Here are some of our achievements from this year.

In the overall ranking of the Directors' Cup we took 23rd place.

Wrestling continued its reign, winning its 11th NCAA title and 12th overall under Cael Sanderson, defeating runner-up Cornell by 100 points. Levi Haines, Carter Starocci, Aaron Brooks and Greg Kerkvliet all won individual NCAA titles. Carter and Aaron became four-time NCAA champions for the sixth and seventh time in NCAA history, respectively. In addition, the Nittany Lions captured the Big Ten Dual Meet Championship and the Big Ten Tournament crown, thanks to an impressive five individual champions.

Aaron Brooks won the Hodge Trophy as the best collegiate wrestler in the country, becoming the fifth wrestler from the program to win the honor (seven awards have been won). Aaron continued his great year by securing a spot on the U.S. Olympic wrestling team with his victory in the 86 kg series at the Olympic Qualifiers at the Bryce Jordan Center in April.

Cheickna Traore, who will compete for Ivory Coast at the Paris Olympics, had an absolutely dominant season for the men's track and field team, winning the individual national championship in the 200 meters at the NCAA Outdoor Championships after finishing second in the 200 meters at the NCAA Indoor Championships. Coach John Gondak was the Indoor Mid-Atlantic Regional Coach of the Year and Brandon Rizzo was the Outdoor Mid-Atlantic Regional Assistant Coach of the Year.

The women's hockey team, led by Jeff Kampersal, won its third consecutive CHA title and its second consecutive CHA tournament title with a record of 22-13-3. The team made the NCAA tournament and finished the season ranked 13th. Tessa Janecke, the CHA Player of the Year, earned a spot on Team USA's roster for the IIHF World Championships, where they won the silver medal.

Jeff Cook led the men's soccer program to its seventh Big Ten regular season title and second in his six years at the helm. Peter Mangione earned Academic All-America honors and was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year for the second time.

The men's volleyball team, led by Mark Pavlik, again won both the EIVA regular season and tournament titles and was named All-American four times. The Nittany Lions made it to the NCAA quarterfinals and finished eighth in the final AVCA standings.

The football team posted a second consecutive 10-win season, earning the first berth in the Chick-fil-a Peach Bowl. Olumuyiwa Fashanu was widely recognized as an All-American and Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year before being selected in the first round of the New York Jets in the 2024 NFL Draft. Oh, and did I mention that Olu was a National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete?

The women's volleyball team made its 43rd consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, reaching the NCAA regional semifinals en route to a No. 12 ranking in the AVCA poll. The team defeated No. 2 Wisconsin in front of more than 5,000 fans at Rec Hall for its largest win since defeating No. 1 Stanford in 2017.

Erica Dambach and the women's soccer team extended the country's second-longest NCAA Tournament appearance streak to 29 consecutive years and made the Elite Eight. The program had a record five players selected in this year's NWSL Draft. Dambach's squad also shined in the classroom with three CSC Academic All-American honorees.

Hayley Kitching led the women's track and field team this year after winning two Big Ten individual titles during the indoor season and placing fifth at the NCAA Outdoor Championships en route to being named Big Ten Athlete of the Championships. Florence Caron won Big Ten titles in the 10,000 and 5,000 meters at the conference outdoor championships and was named Big Ten Athlete of the Championships.

The fencing program under new head coach Matteo Zannaro finished fifth at the NCAA Championships.

The men's lacrosse program reached the Big Ten Championship game and, led by Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year TJ Malone, made its second consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance.

Sarah Brown led women's gymnastics to the NCAA regional finals with a school-record score of 197.050 and finished the season ranked 15th. Amani Herring qualified for the NCAA Championships on balance beam.

The women's lacrosse team defeated No. 1 Northwestern in the regular season, earning its first victory over a No. 1 team since 2005. Missy Doherty's team reached the Big Ten Championship game for the third time in program history and appeared in its 27th NCAA Tournament.

Bridget Nemeth of the softball team won Big Ten Freshman of the Year and Freshman All-America honors as she led the team to its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2011 and 13th overall. The Nittany Lions eliminated Albany in the NCAA Regional before falling to Texas State.

The women's basketball team, led by Makenna Marisa and Ashley Owusu, reached the WBIT Final Four. Owusu was subsequently selected by the Dallas Wings in the 2024 WNBA Draft.

The women's cross country team reached the NCAA Championships, where they finished 31st.

Mariano Lazzerini won the 100 breaststroke at the Big Ten Championships, becoming the first Nittany Lion to win the event and the Penn Stater's first individual champion since 2021.

In the men's gymnastics program, Michael Jaroh won the Big Ten title on high bar, while Josh Karnes won the bronze medal on parallel bars at the NCAA Championships. Josh will compete in the U.S. Olympic Trials June 27-30.

Under new head coach Mike Gambino, the baseball team made quite a splash and gained a lot of new fans when it reached the final of the Big Ten tournament for the first time since 2000. Although the Nittany Lions fell just short in the title game, it was a great sign for the future of this program under Mike. The program was also named All-Region three times, the most since 1973.

The baseball game against Kent State on April 16 filled Medlar Field with a program-record 5,025 fans, ranking second in the Big Ten in attendance.

The men's basketball team had a solid first season under Mike Rhoades, with two top-15 finishes and nine conference wins, the second-most for a first-year head coach in program history. Ace Baldwin Jr. was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, becoming the third Nittany Lion to do so.

Hockey player Dylan Lugris has been named the winner of the 2024 Hockey Humanitarian Award, given to college hockey's best citizen – a student-athlete who makes a significant contribution not only to his team but to the community as a whole through volunteerism. Dylan has played a large role in the State College sledge hockey community since arriving in Happy Valley.

Field hockey player Phia Gladieux has earned a place on the United States Olympic team and will represent it at the Olympic Games in Paris.

We hosted two great events this April: the US Olympic Wrestling Trials at the Bryce Jordan Center and the Luke Combs concert at Beaver Stadium. These events are just the beginning!

We have signed a 15-year multimedia rights agreement with Pennsylvania-based Playfly Sports Properties. This relationship marks a new chapter for us in the ever-changing higher education landscape and will provide us with the resources to support all of our student-athletes.

We have several exciting construction projects currently underway or beginning soon, including an All-Athlete Performance Dining and Student Wellness Center in the Greenberg Complex, an East Area Locker Room, a Jeffrey Field Soccer Operations Center, an Indoor Practice Bubble, and renovations to Beaver Stadium. These projects are very student-athlete focused and will enhance our student-athlete experience and position our teams to continue to be competitive at the national level.

In the classroom, our students had an outstanding fall semester with a 3.24 GPA in all 31 sports. We had 80 students with a perfect semester GPA of 4.0. In addition, 581 of our student-athletes had a semester GPA of 3.0 or better, and 298 of them received Dean's List honors.

In the spring, our student-athletes had a 3.29 grade point average across all 31 sports, with 596 student-athletes achieving a 3.0 grade point average or better, 296 being on the Dean's List, and 69 having a 4.0 grade point average, including 17 with an overall 4.0 grade point average.

This fall, we also announced a record success rate of 93%.

Our student-athletes have also given back to our community through over 3,200 hours of community service and over 7,300 hours of student engagement. I couldn't be more proud of them.

I hope you have a great summer and rest up before we begin our exciting 2024-25 athletic year. As always, thank you for your support of Penn State Athletics and our 800+ student-athletes. We couldn't do what we do without you.

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