Penn State wrestling: Aaron Brooks fueled by training partner, Olympian David Taylor

Lock Haven’s Colin Fegley tries to push off Penn State’s Aaron Brooks in the 184 lb bout of the match on Friday, Nov. 11, 2022. (Abby Drey/adrey@centredaily.com)

Aaron Brooks (184) is a two-time national champion in his weight class. With his success brings added exposure. He aided Olympian and former Penn State wrestler David Taylor in his training during the 2020 Olympics. Taylor won gold in Tokyo with Brooks in close view of his Penn State predecessor.

Now, Brooks is using the experience to fuel him toward his ultimate goal of becoming an Olympian and world champion like his training partner.

“We were together at the Tokyo Olympics together so it’s been a blessing having guys like him in the room,” Brooks said Tuesday during media availability. “To learn from those guys and even pick their brains and to see what they do, you can learn a lot from seeing them with the way they train, seeing their diet and seeing how serious they take recovery.”

Brooks is now 1-0 on the year and defeated Lock Haven’s Colin Fegley 24-9 in a Nov. 11 dual. He additionally won in the NWCA All-Star Classic on Nov. 22. The No. 1 wrestler in the 184 weight class beat Northern Iowa’s Parker Keckeisen 12-8.

The key to his success was to “be in the present.”

“Preparation is preparation and you come in, make weight, feel good and go wrestle. Good,” Brooks said. “I’m not thinking about the future when I’m wrestling the guy right there. I’m not going to go out there and think, ‘I don’t want to do this move.’ Because when he catches up to you know what happens happens. We meet again, the future and being present that day. So. I’m never really thinking like that.”

Sanderson was enthused about the opportunity for his wrestlers to get an opportunity to face off against the top talent in the nation. Carter Starocci (174) and Greg Kerkvliet (285) both won their matches. Starocci took down Mehki Lewis of Virginia Tech in the main event of the day in a 2-0 victory. Iowa’s Tony Cassioppi defeated Kerkvliet last season at the Big Ten Championships, but the Penn State heavyweight defeated his opponent 8-5.

“I think it was just for fun for those guys,” Sanderson said. “It was an opportunity to be part of a special event and ... something that kids really wanted to compete in, in college. ... Guys wrestled I think pretty darn good.”

Gary Steen discusses his improvements

Gary Steen (125) won twice at the Black Knight Invitational on Nov. 20. He defeated Campbell’s Zander Phaturos by 3-2 decision and Patrick Adams of Buffalo 10-3. The matches were an example of things Steen focused on heading into the season.

“Coming back after my redshirt year, I noticed that hand fighting is a big difference in college than high school,” Steen said. “So, I wanted to get better there and those areas and they definitely taught me bottoming matters a lot. It’s just getting better top and bottom. All these guys are wrestling through every position. So it’s just learning how to wrestle through every position.”