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Evan Bruner, Sports Reporter

The 2021-22 college wrestling season will be unlike anything the sport has seen before. The NCAA’s decision to grant all of its 2020-21 winter sports athletes an unconditional extra year of eligibility will allow all of 2020-21’s seniors to return next winter.

So, rosters will be larger and, perhaps, older than ever before.

The NCAA’s decision also allows the Hawkeyes to bring every wrestler from their 2020-21 national championship team back for another wrestling season.

Although the Hawkeyes will likely be the odds-on favorite to win an NCAA title again next season, there are certainly some worthy challengers that stand in their way.

In 2021-22, it will be nearly impossible for Iowa to overlook Penn State. The Nittany Lions have won eight of the last 10 NCAA Championships, and four of their wrestlers won individual national titles in 2020-21.

In 2020-21, six wrestlers in Penn State’s lineup were freshman — the most of any top-placing team at the NCAA Championships.

Highly coveted high school recruits like 125-pound Robert Howard and 149-pound Beau Bartlett cracked the Nittany Lions’ starting lineup as true freshmen last season, and they will only get better as their careers continue.

Additionally, Penn State has emerged as an early favorite to land this season’s 165-pound NCAA Division I Wrestling Champion Shane Griffith. Griffith will likely transfer from Stanford before next season as the institution elected to cut its wrestling program at the end of the 2020-21 academic year.

With some improvement at their less established weights and the potential addition of Griffith, the Nittany Lions — who finished just 15 points behind the first-place Hawkeyes at the 2020-21 NCAA Championships — could challenge Iowa in 2021-22.

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