Penn State wrestler Aaron Brooks seeks 3rd straight national title and to 'glorify God'

The 2023 NCAA Wrestling Championships are officially upon us, and one of the individual title favorites is Penn State senior Aaron Brooks.

He’s the two-time reigning champion in the 184-pound weight class, winning at the 2021 championships in St. Louis and at the 2022 championships in Detroit. Last year, Brooks also helped Penn State win the program’s 10th team championship and the ninth in the last 12 seasons.

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Brooks enters this year’s tournament in Tulsa, Oklahoma, as the No. 3 seed at 184 pounds. He’s 12-1 on the year, and that one defeat was only the third loss of his career. It came against Iowa State’s Marcus Coleman (the No. 5 seed) in late December, resulting in a lower seeding than many would have expected for Brooks. The 184-pound weight class is certainly littered with a number of dangerous competitors striving to supplant Brooks as champion.

One need look no further than NC State’s Trent Hidlay, the No. 2 seed who very nearly upset Brooks in each of the last two tournaments. To wrestling fans’ delight, the pair just may be on another collision course this go-round, as a matchup looms in the semifinals.

But Brooks doesn’t worry himself with hypothetical what-if scenarios or media attention.

“I think in life in general, a lot of times we can get caught up in the future and the past,” Brooks told the Centre Daily Times in December. “If I’m present, I see what’s coming, whether it’s wrestling or a friend that needs help. God’s been showing me what true peace is and what things I really seek. Like I said, being present is a big blessing.

“Growing up in high school, first couple years in college, that’s something that you don’t realize is a big blessing. You go out there, you kind of have expectations (from) the world, coaches, fans, media, and you’re not present. You’re focused on other things. [God] shows me that.”

Brooks has never been shy about sharing his faith whether in interviews or on his Instagram account, where he shares numerous references to Bible verses and his bio reads, “Jesus is King.”


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In a post-match interview with ESPN last year, Brooks said his focus was squarely on his Heavenly Father.

“When I say that, I mean it,” Brooks said, according to “This is all God. He works through me. I’m just blessed.”

After claiming his second title with a 5-3 win against Michigan’s Myles Amine last year, Brooks fell to his knees on the mat and pointed Heavenward.

“I’ve been blessed with a platform, to go out there and compete on a big level (at) Penn State,” he told the Centre Daily Times, “but I’ve also been blessed with being a leader on this team. … It’s really important for me to make sure I’m doing the right things in everything I’m doing. No one’s perfect, but when God calls me and reminds me how high my calling is and how much of an influence I have on everyone around me, I take it seriously.”

Brooks says there is a higher purpose to what he does, even as he does it better than almost anyone else in college.

“This platform is great to wrestle on, but it’s to glorify God,” he told the Penn State student newspaper last year. “This stuff comes and goes. I’m blessed with this opportunity, these gifts. They’re not mine. He gives them to me to bring glory to Him.”

As Brooks seeks to bring glory to God’s name, he will begin his pursuit of a third consecutive individual national championship when tournament matches begin Thursday, March 16. Up first for Brooks is a matchup against No. 30 seed Matthew Waddell of Chattanooga.

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