Voters found a way to defeat Ohio State junior Kyle Snyder, who hasn’t lost a college wrestling match the past two years.
The Dan Hodge Trophy, given to the nation’s top collegiate wrestler, was awarded Tuesday to Penn State junior Zain Retherford.
Retherford had a 28-0 record this season in the 149-pound division, winning his second straight NCAA championship while helping the Nittany Lions to their sixth team title in seven years.
Retherford got 33 of 45 first-place votes. Missouri senior J’den Cox (197 pounds), a three-time NCAA champion and an Olympic medalist, finished runner-up with five votes. Snyder was third with four votes, and Penn State sophomore Jason Nolf, the 157-pound national champ, got three votes.
Snyder, a two-time NCAA heavyweight champion and reigning Olympic and world freestyle champion, had the fewest matches among the four finalists because he competed internationally during the season. He went 17-0 for OSU.
Ohio State coach Tom Ryan chuckled incredulously when told that Snyder finished third.
“The best wrestler in college is Kyle Snyder,” Ryan said. “The problem that we’re having in winning this award is that he is so good, his college season is abbreviated because he is overseas a lot.”
The Hodge is voted on by former Hodge winners, national media members, representatives of national wrestling organizations and retired former college coaches from different regions.
Fans help select the winner from the four finalists. Retherford won 49 percent of the nearly 23,000 fan votes, earning him two additional first-place ballots. Snyder received only seven percent of the fans’ votes (1,651), third most.