The annual Hodge Trophy is given to the nation’s top collegiate wrestler. Earning the award usually involves an almost perfect season, which, in 2012-13, might include more than a few candidates.
Penn State’s David Taylor may have been the epitome of perfection a year ago, finishing 33-0 with only one match not resulting in at least a major decision. Taylor beat Lehigh’s Brandon Hatchett by technical fall in the 165-pound NCAA finals and was a deserving Hodge recipient. The Nittany Lion junior has one loss this season, that coming to Cornell’s Kyle Dake, who has won 65-consecutive matches and three national titles. Dake may lead the Hodge pack this year, going for a fourth NCAA title at a fourth weight class.
The two have plenty of company.
Ohio State sophomore Logan Stieber, a national champion at 133 pounds last March, is 18-0 and picked up his tenth pin of the year on Sunday. Every Stieber victory has produced bonus points. Iowa’s Tony Ramos is also unbeaten at 133 pounds and has been making plenty of noise.
Two stars are ranked 1-2 at 141 pounds. Oklahoma’s Kendrick Maple, an All-American last season, is 21-0, with Hunter Stieber a perfect 26-0.
2011 NCAA champion Jordan Oliver is a perfect 23-0 at 149 pounds, while Iowa 157-pounder Derek St. John, an NCAA runner-up in 2012, is also unbeaten.
Penn State’s Ed Ruth and Quentin Wright are a combined 46-0. Any other year Ruth, a national champion last season, might be a runaway winner. Since an 11-9 decision against Lehigh’s Robert Hamlin in his first match, Ruth has beaten every opponent by at least a major decision. Wright pinned second-ranked Matt Wilps of Pittsburgh during the weekend and will be ranked No. 2 behind yet another Hodge candidate, Kent State’s Dustin Kilgore, who is 33-0.
Heavyweight also includes one unbeaten – Missouri’s Dom Bradley.
Division II’s top-ranked St. Cloud State moved its dual winning streak to 46 on Sunday – barely. The Huskies, who finish the dual season 20-0, were taken to the wire by No. 6 Upper Iowa, but prevailed 20-14. UIU’s Trevor Franklin, a two-time DII champion, beat All-American Andy Pokorny at 133 pounds but SCSU raced to a 13-3 lead through five bouts. The Peacocks won three of the next four and trailed 17-14 entering the dual’s final bout where UIU head coach Heath Grimm rolled the dice by moving the top-ranked 197-pounder in DII, Carl Broghammer, up to face All-American Jake Kahnke. Broghammer, among the national leaders in pins and the leader in the latest NCAA Most Dominant Award standings for Division II, initiated a shot in overtime with the bout tied 1-1 but Kahnke countered the shot for a 3-1 victory.
The Huskies finished 21-0 in 2011-12, the first time since the 1949-50 campaign a St. Cloud State squad finished a perfect dual schedule. The last loss? A Jan. 27, 2011, defeat at the hands of Augustana (S.D.).
Edinboro edged Kent State 20-19 on home mats on Sunday. Half of the Fighting Scots’ points were scored by a pair of sophomores, A.J. Schopp and Mitchel Port. Schopp picked up his 16th pin of the season and 35th of his young career to improve to 25-2. The Tyrone, Pa., native is ranked third behind a pair of unbeatens – Ohio State’s Logan Stieber and Iowa’s Tony Ramos. Port, a product of Bellefonte, Pa., had a major decision on Sunday to move to 25-3 for the 2012-13 campaign. He is ranked fifth at 141 pounds. The two went a combined 69-16 as freshmen for head coach Tim Flynn, whose squad wrestles at Iowa this Saturday.
The all-time wins leader at Franklin & Marshall is Craig Blackman, a 1981 graduate who won 117 career bouts. Sophomore 141-pounder Richard Durso is climbing the ladder quickly. The Pennsylvania native is 31-3 this season, and combined with his 30 victories as a freshman he totals 61, good for eighteenth on the Diplomats’ all-time list. Durso qualified for the 2012 NCAA championships and could finally break the Diplomats’ long drought on the All-America stand – Blackmon was also the program’s last All-American.
A week after dropping a dual at Iowa, Penn State bounced back with a pair of victories during the weekend including a 29-18 win at No. 5 Ohio State on Sunday. National champions David Taylor and Ed Ruth each picked up pins for the Nittany Lions (11-1), who trailed 15-4 thanks in part to a pair of Buckeye pins by the Stieber brothers at 133 and 141 pounds, respectively … Cornell’s Kyle Dake scored a fall on Senior Day in Ithaca, N.Y., on Sunday. It marked the 165-pounder’s 65th consecutive victory … Harvard broke a 14-match losing streak to Lehigh on Sunday, getting victories from James Fox at 197 and a pin by Nicholas Gajdzik. It was the Crimson’s first win against Lehigh since 1998 … Iowa’s Matt McDonough, a two-time NCAA champion at 125 pounds, lost his first match in 42 starts on Friday, falling to Illinois’ Jesse Delgado 9-4. The last wrestler to beat McDonough? Delgado in December of 2011 … Cal Poly forfeited three matches in a 50-0 loss to Oregon State on Friday.