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Shannon Scovel | NCAA.com | January 23, 2023

Penn State wrestling championships: History, stats, records from the dynasty

2022 NCAA wrestling championship final (133 lb.)

The Cael Sanderson era at Penn State ushered in a new wave of championships, titles, expectations and success. Since arriving in State College in 2009, Sanderson has coached 32 NCAA champions and led his team to nine team titles. He’s turned this program into one of the best college wrestling dynasties of this century, and he’s on track to become one of the greatest coaches of all time. 

But Penn State’s history dates back even before Sanderson. 

Here’s a complete look at the success of the Blue and White and the athletes who have come to define Nittany Lion Wrestling. 

Penn State wrestling quick facts

Coach: Cael Sanderson
Location: State College, Pennsylvania
All-time record (through the 2021-2022 season): 974-303-37
NCAA championships: 1953, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2022
Conference tournament championships: 1918, 1919, 1920, 1921, 1924, 1925, 1936, 1937, 1942, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1957, 1960, 1971, 1973, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2019

Penn State wrestling has won a total of 10 national championships including a consecutive run of four titles from 2011-2014 and another run of four titles from 2016-2019. The team is currently ranked No. 1 in the NWCA poll with four returning national champions and nine ranked wrestlers. 

Penn State Statistical Leaders

Penn State season wins
1. Scott Moore: 54 (2003)
2. Kerry McCoy: 47 (1994)
3. Josh Moore: 44 (2004)
T-4. Jim Martin: 43 (1989)
T-4. Kerry McCoy: 43 (1995)
T-4. Mark Becks: 43 (2003)
T-7. Jim Martin: 41 (1988)
T-7. Kerry McCoy: 41 (1997)
9. Josh Moore: 40 (2003)
10. Carl DeStefantis: 39 (1984)

Penn State career wins

1. Jim Martin: 155 (1986-1989)
2. Kerry McCoy: 150 (1993-1997)
3. Josh Moore: 146 (2001-2004)
4. Greg Elinsky: 138 (1984-1987)
5. Ed Ruth: 136 (2011-2014)
6. David Taylor: 134 (2011-2014)
7. Zain Retherford: 126 (2014-2018)
8. Sashiro Abe: 125 (1993-1996)
T-9. Jeremy Hunter: 123 (1997-2000)
T-9: Clint Musser: 123 (1995-1999)

Penn State season pins

1. Josh Moore: 24 (2004)
2. Scott Moore: 22 (2003)
3. Cary Kolat: 20 (1994)
4. Bo Nickal: 18 (2019)
T-6. Zain Retherford: 17 (2017)
T-6. Bo Nickal: 17 (2017)
T-9. Josh Moore: 16 (2003)
T-9. David Taylor: 16 (2014)
T-9. Jason Nolf: 16 (2018)
T-9: Bo Nickal: 16 (2018)

Penn State career falls

1. Jason Nolf: 60 (2016-2019)
2. Bo Nickal: 59 (2016-2019)
T-3. David Taylor: 53 (2011-2014)
T-3. Josh Moore: 53 (2001-2004)
T-3. Zain Retherford: 53 (2014-2018)
6. Ed Ruth: 46 (2011-2014)
7. Mark Hall: 41 (2017-2020)
8. Quentin Wright: 38 (2009-2013)
9. Scott Moore: 35 (2000-2003)
10. Kerry McCoy: 34 (1993-1997)

Penn State wrestlers who were also Olympians

Penn State has had a total of six Olympians, two of whom have medaled. Penn State’s David Taylor became the first Nittany Lion alum to earn gold in 2020 when he defeated Hassan Yazdani of Iran 4-3.  Depending on your device, you may need to scroll the table using the bar at the bottom:

YEAR

ATHLETE

CITY

WEIGHT

MEDAL

1924

Katsutoshi Naito

Paris

56kg

Bronze

1988

Ken Chertow

Seoul

114.5 lb

 

1996

Sanshiro Abe

Atlanta

57kg

 

2000,2004

Kerry McCoy

Sydney, Athens 

Super Heavyweight (120+kg, 130+kg)

 

2016

Frank Molinaro

Rio

65kg

 

2020

David Taylor

Tokyo

86kg

Gold

Penn State wrestling stats, records

Here are some of the most remarkable stats from the Penn State dynasty (as of June, 2020):

  • From 2015-2019, the Nittany Lions held a 60-match win streak that inched them closer to Oklahoma State‚Äôs historic 76-match streak. Penn State‚Äôs winning run came to an end when Arizona State topped the Blue and White 19-15 in Tempe in November 2019.¬†
  • Head coach Cael Sanderson has coached three Hodge winners in his 12¬†years at Penn State, two of whom have won the award twice. David Taylor was the first Nittany Lion to win the Hodge under Sanderson's leadership, and he took home the award in 2012 and 2014. Prior to Taylor, the only Penn State wrestler to win the Hodge was Kerry McCoy in 1997. Zain Retherford then won two Hodge Trophies in 2017 and 2018, while Bo Nickal won his Hodge Trophy in 2019.¬†

Penn State season records

Here's an overview of every Penn State wrestling season from 1908 to today: 

Season

Coach

Record

Conf. (Points)

NCAA (Points)

1908-1909

William E. Lewis 

0-1-0

N/A

N/A

1909-1910

William E. Lewis 

1-1-0

N/A

N/A

1910-1911

William E. Lewis 

4-0-0

N/A

N/A

1911-1912

William E. Lewis 

4-1-0

N/A

N/A

1912-1913

William E. Lewis 

5-0-0

N/A

N/A

1913-1914

J.H. Shollenberger

5-0-0

N/A

N/A

1914-1915

William E. Lewis 

4-1-0

N/A

N/A

1915-1916

William E. Lewis 

5-1-0

N/A

N/A

1916-1917

William E. Lewis 

6-0-0

N/A

N/A

1917-1918

H.C. Yerger

4-0-0

1st

N/A

1918-1919

H.C. Yerger 

2-2-0

1st 

N/A

1919-1920

William E. Lewis

5-1-0

1st 

N/A

1920-1921

William E. Lewis

6-1-0

1st 

N/A

1921-1922

D.D. Detar 

5-1-0

2nd 

N/A

1922-1923

D.D. Detar 

4-3-0

2nd 

N/A

1923-1924

D.D. Detar 

5-0-1

1st 

N/A

1924-1925

Ralph G. Leonard

7-0-0

1st 

N/A

1925-1926

Ralph G. Leonard

6-1-0

3rd

N/A

1926-1927

Charlie Speidel

5-2-0

7th

N/A

1927-1928

Charlie Speidel

5-2-0

3rd 

N/A

1928-1929

Charlie Speidel

6-0-0

2nd 

DNP

1929-1930

Charlie Speidel

5-1-0

5th

DNP

1930-1931

Charlie Speidel

5-1-0

7th 

N/A

1931-1932

Charlie Speidel

4-1-1

5th 

N/A

1932-1933

Charlie Speidel

5-0-0

3rd 

N/A

1933-1934

Charlie Speidel

4-1-1

2nd

N/A

1934-1935

Charlie Speidel

6-0-0

2nd 

5th 

1935-1936

Charlie Speidel

6-1-0

1st 

N/A

1936-1937

Charlie Speidel

6-1-0

1st

N/A

1937-1938

Charlie Speidel

4-2-1

4th 

DNP

1938-1939

Charlie Speidel

5-2-1

2nd 

8th 

1939-1940

Charlie Speidel

5-2-1

4th 

DNP

1940-1941

Charlie Speidel

7-1-0

5th 

13th 

1941-1942

Charlie Speidel

7-1-0

1st 

3rd 

1942-1943

Paul Campbell

4-2-1

3rd 

DNP

1943-1944

Paul Campbell

3-2-0

6th 

DNP

1944-1945

Paul Campbell

3-2-0

5th 

DNP

1945-1946

Paul Campbell

2-3-0

4th 

9th 

1946-1947

Charlie Speidel 

3-4-0

6th 

DNP

1947-1948

Charlie Speidel 

2-3-2

7th 

16th 

1948-1949

Charlie Speidel 

5-2-0

4th 

12th 

1949-1950

Charlie Speidel 

7-1-0

3rd 

9th 

1950-1951

Charlie Speidel 

8-0-0

1st 

3rd 

1951-1952

Charlie Speidel 

9-0-0

1st 

5th 

1952-1953

Charlie Speidel 

9-0-0

1st 

1st 

1953-1954

Charlie Speidel 

6-2-0

2nd 

3rd 

1954-1955

Charlie Speidel 

5-2-0

2nd

2nd 

1955-1956

Charlie Speidel 

7-1-0

2nd 

5th 

1956-1957

Charlie Speidel 

6-2-1

1st

5th 

1957-1958

Charlie Speidel 

2-4-2

4th 

14th 

1958-1959

Charlie Speidel 

5-3-0

2nd 

25th 

1959-1960

Charlie Speidel 

9-0-1

1st

7th 

1960-1961

Charlie Speidel 

6-4-0

3rd

7th 

1961-1962

Charlie Speidel 

6-3-1

4th 

16th 

1962-1963

Charlie Speidel 

5-4-0

5th

18th 

1963-1964

Charlie Speidel 

6-3-1

4th 

8th

1964-1965

Bill Koll

6-4-1

4th 

13th 

1965-1966

Bill Koll

7-2-0

3rd 

23rd 

1966-1967

Bill Koll

8-0-1

3rd

22nd 

1967-1968

Bill Koll

7-3-0

2nd

12th 

1968-1969

Bill Koll

6-2-2

3rd 

20th 

1969-1970

Bill Koll

11-0-0

2nd 

19th

1970-1971

Bill Koll

10-0-1

1st 

4th 

1971-1972

Bill Koll

12-0-0

2nd 

8th 

1972-1973

Bill Koll

11-1-0

1st 

10th 

1973-1974

Bill Koll

10-0-1

2nd

7th

1974-1975

Bill Koll

7-4-1

NA 

10th 

1975-1976

Bill Koll

10-2-0

1st 

10th 

1976-1977

Bill Koll

10-1-0

1st 

18th 

1977-1978

Bill Koll

13-2-0

1st 

15th 

1978-1979

Rich Lorenzo

2-11-0

6th 

DNP 

1979-1980

Rich Lorenzo

8-6-0

4th 

52nd 

1980-1981

Rich Lorenzo

11-6-1

3rd 

6th

1981-1982

Rich Lorenzo

12-3-0

1st 

14th 

1982-1983

Rich Lorenzo

13-2-1

1st 

7th 

1983-1984

Rich Lorenzo

16-2-0

1st 

3rd 

1984-1985

Rich Lorenzo

10-6-0

1st 

7th 

1985-1986

Rich Lorenzo

14-2-1

1st 

5th 

1986-1987

Rich Lorenzo

18-1-1

1st 

3rd 

1987-1988

Rich Lorenzo

14-5-2

1st 

5th 

1988-1989

Rich Lorenzo

20-2-1

1st 

10th 

1989-1990

Rich Lorenzo

15-8-0

1st

6th 

1990-1991

Rich Lorenzo

17-6-1

1st 

3rd 

1991-1992

Rich Lorenzo

18-4-1

1st

3rd

1992-1993

John Fritz

22-0-1

2nd 

2nd 

1993-1994

John Fritz

15-6-0

3rd 

3rd 

1994-1995

John Fritz

5-12-0

6th 

5th 

1995-1996

John Fritz

11-8-1

2nd

4th 

1996-1997

John Fritz

16-4-0

4th

10th 

1997-1998

John Fritz

18-3-0

2nd 

4th 

1998-1999

Troy Sunderland

12-5-0

3rd

4th 

1999-2000

Troy Sunderland

6-11-0

8th

16th 

2000-2001

Troy Sunderland

7-13-0

10th 

25th 

2001-2002

Troy Sunderland

6-12-0

6th 

35th 

2002-2003

Troy Sunderland

11-8-0

3rd 

6th 

2003-2004

Troy Sunderland

14-5-0

5th 

12th 

2004-2005

Troy Sunderland

10-10-0

7th

23rd 

2005-2006

Troy Sunderland

13-4-0

4th 

9th 

2006-2007

Troy Sunderland

14-5-0

4th 

11th 

2007-2008

Troy Sunderland

14-5-0

7th 

3rd 

2008-2009

Troy Sunderland

8-12-2

7th 

17th 

2009-2010

Cael Sanderson

13-6-1

5th

9th 

2010-2011

Cael Sanderson

17-1-1

1st 

1st 

2011-2012

Cael Sanderson

13-1-0

1st 

1st 

2012-2013

Cael Sanderson

13-1-0

1st

1st

2013-2014

Cael Sanderson

15-1-0

1st 

1st 

2014-2015

Cael Sanderson

11-4-0

5th 

6th 

2015-2016

Cael Sanderson

16-0-0

1st 

1st 

2016-2017

Cael Sanderson

14-0-0

2nd

1st 

2017-2018

Cael Sanderson

14-0-0

2nd 

1st 

2018-2019

Cael Sanderson

14-0-0

1st 

1st 

2019-2020

Cael Sanderson

12-2-0

4th 

Canceled 

2020-2021

Cael Sanderson

6-0-0

2nd 

2nd 

2021-2022

Cael Sanderson

17-0-0

2nd 

1st 

Penn State wrestling championship breakdowns

Here is a closer look at all ten national championships with videos, photos, stats and analysis from each of Penn State's title runs: 

1953 (see full brackets)

On their home turf in 1953, the Nittany Lions captured the first team title in program history behind individual titles from¬†Hud Samson and top-four finishes from¬†Dick Lemyre,¬†Gerry Maurey,¬†Don Frey and Joe Lemyre. The weight classes were different ‚ÄĒ with weights ranging from 115 to unlimited ‚ÄĒ and the brackets in this era were small ‚ÄĒ with the 115 pound bracket containing just 12 wrestlers for instance ‚ÄĒ but Penn State still found a way to win. Though the team would not capture another championship for another 58 years, this first title showed what was possible at Penn State. This is a program that would go on to have one of the most successful dynasties of the 21st century, but it all began with the 1953 squad.¬†

National Champions: 
Hud Samson (191 pounds)

All-Americans: 
Dick Lemyre (2nd, 130 pounds)
Gerry Maurey (3rd, 137 pounds)
Don Frey (3rd, 147 pounds)
Joe Lemyre (3rd, 167 pounds)

2011 (see full brackets)

With one national champion and four additional All-Americans, Penn State captured the first title of the Cael Sanderson era, topping Cornell 107.5 to 93.5. Quentin Wright led the way for the Blue and White while freshman David Taylor and Ed Ruth both took second in their respective brackets. Ruth and Taylor would go on to become three and two-time national champions themselves, while 149-pound All-American Frank Molinaro would represent the United States in the Olympics in 20156. This was the beginning. Penn State was building. 

National champions: 
Quentin Wright (184 pounds)

All-Americans: 
Andrew Long (3rd, 133 pounds)
Frank Molinaro (2nd, 149 pounds)
David Taylor (2nd, 165 pounds)
Ed Ruth (3rd, 174 pounds)

2012 (see full brackets)

The 2011-2012 season offered the first glimpse of the truly dominant history that was being written by Sanderson and his team. David Taylor's national title at 165 pounds not only helped the team with its second consecutive title, but Taylor's success also earned him Outstanding Wrestler honors at the national tournament and secured him his first Hodge Trophy. The David Taylor- Ed Ruth duo lifted this Penn State team to new heights during their four-year stretch in the lineup, and the added starpower of fellow national champion Frank Molinaro and future national champ Nico Megaludis and former national champ Quentin Wright further separated the Nittany Lions. Add in All-American Dylan Alton, and this team was special. 

National Champions: 
Frank Molinaro (149 pounds)
David Taylor (165 pounds)
Ed Ruth (174 pounds) 

All-Americans: 
Nico Megaludis (2nd, 125 pounds)
Dylan Alton (3rd, 157 pounds)
Quentin Wright (2nd, 184 pounds) 

2013 (see full brackets)
 

Four points distinguished the Penn State Nittany Lions from national runner-up Oklahoma State in 2013. This year's title was close, but the full Penn State squad came together and, through bonus points and two individual titles, Sanderson once again coached his athletes to bring the national title back to State College. Ed Ruth and Quentin Wright headlined the performance with their individual titles while star David Taylor took second to four-time national champion Kyle Dake of Cornell. Nico Megaludis and Matt Brown also added runner-up finishes, showcasing the eliteness of this Penn State team. 

National champions: 
Ed Ruth (184 pounds)
Quentin Wright (197 pounds)

All-Americans: 
Nico Megaludis (2nd, 125 pounds)
David Taylor (2nd, 165 pounds)
Matt Brown (2nd, 174 pounds)

2014 (see full brackets)

David Taylor's bonus points and Ed Ruth's dominance elevated the Nittany Lions past the Minnesota Gophers by 4.5 points in 2014, marking Penn State's fourth consecutive title in the Cael Sanderson era. Putting seven athletes on the podium is no small feat, and Penn State's depth, as well as the dependable performances from its stars, as come to define this program in the 2010's. The team would go on to finish sixth the following year as Retherford  and Penn State's star true freshman at the time, Jason Nolf and Bo Nickal, all redshirted to set up another impressive run starting in 2016.

National Champions: 
David Taylor (165 pounds)
Ed Ruth (184 pounds)

All-Americans: 
Nico Megaludis (3rd, 125 pounds)
Zain Retherford (5th, 141 pounds)
James English (7th, 149 pounds)
Matt Brown (5th, 174 pounds)
Morgan McIntosh (7th, 197 pounds)

2016 (see full brackets)

After finishing sixth the year before, Penn State once again rolled out its full A-squad and found itself back on top behind championship performances from Nico Megaludis and Zain Retherford. Jason Nolf and Bo Nickal, true freshman in 2016, also made a statement in their first NCAA tournament, finishing second at 157 pounds and 174 pounds, respectively. Jordan Conway earned his second All-American honor this season, while Morgan McIntosh picked up his third podium finish, adding big team points to the Nittany Lion total. Penn State would not lose another NCAA championship until 2021 when they were edged out by the Hawkeyes. 

National Champions: 
Nico Megaludis (125 pounds)
Zain Retherford (149 pounds)

All-Americans: 
Jordan Conaway (6th, 133 pounds) 
Jason Nolf (2nd, 149 pounds)
Bo Nickal (2nd, 174 pounds)
Morgan McIntosh (2nd, 197 pounds)

2017 (see full brackets)

Five-for-five ‚ÄĒ¬†that was Penn State‚Äôs record in the finals of the 2017 NCAA tournament. Zain Retherford, Jason Nolf, Vincenzo Joseph, Mark Hall and Bo Nickal all won their championship bouts, lifting the Nittany Lions over the Ohio State Buckeyes 146.5 to 110. Joseph and Hall, the only two freshmen in the lineup, showed no hesitation competing on the big stage for the first time in their careers, as Joseph pinned No.1-ranked Isiah Martinez, and Hall stopped eventual four-time All-American Bo Jordan. Redshirt sophomores Nolf and Nickal notched the first of what would be three titles each of those dominant wrestlers during their career, and junior Retherford also led with style, earning a tech in the finals that offered even more team points for the Blue and White. The event was a perfect night for the Nittany Lion, and it represented everything the team had become under Sanderson. ¬†

NCAA Champions:
Zain Retherford (149 pounds)
Jason Nolf (157 pounds)
Vincenzo Joseph (165 pounds)
Mark Hall (174 pounds)
Bo Nickal (184 pounds)

All-Americans:
Nick Nevills (5th, 285 pounds)


2018 (see full bracket)

In one of the Nittany Lions’ closer team races, Penn State’s 184-pound NCAA champion Bo Nickal iced the victory for his team in 2018 when he pinned 2017 NCAA champion Myles Martin in his championship bout, securing his second individual championship as well and sending his teammates into a frenzy. Nickal was one of four national champions that year including two-time Hodge Trophy winner Zain Retherford, and fellow two-time title-winners Jason Nolf and Vincenzo Joseph. The storyline going into the 2018 tournament was the potential threat of Ohio State to win it all. Penn State’s depth and star power, however, proved too much for the Buckeyes.  

NCAA Champions:
Zain Retherford (149 pounds)
Jason Nolf (157 pounds)
Vincenzo Joseph (165 pounds)
Bo Nickal (184 pounds)

All-Americans:
Nick Lee (5th, 141 pounds)
Mark Hall (2nd, 174 pounds)
Shakur Rasheed (7th, 197 pounds)
Nick Nevills (7th, 285 pounds)

2019 (see full brackets)

The 2019 season marked the end of folkstyle, collegiate wrestling for Penn State legends Jason Nolf and Bo Nickal, but these two stars ‚ÄĒ¬†who won their third titles in 2019 ‚ÄĒ¬†went out on top. Nickal pinned three of his five NCAA championship opponents to finish the year with a 90% bonus rate, a result that would earn him the Hodge Trophy. Teammate Nolf put up similarly impressive statistics, as he pinned or teched three of his tournament opponents as well on the way to finishing his season with an 83.87% bonus rate. Add senior Anthony Cassar‚Äôs title to the mix, and the Lions were unbeatable. Former NCAA champions Vincenzo Joseph and Mark Hall both picked up runner-up honors, while All-Americans Nick Lee and Roman Bravo-Young finished on the podium in fifth and eighth, respectively. Both Lee and Bravo-Young would go on to pick up at least two titles on their own before the end of their Blue and White careers as well.¬†

NCAA Champions:
Jason Nolf (157 pounds)
Bo Nickal (197 pounds)
Anthony Cassar (285 pounds)

All-Americans:
Roman Bravo-Young (8th, 133 pounds)
Nick Lee (5th, 141 pounds)
Vincenzo Joseph (2nd, 165 pounds)
Mark Hall (2nd, 174 pounds)

2022 (see full brackets)


The Nittany Lions narrowly lost out on the team title in 2021 to the Iowa Hawkeyes, but they reloaded in 2022 and put five on top of the podium the following season to run away with another championship. Nick Lee, Roman Bravo-Young, Carter Starocci and Aaron Brooks all earned their second titles in front of a packed Little Caesars Arena in Detroit while Cornell transfer Max Dean made his impact with the Blue and White known as he earned his first title in a competitive 197-pound bracket. With the exception of Lee, all of these champs returned in 2023 to set Penn State up for another national run. 

NCAA Champions:
Roman Bravo-Young (133 pounds)
Nick Lee (141 pounds)
Carter Starocci (174 pounds)
Aaron Brooks (184 pounds)
Max Dean (197 pounds)

All-Americans:
Greg Kerkvliet (7th, 285 pounds)

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