Penn State junior Zain Retherford earned the Dan Hodge Trophy, given annually to the nation’s most outstanding collegiate wrestler. It’s “the wrestling Heisman”, except that it’s better than the Heisman, because it’s not limited to flashy offensive skill position players in a popularity contest like the Heisman. Every wrestler, D3 thru D1, 125 thru 285, is eligible to win The Hodge. You merely have to be the baddest dude on the mat to earn it.
Zain certainly was that, both last year and this year. He finished the 2016/17 season as national champion at 149lbs (again), going unbeaten (28-0) (again), with 26 bonus wins (93%) (again). And the bonus wins weren’t just 8-point major decisions: 18 falls, 7 techs, and 1 major. Utter devastation. End times apocalypse. He was a runaway freight train, 75 tons of steel moving at high speed, obliterating everyone in his path. It sure was fun to watch.
Zain holds a 64 consecutive match winning streak (55 by bonus). His last collegiate loss came March 22nd, 2014 - his true freshman season. Thankfully, he’s only a junior, and we’ll get to watch him wear the iconic Penn State singlet again next season. Oh by the way? He’s carrying a 3.5+ gpa in Finance. Ghengis Khan can add, too.
The PSU 149lber joins fellow Nittany Lions David Taylor (2012, 2014) and Kerry McCoy (1997) as Hodge Trophy winners. You can (probably) watch Zain next month, April 27 - 29, in Las Vegas for the US Open.