The Hodge Trophy goes to the most outstanding wrestler in college every year, and just like last year, the country's best wrestler was Zain Retherford. Retherford picked up 35 of 48 first place votes en route to his landslide victory for his second Hodge Trophy. He beat out fellow teammate Bo Nickal, South Dakota State's Seth Gross and Arizona State's Zahid Valencia to win the award. Nickal finished in second place.
Retherford joins a very prestigious list of multiple time Hodge Trophy winners, and he becomes the first wrestler to win the award in consecutive seasons since Ben Askren in 2006 and 2007. He also joins David Taylor as the only two-time Hodge Trophy winners in Penn State history. Coach Cael Sanderson is also a two-time Hodge Trophy winner.
Retherford's dominant senior season made him the runaway favorite for the award. He won 27 of his 31 matches this season by bonus points, and he was the second highest team point scorer at the NCAA Tournament. Retherford's career at Penn State finished with him a three-time national and Big Ten champion, posting a 126-3 record, holding the longest win streak in school history (95), and tied with Josh Moore and David Taylor for most pins in school history.
Cael Sanderson had this to say about Zain Retherford:
“When he won the Hodge (in 2017), it really didn’t change him. He’s still the nice Zain. But when he competes, he’s tenacious and competes to score points and do what it takes. He’s low-key, but he’s competitive and wants to be a World and Olympic champion."
Zain Retherford stated:
“Win or lose a match, I think I became a better person being at Penn State and made the most of it. The thing I’m most proud of is the person I’ve become.”
Retherford will go down as one of the best wrestlers in NCAA history due to his dominance, and now he's got the hardware to show it.