Retherford joins Nittany Lion history with award

From Mirror reports

UNIVERSITY PARK — Penn State Nittany Lion wrestler Zain Retherford won the WIN Magazine/Culture House Dan Hodge Trophy on Tuesday, which is presented annually to the top collegiate wrestler in the nation by ASICS.

The Hodge Trophy has been awarded since 1995.

Retherford becomes the third Penn State individual to win the honor. Kerry McCoy won the award in 1997 and David Taylor is one of only three two-time winners, having won in 2012 and 2014 (Nittany Lion head coach Cael Sanderson won three times and Missouri standout Ben Askren twice).

“I met Dan Hodge at a National Wrestling Hall of Fame event a few years ago. To win something like this named in his honor is pretty awesome,” Retherford said. “This award symbolizes who he is as a person and competitor.”

The award, created by Culture House’s Mike Chapman, is named after Hodge, who was a three-time NCAA champion for the University of Oklahoma from 1955 to 1957, was undefeated over those three years at 46-0 and pinned an amazing 36 of those opponents.

Retherford’s explanation of his approach to the sport reveals how he’s able to succeed at such a high level for the Nittany Lions.

“Dominating is a lot like anything in life, like school or whatever you’re doing… you need to be giving your best and not holding back on anything,” he said. “You need to keep scoring and looking for the pin. But, giving your best is the most important part of it. If you can pin or tech the guy, then do it. If 2-1 is your best result, then it’s your best.”

Only two opponents all season kept Retherford from scoring bonus points. Iowa’s 2016 runner-up Brandon Sorenson took the Nittany Lion into the second set of tiebreakers in January before Retherford won 9-8. And one month later, in the National Duals final, Retherford defeated Oklahoma State’s Anthony Collica, 2-1. Otherwise, the Benton High School graduate pinned 17 of 28 opponents for a .610 pinning percentage while also getting seven technical falls and one major decision.

Retherford finished second to Oklahoma State’s three-time champ Alex Dieringer in the 2016 Hodge race. Now winning the Hodge as a junior with a year left, he’ll start next season as the favorite to repeat as the 2018 Hodge winner. However, two of the other three finalists will be back as well. Snyder, also a junior, will be going for this third straight title and Nolf has two years left in State College.

Retherford will receive the trophy at the team’s wrestling banquet on April 9. He then will be publically presented the award a second time this fall at a Nittanhy Lion home football game.