Wrestling magazines announce 2019 college awards

It's been a couple months since the college wrestling mats were rolled up and put away for the season. Even though it's the offseason, now is an unbeatable time for three national wrestling magazines -- WIN (Wrestling Insider Newsmagazine), Wrestling USA and Amateur Wrestling News -- to reveal their award winners for the 2018-2019 season.

WIN 2019 special award winners

In terms of wrestling awards, WIN magazine may be best known for its Dan Hodge Trophy, given each year to the nation's top college wrestler a week or so after the conclusion of wrestling season. (This year's honoree: Bo Nickal of Penn State.) The May 29, 2019 issue of WIN unveiled its choices for its annual collegiate awards beyond the Hodge, including:

Rutgers coach Scott Goodale with NCAA champion Anthony Ashnault (Photo/Tony Rotundo,

  • Dan Gable Coach of the Year: Rutgers' Scott Goodale: Goodale, head coach at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, since 2007, was honored with year's award for guiding the Scarlet Knights to their first top ten finish at the NCAA championships… and for coaching the program's first national champions in Nick Suriano at 133 pounds, and Anthony Ashnault at 149.

    "We needed a year like this. Top guys growing up wanting to wrestle at a top-brand school," the 47-year-old Goodale told WIN Editor Mike Finn. "The elite schools are brand names so it's been super, super hard to get those guys to believe in what we're trying to do. I like to think, from a wrestling standpoint, we are making Rutgers a brand name."

    WIN first presented its Coach of the Year award in 1997.

  • Schalles Award: Penn State's Bo Nickal: Nickal, who concluded his college mat career with his third NCAA title, the 2019 Hodge Trophy and 2019 InterMat Wrestler of the Year honors, also managed to be the nation's top pinner for the second straight season… making the Nittany Lion fall guy a natural choice to receive an award named in honor of Wade Schalles, one of the all-time top collegiate pinners in his time at Clarion in the early 1970s.

    "Being in the Penn State room and having the amazing partner and coaches that I have, I've seen ten times the in practice every situation I've been in during a match," according to Nickal, who also won the Schalles Award in 2018. Cal State Bakersfield heavyweight champ (and future New England Patriots star) Stephen Neal was the first wrestler to pin down the award, in 1999.

  • Junior Schalles Award: Greg Kerkvliet: Kirkvliet earned WIN's annual award for top prep pinner. One stat to demonstrate the pinning prowess of the 225-pounder for Simley High School in Minnesota: Kirkvliet never had a match go beyond the first period. In fact, he spent just less than 15 minutes total on the mat this season.

    "I did my work in the wrestling room so I'd just get the first hold that I saw and locked up," said Kirkvliet, who plans to redshirt in his first season of college before taking to the mat for Ohio State.

    Wade Schalles, who was a phenomenal pinner himself in high school, created the Junior Schalles Award in 1999. First recipient: Nick Simmons.

  • Journalist of the Year: Justin Hoch, photographer: Hoch created "The Fire Inside" project which WIN described as an "extremely up-close and intense group of portraits of at least 1,800 people who are currently associated with the sport of wrestling. (Images available for viewing at

    J.R. Ogden of the Cedar Rapids Gazette was the first journalist to receive this award, in 1999.

    Wrestling USA 2019 awards

    Wrestling USA's May 30, 2019 issue featured a handful of yearly, national awards, including two college-related honors:

  • Coach of the Year: Rutgers' Scott Goodale: As Wrestling USA pointed out in its announcement, Goodale had produced ten NCAA All-Americans in the past six seasons, and since 2009, has earned five top ten finishes and eight top 25 finishes in the USA Today/NWCA (National Wrestling Coaches Association) Division I Coaches Poll.

  • Sportswriter of the Year: Shannon Heaton: Heaton had covered wrestling in Iowa, but his career took him to Florida, where he put his passion for the sport into developing the Northeast Florida Matmen website in 2013. Over the years, the website has grown to cover 96 schools in northern Florida and southern Georgia. As Wrestling USA described it, "His website is an encyclopedic home for northern Florida wrestling with links to results going all the way back to the 2013-14 season ..."

    Amateur Wrestling News 2019 awards

    AWN -- the oldest publication devoted to covering wrestling on a national basis -- has revealed some of its national collegiate wrestling honors in two separate issues over the past couple months.

    The May 15 issue celebrated first-year successes, with its annual Rookie of the Year wrestler award, and Rookie Coach of the Year honors.

    Mekhi Lewis celebrates after beating Alex Marinelli of Iowa in the NCAA quarterfinals (Photo/Tony Rotundo,

    "Virginia Tech's Mekhi Lewis is our hands-down Amateur Wrestling News pick for annual Rookie of the Year honors," is how the magazine opened its story announcing its choice for top college freshman mat star. The article went on to mention that Lewis defeated two-time champ Vincenzo Joseph of Penn State to win the 165-pound title, becoming the Hokies' first national wrestling champ ... and was also named the tournament's Outstanding Wrestler.

    The same issue of AWN tabbed University of Michigan head coach Sean Bormet as its choice for 2019 Rookie Coach of the Year. Among the highlights of Bormet's first season at the helm: the Wolverines' 19-17 dual-meet upset of second-ranked Ohio State in Columbus ... and taking his team to its second consecutive top-five finish in the team standings at the 2019 NCAA championships in Pittsburgh.

    Some previously-announced awards and honors

    Prior to the WIN, Wrestling USA and Amateur Wrestling News awards published in their May print editions, other sources which cover the national collegiate wrestling scene had announced their annual honors.

    The April 15 issue of Amateur Wrestling News had named Arizona State's Zahid Valencia -- crowned 174-pound champ at the 2019 NCAAs -- as recipient of the publication's "Hammer Award" presented each year for the past five years to the top collegiate wrestler in the country. (Previous recipients include Ohio State's Logan Stieber, Alex Dieringer of Oklahoma State, Bo Nickal of Penn State, and Iowa's Spencer Lewis.)

    InterMat revealed its annual awards at the end of the college wrestling season. In addition to naming Bo Nickal as 2019 InterMat Wrestler of the Year, the website's staff selected Mekhi Lewis of Virginia Tech as 2019 InterMat Freshman of the Year, and Penn State's Cael Sanderson as 2019 InterMat Coach of the Year.
  • Comments

    Login or Register to post a comment