Zain Retherford defeated Missouri's Lavion Mayes by technical fall in the finals (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
Zain Retherford, Penn State's 149-pound NCAA champion, has been voted InterMat Wrestler of the Year for the second year in a row, the amateur wrestling website announced on Tuesday.
Presented each year since 2006 to the best collegiate wrestler in all divisions, the award is based exclusively on the balloting of wrestlers and executives at InterMat prior to the announcement of other college wrestling awards. Each staff member is asked to select five wrestlers and rank them from first to fifth. Point values are assigned to each placement, ranging from one point to a wrestler listed fifth on a voter's ballot, up to nine points for a first-place vote.
Retherford received eight of the 10 first-place ballots for a total of 86 votes. Penn State teammate Jason Nolf, 157-pound champ at the 2017 NCAAs, was at the top of two InterMat staffers' ballots, for a total of 57 votes.
The Benton, Pa. native racked up yet another dominating season, with a 28-0 record as a junior to add to his 63-match overall win streak -- the longest in NCAA Division I wrestling -- putting bonus points on the board in 98 percent of his matches. At the 2017 NCAAs, the top-seeded Retherford continued that trend, scoring four victories by technical fall and one by pin, concluding his three days at the Scottrade Center with an 18-2 technical fall over No. 3 Lavion Mayes of Missouri in the finals. That dominating win set the stage for all four of his Penn State teammates to win their title matches in succession ... going five-for-five in the finals. Even though the Nittany Lions had already locked up the championship before the finals, Cael Sanderson's five finalists winning five titles was a substantial contribution to Penn State winning its sixth national team title in the past seven years in runaway fashion.
Retherford not only left St. Louis with his second consecutive title at 149, but also earned NCAA Most Dominant Wrestler honors for the 2016-17 season, his second year in a row for that award. If that weren't enough, "Zain Train" was also voted Outstanding Wrestler of the 2017 NCAAs.
Retherford is only the second wrestler to have earned back-to-back Wrestler of the Year honors in the dozen years InterMat has presented the award, joining Missouri's Ben Askren, who won the award in 2006 and 2007. In addition, Retherford is the third Penn State wrestler to have been voted InterMat Wrestler of the Year, joining Ed Ruth who received the honor in 2012, and David Taylor in 2014.
In the coming days, InterMat will announce winners of its annual Freshman of the Year and Coach of the Year honors.
2017 InterMat Wrestler of the Year Voting Results
1st-5th Place Votes: 9, 7, 5, 3, 1
Total Votes/(First-Place Votes)
1. Zain Retherford, Penn State 86 (8)
2. Jason Nolf, Penn State 57 (2)
3. J'den Cox, Missouri 41
4. Kyle Snyder, Ohio State 28
5. Bo Nickal, Penn State 13
6. Dean Heil, Oklahoma State 9
7. Vincenzo Joseph, Penn State 7
7. Riley Lefever, Wabash 7
9. Cory Clark, Iowa 2
InterMat Wrestler of the Year Past Winners:
2016: Zain Retherford, Penn State
2015: Logan Stieber, Ohio State
2014: David Taylor, Penn State
2013: Kyle Dake, Cornell
2012: Ed Ruth, Penn State
2011: Jordan Burroughs, Nebraska
2010: Jayson Ness, Minnesota
2009: Jake Herbert, Northwestern
2008: Brent Metcalf, Iowa
2007: Ben Askren, Missouri
2006: Ben Askren, Missouri