Jim Kalin presented Zahid Valencia with the Hammer Award
Days after winning the 174-pound title at the 2019 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships, Zahid Valencia was named winner of Amateur Wrestling News' Hammer Award for winning the title in the most competitive weight class.
Now, six months later, Valencia has been handed The Hammer on his home turf at Arizona State.
Amateur Wrestling News, the oldest national wrestling publication, sent writer Jim Kalin to present the award to Valencia in front of 45,786 fans gathered at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe for the Arizona State-Colorado football game this past Saturday afternoon.
Back in March, Valencia won the 174-pound title at the 2019 NCAAs in Pittsburgh, defeating 2017 NCAA champion Mark Hall of Penn State in the finals. The bracket was filled with mat talent: in addition to the two NCAA champs at the weight (Valencia and Hall), there was a total of eight returning All Americans. Valencia finished the season 31-2, with those two losses being to Hall and Missouri's Daniel Lewis. The Sun Devil avenged both at the NCAAs.
"An award is only as prestigious as the quality of those who have previously won it," Kalin told InterMat.
Past recipients of The Hammer include Logan Stieber of Ohio State, Oklahoma State's Alex Dieringer, Bo Nickal of Penn State, and Iowa's Spencer Lee.