Ferrari named InterMat Freshman of the Year

A.J. Ferrari after picking up a win over Michigan's Myles Amine in the NCAA semifinals (Photo/Sam Janicki,

A.J. Ferrari "talks a big game and he shows a big game."

Those were the words of Oklahoma State head wrestling coach John Smith when discussing his true freshman 197-pounder after Ferrari captured the NCAA title this past Saturday night in St. Louis, becoming only the third Cowboy true freshman to win a national title, joining Richard Hutton (1947) and Pat Smith (1990)

On Wednesday, Ferrari was named InterMat Freshman of the Year.

This award, presented each year since 2006 to the best college freshman wrestler, is based exclusively on the balloting of writers at InterMat. Each writer is asked to select five freshman 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.

Ferrari received eight first-place votes (out of 10) from the InterMat staff, for a total of 86 points to put him No. 1 in this year's InterMat Freshman of the Year voting. In second place was 174-pound NCAA champion Carter Starocci of Penn State, who was the top choice among two InterMat writers, earning a total of 74 points. No other wrestler received a first-place vote for the award.

NCAA third-place finisher Parker Keckeisen (Northern Iowa) finished third in the voting with 30 points, while All-Americans John Poznanski (Rutgers) and Keegan O'Toole (Missouri) rounded out the top five. Others receiving votes included Cohlton Schultz (Arizona State), Sam Latona (Virginia Tech), Greg Kerkvliet (Penn State), Cameron Amine (Michigan), Lucas Byrd (Illinois) and Rocky Elam (Missouri).

Ferrari stepped into the Cowboy lineup at 197 pounds immediately as a true freshman in 2021 after compiling a 96-1 record over his high school career at Allen High School (Texas), Blair Academy (N.J.) and Bergen Catholic (N.J.). After winning a Big 12 title and earning Outstanding Wrestler honors, Ferrari entered the 2021 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships in St. Louis as the No. 4 seed. He reached the finals with four straight wins, including a 5-1 semifinal win over Olympian and top-seeded Myles Amine of Michigan. In the finals, Ferrari claimed a 4-2 victory over Pitt's Nino Bonaccorsi. He finished his first college season with a 20-1 record and only surrendered two takedowns.

In the 16-year history of InterMat Freshman of the Year balloting, A.J. Ferrari is the second Oklahoma State wrestler to have earned the honor, joining three-time NCAA champion Alex Dieringer, who received the award in 2013.

2021 InterMat Freshman of the Year Voting Results
1st-5th Place Votes: 9-7-5-3-1
Total Votes/(First-Place Votes)

1. A.J. Ferrari, Oklahoma State 86 (8)
2. Carter Starocci, Penn State 74 (2)
3. Parker Keckeisen, Northern Iowa 30
4. John Poznanski, Rutgers 18
5. Keegan O'Toole, Missouri 15
6. Cohlton Schultz, Arizona State 13
7. Sam Latona, Virginia Tech 6
8. Greg Kerkvliet, Penn State 5
T9. Cameron Amine, Michigan 1
T9. Lucas Byrd, Illinois 1
T9. Rocky Elam, Missouri 1

InterMat Freshman of the Year Past Winners

2020: Sammy Sasso, Ohio State
2019: Mekhi Lewis, Virginia Tech
2018: Spencer Lee, Iowa
2017: Mark Hall, Penn State
2016: Jason Nolf, Penn State
2015: Isaiah Martinez, Illinois
2014: Jason Tsirtsis, Northwestern
2013: Alex Dieringer, Oklahoma State
2012: Logan Stieber, Ohio State
2011: David Taylor, Penn State
2010: Kyle Dake, Cornell
2009: Andrew Howe, Wisconsin
2008: Mike Grey, Cornell
2007: Jake Varner, Iowa State
2006: Dustin Schlatter, Minnesota


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GoBlue150 (1) about 2 weeks ago
This punk is a tool. Excellent wrestler...yes. Excellent He embarrassed himself, Oklahoma State, John Smith and the sport with his antics. He earned the title, but IMO, he also earned a beating by his teammates...your a freshman doing stupid things. With the way he acted, one would be surprised to ever see him in the finals again. Heck, with the way he acted, it might be safe to assume he will fail out at some point. I would have thought John Smith would hold his athletes to a higher standard.
boulderboulder (1) about 2 weeks ago
Okay, boomer
jasonbryant (1) about 2 weeks ago
I saw him stand around in Little Rock signing autographs for every little kid who came up to him. Selfies and the kids walked away raving about the experience. He might be a showman on the mat, but the kid ran right up to his mama after winning, took a ton of selfies and autographs for kids and generally enjoys wrestling.

He's a loudmouth and boastful, but there's also a lot of things he does we don't see that paint a bit clearer picture. His antics might not be for everyone, but when the lights aren't shining, he's shown himself to be approachable and respectful to the generation of kids watching him. Food for thought.
Oricalde21 (1) about 2 weeks ago
You’re the tool, and an asshole for even making the comment about him failing in the future. You sound like a jealous old hag, stay in your basement troll.
BadgerBoy (1) about 2 weeks ago
A 3rd place tops a National Title? Starroci is the clear choice. Although the Top 5 is justified, the order is all wrong. 197# did not have nearly the Competition that 165 and 174 did.
Oricalde21 (1) about 2 weeks ago
Who was rated higher than Starocci with a 3rd place finish? Ferrari won it in case you missed that, he also had a loss less than Starocci and is a True Freshman. You can’t even spell his name, and it’s right there in the article. And no, he isn’t the “cLeAr ChOiCE”

197 only had an Olympian that placed 5th at the world to qualify the small country of San Marino, but please dismiss that since it’s freestyle. By the way, Amine only placed 3rd three times and 4th once. You don’t know what you’re talking about.
ban basketball (1) about 2 weeks ago
Hello, Johny Hendricks!

Same kind of mat persona.
dbestsport (1) about 2 weeks ago
A truly extraordinary Freshman class. One of the best I can remember.
The future looks bright for wrestling fans.
tortola15 (1) about 2 weeks ago
AJ is 18, just a kid. Compare his behavior to an adult like, say Tom Brands and the kid is breathe of fresh. He did pull a Metcalf bully move or act like a brat (Desanto). AJ never disrespects his opponents. I vote for kids having fun.
ban basketball (1) about 2 weeks ago
Ouch! Well put, my friend. ;)
GoBlue150 (1) about 2 weeks ago
No, he is an matter what age. Smith should come out publicly and state he is going to take care of it. Either way, my money is on him never reaching the finals again. Someone will smack him in the mouth (and should) and he will fold. Have seen it so many times. Classless. If he were my kid, I'd be embarrassed.
ban basketball (1) about 2 weeks ago
I'm just curious what you've seen him do that has enraged you so much. I'm curious, as I watched him rassle many matches this season and I never saw anything even hinting at what you're implying.

Is it the flexing? That's about all that I saw that MAY be objectionable, but what rassler doesn't flex?
GoBlue150 (1) about 2 weeks ago
By the way, oricale, you are an a-hole for defending this loser. Bet you couldn't fight your way out of a wet paper bag!
Oricalde21 (1) a week and a half ago
You couldn’t beat your dick with both hands. You’re a pathetic clown, you seriously just called a National Champion a loser, way to project there “champ”.