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