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InterMat's 2021-22 DI Collegiate Year-End Awards

Little Caesars Arena for the 2022 NCAA Champioships (Photo courtesy of Sam Janick; SJanickiPhoto.com)


Welcome to InterMat's 2021-22 DI Collegiate Year-End Awards! We have consulted with our conference correspondents along with the esteemed members of our "MatScouts Dynasty Fantasy Wrestling League" to honor the best of the 2021-22 season.

Each conference has a Coach and Wrestler of the year, along with a rookie of the year. In a normal era, this would be the Freshman of the Year; however, with different interpretations of eligibility due to an extra year from the "Covid Year," we have tinkered with the award. If possible, we've tried to honor freshmen in the normal sense of the term; however, if none stood out significantly, we did note some wrestlers that competed in 2020-21.

In addition to the conference awards, there are some other special honors across the board. If voting was not unanimous, there were "also receiving votes" mentioned along with the winners.


ACC Honors

2022 NCAA runner-up Mekhi Lewis (Photo courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com)

ACC Coach of the Year: Pat Popolizio (NC State)

ACC Wrestler of the Year: Mekhi Lewis (Virginia Tech)

Also receiving votes: Kizhan Clarke (North Carolina)

ACC Rookie of the Year: Ed Scott (NC State)

Also receiving votes: Gavin Kane (North Carolina), Ryan Jack (NC State)


Big Ten Honors

2x NCAA Champion Gable Steveson (Photo courtesy of Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)

Big Ten Coach of the Year: Sean Bormet (Michigan)

Also receiving votes: Cael Sanderson (Penn State), Matt Storniolo (Northwestern)

Big Ten Wrestler of the Year: Gable Steveson (Minnesota)

Big Ten Rookie of the Year: Dean Hamiti (Wisconsin)

Big 12 Honors

2022 InterMat Big 12 Coach of the Year Brian Smith (left) and Kendric Maple (Photo courtesy of Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)

Big 12 Coach of the Year: Brian Smith (Missouri)

Big 12 Wrestler of the Year: Keegan O'Toole (Missouri)

Big 12 Rookie of the Year: Willie McDougald (Oklahoma)


EIWA Honors

3x NCAA Champion Yianni Diakomihalis (Photo courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com)

EIWA Coach of the Year: Chris Ayres (Princeton)

Also receiving votes: Roger Reina (Penn)

EIWA Wrestler of the Year: Yianni Diakomihalis (Cornell)

Also receiving votes: Jordan Wood (Lehigh)

EIWA Rookie of the Year: CJ Composto (Penn)

MAC Honors

2022 InterMat MAC Rookie of the Year Anthony Noto (Photo courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com)

MAC Coach of the Year: Scott Moore (Lock Haven)

MAC Wrestler of the Year: Matt Stencel (Central Michigan)

MAC Rookie of the Year: Anthony Noto (Lock Haven)


Pac-12 Honors

2022 NCAA runner-up Cohlton Schultz (Photo courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com)


Pac-12 Coach of the Year: Chris Pendleton (Oregon State)

Pac-12 Wrestler of the Year: Cohlton Schultz (Arizona State)

Also receiving votes: Shane Griffith (Stanford)

Pac-12 Rookie of the Year: Trey Munoz (Oregon State)

SoCon Honors

2x NCAA All-American Jonathan Millner (Photo courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com)

SoCon Coach of the Year: JohnMark Bentley (Appalachian State)

SoCon Wrestler of the Year: Jonathan Millner (Appalachian State)

SoCon Rookie of the Year: Heath Gonyer (Appalachian State)

Also receiving votes: Noah Castillo (Chattanooga)


True Freshman of the Year: Dean Hamiti (Wisconsin)

2022 InterMat Freshman of the Year Dean Hamiti (Photo courtesy of Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)

Eligibility made things tough on judging who's a freshman and who isn't, but there was no doubt here. Dean Hamiti was a true freshman from the Class of 2021 that started immediately for the Badgers and won his first 17 collegiate matches and would go on to place sixth at 165 lbs.

Freshman of the Year (Had three years of eligibility remaining after 2021-22): Carter Starocci (Penn State)

2x NCAA Champion Carter Starocci (Photo courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com)

The Penn State 174 lber is still on pace to becoming a five-time NCAA champion after he won his second in Detroit. Starocci went a perfect 23-0 in a weight class that featured plenty of stars, including a past national champion in the NCAA finals.

Also receiving votes: Keegan O'Toole (Missouri)

Sophomore of the Year (Had two years of eligibility remaining after 2021-22): Aaron Brooks (Penn State)

2x NCAA Champion Aaron Brooks (right) (Photo courtesy of Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)

After a slight upset in the Big Ten finals, at the hands of Myles Amine (Michigan), Aaron Brooks bounced back in the NCAA finals to claim his second national title. In three years of collegiate competition, Brooks is 50-2.

Junior of the Year (Has one year of eligibility remaining after 2021-22): Gable Steveson (Minnesota)

2x NCAA Champion and Olympic gold medalist Gable Steveson (Photo courtesy of Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)

Steveson capped off his third straight undefeated season with a second national championship by downing Cohlton Schultz (Arizona State), 6-2. He finished his collegiate career by winning 52-straight matches. Gable also became the first heavyweight to win the Hodge Trophy multiple times.

Also receiving votes: Yianni Diakomihalis (Cornell)

Senior of the Year (Has no eligibility remaining after 2021-22): Ryan Deakin (Northwestern)

2022 NCAA champion Ryan Deakin (Photo courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com)

Ryan Deakin finished his final year of college wrestling in style with an undefeated record and a national title at 157 lbs. Deakin also became only the third Northwestern wrestler to win three Big Ten titles and the school's first national champion since Jason Tsirtsis in 2014. His final career record is 114-15 and he got on the NCAA podium three times and earned All-American honors four times.

Also receiving votes: Nick Lee (Penn State)

Moment of the Year: Gable leaving his shoes

2x NCAA Champion Gable Steveson (Photo courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com)

After winning his second NCAA title, Gable Steveson signified the end of his collegiate career and his move to the WWE by leaving his shoes at the center of the raised mat at Little Caesars Arena.

Also receiving votes: Hayden Hidlay Interview, Gable's final backflip

Dual of the Year: NC State vs Iowa at the Collegiate Duals

Tony Cassioppi (right) and Tyrie Houghton in the final bout of the Iowa/NC State dual (Photo courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com)

This had it all. An upset at 157, controversy at 141, Spencer Lee, good performances by backups, plenty of starpower and a dual decided in the final bout. Iowa prevailed 19-15.

Also receiving votes: Penn State at Iowa

Match of the Year: Jaydin Eierman over Ryan Jack at the College Duals

Jaydin Eierman (top) outlasts Ryan Jack (Photo courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com)

As we alluded to above, there was controversy at 141 lbs in the Iowa/NC State dual as Ryan Jack appeared to have a defensive pin in place on Eierman in the waning seconds of the match. Jack also jumped out to a lead on Eierman, before the Hawkeye rallied for the win.

Also receiving votes: Carter Starocci over Mekhi Lewis in the NCAA Finals, Carter Starocci over Michael Kemerer in the Iowa/Penn State dual

Best Rider: Evan Wick (Cal Poly)

3x NCAA All-American Evan Wick (Photo courtesy of Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)

The four-time All-American, Evan Wick, took home "Best Rider" honors as he was often able to nullify his opponents offensive attacks by wearing them out on the mat and gaining a riding time point. Wick finished in the top-four for the third time in as many tries at the NCAA Tournament this year, when he was third.

Also receiving votes: Aaron Brooks (Penn State)

Best Turner: Sebastian Rivera (Rutgers)

4x NCAA All-American Sebastian Rivera (Photo courtesy of Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)

It's hard to rack up tech falls in about a third of your matches if all you have is takedowns. Sebastian Rivera was a multi-faceted offensive threat, scoring on the mat as well this season. He finished his career as a four-time NCAA All-American and a two-time third-place finisher. Rivera's bonus point percentage in 2021-22 (74%) crushed his previous high total (59%) from 2018-19.

Best Scrambler: Keegan O'Toole (Missouri)

2022 NCAA champion Keegan O'Toole (Photo courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com)

A trendy NCAA champion pick this season, Keegan O'Toole proved his supporters correct by going undefeated and winning a title for the Tigers. O'Toole is best known for his scrambling ability, along with his use of cradles. He did not allow a point in his first four bouts at the NCAA Championships this year. O'Toole finished the year with seven falls and was second in the fan-balloting portion of the Hodge Trophy voting.

Best Neutral: Gable Steveson (Minnesota)

2x NCAA Champion and Olympic gold medalist Gable Steveson (Photo courtesy of Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)

Our crew unanimously voted Gable Steveson as the best wrestler from neutral this year. It's hard to argue against a heavyweight that amassed 113 takedowns and only gave up one during the 2021-22 season.

Most Improved: Yonger Bastida (Iowa State)

2022 InterMat Most Improved Winner Yonger Bastida (Photo courtesy of Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)

In only his second year of folkstyle and collegiate competition Yonger Bastida improved from 4-4 in 2021 to a 25-7 record with a fifth-place finish at his first NCAA Tournament. Bastida also notched wins over two of the four wrestlers that placed above him prior to Detroit.

Also receiving votes: Kizhan Clarke (North Carolina)


Assistant Coach of the Year: Kevin Jackson (Michigan)

2022 InterMat Assistant Coach of the Year Kevin Jackson (Photo courtesy of Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)

This was one of our most hotly contested categories as there were plenty of viable assistant coaching candidates worthy of such an honor. Ultimately, the first Big Ten title in over forty years and an NCAA runner-up finish helped push Michigan assistant Kevin Jackson past the rest of the field. Jackson was in his first year at Michigan after spending the previous four years as USA Wrestling's National Freestyle Developmental coach.

Also receiving votes: Casey Cunningham (Penn State) ,Lee Pritts (Arizona State), Joe Dubuque (Princeton)


Coach of the Year: Sean Bormet (Michigan)

2022 InterMat Coach of the Year Sean Bormet (Photo courtesy of Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)

It's a clean sweep for Michigan taking both "Coach of the Year" awards. Not only did Sean Bormet lead the Wolverines to a second place finish at nationals and win a Big Ten title, but he also oversaw his first NCAA champion in Nick Suriano. It was the first NCAA title for a Michigan wrestler since 2012.

Also receiving votes: Chris Pendleton (Oregon State), Cael Sanderson (Penn State), Matt Storniolo (Northwestern)

Wrestler of the Year: Gable Steveson (Minnesota)

2022 InterMat Wrestler of the Year Gable Steveson (Photo courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com)

What more can we say about Gable Steveson? The Gopher legend earned bonus points in his first 15 contests of the year; only failing to do so in the last three rounds of the NCAA Tournament. Steveson is the first Minnesota wrestler to win three Big Ten crowns and two NCAA titles since Tony Nelson between 2012-14. He finishes his career on a 52-match winning streak.

Comments

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George Totura (1) about 2 months ago
It is bad enough that you recognize Casey Cunningham as Asst Coach of the Year, which he should get ever year. But at least show him excelling at Penn STATE and not Penn.
Yes-Man (1) about 2 months ago
Mizzou's Keegan O'Toole should've gotten an award for defeating 2 opponents in a championship final. Keegan defeated a defending National Champion, & in the same match, defeated the NCAA referees/officials who made a few bad calls against him, including the world's fastest stalemate.
M Smart (1) about 2 months ago
This year was non-stop Steveson, next year will be non-stop Lee. So many great wrestlers to spread it around. Like the B10 Network, why do we see Gable major a guy for the 3rd time. You'd think Iowa won 9 of 12 and TB has a national champ. Not 1?
poliseo (1) about 2 months ago
PSU runs away with the team title with 5 national champs plus a 4th place AA finisher and Sean Bormet is the coach of the year? Nick Lee completes an undefeated season, winning his second national title and Ryan Deakin is senior of the year? Um, this is a bad joke, right?
Gilgamesh (1) about 2 months ago
All well deserved awards with a nod towards the (deservedly so) rabid PSU fan base. Many times in many sports the ability to take top flite talent and move it to transcendent levels of success is neither fully nor properly recognized. This PSU squad deserves all accolades AS DO all the individuals, teams and coaches lauded in this article. Thanks to the entire Intermat staff for the great work all year long!
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