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By Rob Sherrill, WIN’s High School Editor
It’s double duty for WIN these days. In addition to narrowing down the list for the Dan Hodge Trophy winner, the magazine and the AAU also have a Junior Hodge Trophy winner to select.
It’s never easy to narrow down the list to a select few. But narrow we must, and we’ve managed to identify this year’s Super Six: a half-dozen wrestlers with great resumes who should be stars at the college and/or international level. All six are headed to the Big Ten for their collegiate careers, with the University of Michigan laying claim to two of the finalists last November. Here are the leaders in the locker room.
Zain Retherford, 138, Benton (Pa.)
The Penn State University recruit rose from a non-existent junior season to post a spectacular senior season. After finishing second and third as a freshman and sophomore at Herndon Line Mountain High School, Retherford was forced to sit out his junior season after state association officials ruled the transfer was made for athletic reasons. All Retherford did to redeem himself: go 47-0 in a season that started with victories in the Super 32 and the Walsh Ironman and ended with two first-period pins and two 5-0 decisions in the Class AA state tournament.
Ben Whitford, 145, St. Johns (Mich.)
After dominating Illinois mats for two years at Aurora Marmion Academy, winning a pair of Class 2A state titles, Whitford returned to his hometown school for his final two seasons and fit right into a Redbirds line-up which featured one star after another. Two additional titles in Division 2 gave the University of Michigan signee four for his career. Whitford, who had just one loss in his career, finished 37-0 this season and followed up a first-period pin at the state tournament with a forfeit win and two technical falls.
Jake Short, 152, Inver Grove Heights (Minn.) Simley
After winning the Minnesota State Christmas Tournament at 145 in December, Short settled in at 152 the rest of the season and won his fourth Class AA state title. The University of Minnesota recruit staked his claim to the No. 1 spot at the weight when he won the Cheesehead Tournament at Kaukauna, Wisc., in January, scoring an ultimate tie-breaker win over Brian Murphy of Carol Stream (Ill.) Glenbard North in the most anticipated match of the finals. He only needed 69 seconds to end his state final match, capping a 48-0 season.
Bo Jordan, 160, St. Paris (Ohio) Graham
Dominant is the only way to describe Jordan throughout his career, and particularly as a senior. A four-time Division 2 state champion and a two-time Outstanding Wrestler award winner, the Ohio State University signee didn’t have a state tournament match go the distance his final three years. Nine of his 12 state tournament wins during that stretch were pins, including all three state final matches. But Jordan’s biggest claim to award consideration might be a match that went the full six minutes – a 4-2 victory over fellow finalist Isaiah Martinez in the Walsh Ironman final, whetting appetites for some future Big Ten battles.
Isaiah Martinez, 160, Lemoore (Calif.)
Normally, we’d consider Martinez already eliminated from consideration, but facts are facts: Even though he’s at the same weight class as Jordan, he’s clearly worthy of Final Five consideration. Voted the Outstanding Wrestler in the California state tournament after winning his third state title, he scored a pin in the finals, his second of the tournament. He also had a technical fall and two major decisions. The University of Illinois recruit became the 17th three-time state champion in California history and the 29th four-time placewinner; he finished third as a freshman.
Adam Coon, Hwt, Fowlerville (Mich.)
St. Johns wasn’t the only Michigan school where college coaches basically set up shop. Division 2 was truly the cavalcade of stars in Michigan this year, as Coon completed a dominating four-year state championship run with his second heavyweight title after winning at 215 his freshman and sophomore years. Coon finished 55-0 and pinned all four state tournament opponents in the first period, needing a total of just four minutes, 52 seconds to finish the job. He was 161-0 his final seasons.