The 2022 college wrestling national championships are over … but the great...
Looking back at 20 years with the Dan Hodge Trophy Winners
When David Taylor won the 2014 WIN Magazine/C.H. Dan Hodge Trophy presented by ASICS, it marked the second time the Nittany Lion won the award — named after the former three-time NCAA champion from Oklahoma — now in its 20th year.
Click here for story about Taylor winning the 2014 Hodge Trophy.
The following is look back at the history of this prestigious award — called the Heisman Trophy of Wrestling — that was created by WIN founder Mike Chapman in 1995.
1995 — T.J. Jaworsky, North Carolina
Jaworsky closed the season 38-0. He did lose one match in overtime to Cary Kolat in the finals of the Midlands, but neither North Carolina nor the NCAA counted that match as Kolat was competing for a club (Foxcatcher) and not a college team. En route to his third title at 134 pounds, Jaworsky didn’t have a close match all season other than with Kolat. He defeated Oregon State’s tough and talented Babak Mohammadi in the finals of the NCAAs, 13-6. In his 38 matches, all but seven of his victories came by fall, technical fall or major decision.
1996 — Les Gutches, Oregon State
Les was a four-year letterman who was considered the best OSU wrestler in modern history. He compiled a record of 134-10 and was named Outstanding Wrestler at the NCAA Championships as a senior when he finished 36-0. He was also named Outstanding Wrestler at the U.S. Nationals in 1996. He won two NCAA titles at 177 and was a three-time Academic All-American.
1997 — Kerry McCoy, Penn State
McCoy accumulated an impressive 150-18 overall record and won NCAA heavyweight championships in 1994 and 1997, when he finished 41-0 with 11 pins. McCoy also won three Big Ten titles and won 131 of his last 132 matches at Penn State, including an 88-match winning streak. A three-time All-American, McCoy was named the Penn State Athlete of the Year and the Nittany Lions’ Wrestler of the Year in 1994 and 1997.
1998 — Mark Ironside, Iowa
The Hawkeye senior and a two-time NCAA champion at 134 pounds won his final 67 collegiate bouts, including 35 as a senior when he also pinned 14 in an unbeaten season. In a career that included 127 wins and just 10 losses — including a 100-2 record the final three seasons at Iowa — Ironside collected 84 bonus-poing wins, including 38 by pin and 34 majors.
1999 — Stephen Neal, Cal State Bakersfield
Neal, a San Diego native, completed his career at CSUB as a four-time All-American and a two-time undefeated NCAA Division I champion. The heavyweight, who later won a World championship and played football for the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots finished with a 153-9 career record with 71 pins. As a senior, he went 44-0 with 31 pins.
2000 — Cael Sanderson, Iowa State
The current Penn State coach was the first collegiate wrestler to win four national championships and go through a career undefeated (159-0). That included going 40-0 with 11 pins as a sophomore … when he eventually defeated Vertus Jones of West Virginia for the 184-pound championship.
2001 — Cael Sanderson, Iowa State, and Nick Ackerman, Simpson College
While Sanderson was finishing his third year with a championship over Daniel Cormier of Oklahoma State, a 40-0 record and 19 pins, Ackerman caught the nation’s attention as the Division III wrestler, who was inflicted with spinal meningitis as a young boy and saw both legs amputated below the knees to save his life, won the 174-pound championship in Waterloo, Iowa. He finished 38-4 as a senior to complete a 95-51 career.
2002 — Cael Sanderson, Iowa State
As in the past three seasons, Sanderson continued to roll up record-setting numbers during his senior campaign … after moving up to 197 pounds. He recorded his third straight season of 40 wins. And amazingly, only four of Sanderson’s matches this year went the entire seven minutes — three of those were against Lehigh’s Jon Trenge, who Sanderson beat 12-4 in the NCAA finals. The fourth bout was an 18-7 major decision over Ohio State’s Nick Preston in the semis. Of the other 36 bouts, Sanderson pinned 23 opponents, the most falls he had in his four years at Iowa State.
2003 — Eric Larkin, Arizona State
Larkin not only won the NCAA championship at 149 pounds before a packed crowd of 16,436 fans at Kansas City’s Kemper Arena, but he knocked off defending champion Jared Lawrence of Minnesota in the finals to win his national title. With this impressive national tournament performance and a dominant 35-0 season, Larkin scored bonus points in 20 of his victories this season. He recorded 11 falls, two technical falls and seven major decisions.
2004 — Emmett Willson, Montana State Northern
For the first time in the ten-year history of the award, an NAIA wrestler claimed the sport’s most prestigious prize. Willson won his third straight NAIA title at 197 and recorded a whopping 50-0 record with 24 pins in the 2003-2004 season. Willson also won three top-level national events: the Las Vegas Invitational, the Midlands Championships and the All-Star Classic. In the process, Willson downed the Division I wrestlers who finished third, fourth, sixth and seventh as well as four other Division I qualifiers. He also placed ahead of national champion Damion Hahn at Vegas and runner-up Ryan Fulsaas at the Midlands.
2005 — Steve Mocco, Oklahoma State
Steve Mocco finished a perfect 37-0 season at the NCAA Championships in St. Louis, Mo. with his second national title. The Cowboy junior, who won his first national title with Iowa before transferring to OSU, rolled up 17 pins this year, an incredible 16 of them in the first period. Mocco eventually finished his career with four All-American honors — claiming second in 2002 and ’06 — with a 137-6 record and 56 falls.
2006 — Ben Askren, Missouri
The 174 pounder, who settled for second place in 2004 and ’05 — finished his junior season 45-0 with an impressive 25 pins and his school’s first NCAA championship. Of the other 20 wins, Askren had nine technical falls, five majors, an injury default and a forfeit, leaving only four bouts in which he failed to score bonus points. His final win this season was a 14-2 major decision against previously unbeaten Jake Herbert of Northwestern.
2007 — Ben Askren, Missouri
The native of Hartland, Wisc., ended his career with a second championship; beating Pitt’s Keith Gavin, 8-2, in the finals. The second multiple-time Hodge winner won all 42 matches as a senior and pinned 29 foes. For his career, the Tiger recorded a 153-8 mark with 91 pins.
2008 — Brent Metcalf, Iowa
The sophomore from Davison, Mich., posted a season record of 39-1, which included 12 pins, seven tech falls and nine major decisions. Seventy percent (28) of his victories were by pin, tech fall or major. This was Metcalf’s first year of competition at the college level, as he was forced to miss the 2007 season after transferring from Virginia Tech when Tom Brands accepted the head job at Iowa in the spring of 2006.
2009 — Jake Herbert, Northwestern
On March 21 of this year in St. Louis, Mo., Herbert defeated the defending NCAA champion, Mike Pucillo of Ohio State, to claim his second title at 184 pounds. Herbert finished the season 34-0 and did not surrender a takedown all year. Along the way, he scored 15 pins, four technical falls and nine major decisions. A native of Wexford, Pa., Herbert had an amazing 149-4 career record, winning his last 66 matches in a row. His winning percentage of .973 is the highest in Northwestern history. He is second on the all-time Northwestern wins list behind Jack Griffin, who was 156-21-1 (percentage of .879).
2010 — Jayson Ness, Minnesota
Ness, a four-time All-American, capped off a career with a championship at 133 pounds after previous finishes of fifth (2007), second (2008) and third (2009) at the NCAAs. He was at 125 his first two seasons. Ness pinned 19 of 31 opponents for a stingy pinning percentage of 61 percent, including 13 of his first 14 opponents. Sixteen of the 19 pins came in the first period for the Bloomington, Minnesota native.
2011 — Jordan Burroughs, Nebraska
Burroughs compiled a 36-0 record this season and captured his second NCAA crown (he won at 157 in 2009) with an 11-3 triumph in the finals over Tyler Caldwell of Oklahoma. The Nebraska senior won all four of his tournament matches by major decision and also received an injury default in the second round. Burroughs only had three matches this season that didn’t end by pin, tech fall or a major decision. One of them was a 10-7 victory over Wisconsin’s defending NCAA champion Andrew Howe at the Midlands. He also piled up more than two minutes of riding time over Howe.
2012 — David Taylor, Penn State
Taylor’s trail of domination through the 165-pound weight class ended on March 17 in St. Louis, Mo., with his first NCAA title. He put on an offensive show in the finals with a 22-7 technical fall over Brandon Hatchett of Lehigh. Leading up to the finals, Taylor reeled off four straight pins to cap off one of the most dominating collegiate seasons of all time. In building his 32-0 record on the year, the Ohio native pinned 15 opponents, had nine tech falls and had six majors.
2013 — Kyle Dake, Cornell
Dake’s dominant senior season included 18 pins in his 37-0 campaign. He was unscored upon in his four NCAA tournament matches leading up to the finals, when he edged 2012 Hodge Trophy winner David Taylor of Penn State, 5-4. The native of Ithaca, N.Y., became just the third wrestler to win four national championships and the first to do so at our different weight classes.
2014 — David Taylor, Penn State
Taylor’s senior season numbers were outstanding. The undefeated Nittany Lion saw only two of 34 matches end without seeing him win bonus points. Taylor pinned 16 opponents, put up eight technical falls and had eight major decisions. Only NCAA runner-up Tyler Caldwell of Oklahoma State kept a match within seven points of Taylor, once in February (5-2) in the teams’ dual in State College and in the NCAA finals (6-0).