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Schalles winner Hendrickson took on lighter wrestler’s mentality to lead college wrestling in pins
Photo: Wyatt Hendrickson’s 18th fall of a 26-2 season came at the 2022 NCAAs where he used a front headlock to take down and pin Michael McIlreavy of The Citadel.
Note: This is the first part of the full-length feature on Wyatt Hendrickson, college wrestling’s top pinner in 2021-22 who has been announced as WIN’s Schalles Award winner. Click on the subscription link or call 888.305.0606 to get an annual 12-month subscription to WIN started either print or digitally with the May issue to read the remainder of the article on how Hendrickson got to be a pinner and the mindset that goes into consistently pinning some of the top guys in the country.
By Mike Finn
Wyatt Hendrickson may be an NCAA Division I wrestler for the Air Force Academy, but he takes on a smaller-athlete mentality when it comes to pinning his opponents.
“A lot of the heavyweights don’t wrestle like lighter guys,” said the junior from Newton, Kan. “What I found to be successful this year has been the cradle. When big guys stand up, no one ever cradles them. But I see the cradle and I go for it. That’s probably how half of my pins happened this year.”
While compiling a 26-2 record this past winter, the 240-pound Falcon flattened 18 of his victims; the most by any Division I wrestler. Hendrickson has been named the winner of the 2022 Schalles Award.
“I can’t think of many wrestlers I admire more than Wyatt Hendrickson,” said Schalles, the namesake of the award and who is America’s greatest pinner after pinning 109 foes between 1970-74 when he also won two NCAA championship for Clarion. Schalles sees a similar mindset in Hendrickson.
Of his 18 pins this winter, 13 occurred in the first period.
“I was dominant in most of those matches,” said the 6-foot-2 Hendrickson. “Most of the time, if I saw the opportunity, I didn’t wait.”