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Nickal, Kerkvliet earn Schalles & Junior Schalles Awards as top college & high school pinners
Once upon a time, Wade Schalles of Clarion (Pa.) University dominated college wrestling; not just from winning two NCAA championships in 1972 and ’73, but also took delight in pinning 109 victims in 153 of his career victories. That led WIN Magazine and Schalles to creating both the Schalles and Junior Schalles Awards, which are presented annually to the nation’s top college and high school wrestlers.
With that in mind, Penn State’s three-time NCAA champion Bo Nickal and Greg Kerkvliet of Simley High School in Minnesota were named the latest winners of these two awards.
Nickal, who also was named the Dan Hodge Trophy winner this spring, pinned 18 of his 30 victims in an undefeated senior season at 197 pounds … after winning his two previous NCAA titles at 184 pounds. That included 2018 when the native of Allen, Texas, also earned the Schalles Award.
“An awesome part about wrestling is the amount of great wrestlers in this sport and Wade Schalles was definitely one of them and someone who was legendary and iconic in the sport,” Nickal said. “I never got a chance to watch him wrestle but from the stories I’ve heard from a lot of different people, I think we have similar mindsets in the way we look at the sport.”
Kerkvliet, who will wrestle at Ohio State in the future, captured a fourth NCAA title in 2018-19; a season that was delayed until January after the heavyweight overcame a knee injury that he suffered in August while training at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. Once he was ready to wrestle, Kerkvliet pinned 21 of 24 foes — the other bouts ended in two forfeits and one technical fall — and spent less that 15 minutes on the mat this winter as 17 of his 21 falls came in the first period.
“That’s what the Junior Schalles Award is about, shortening matches,” said Schalles. “Greg is very rare in many aspects of athletics. He’s the type of wrestler that’s big enough, and talented enough, to excel in the NFL. He’s smart enough to do the Ivy’s, but instead he prefers to be a pinner, not someone who just pins.”
Feature stories on Nickal and Kerkvliet can be found in the latest issue of WIN Magazine.
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