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T.J. Jaworsky – First Hodge Trophy Winner (1995)

First Hodge Trophy goes to T.J.
(Originally published March 25, 1995)
By Mike Chapman, W.I.N. Founder
When the Wrestling Institute Magazine was born on November 15, 1994, we were delighted to announce we would present a very, very special trophy at the end of the collegiate wrestling season.

T.J. Jaworsky

We decided to name the award aftera man who exploits have been legendary for decades. Dan Hodge came out of the Oklahoma plains to win NCAA titles at 177 pounds in 1955, ‘56 and ‘57 and boost the sport’s image with his non-stop, physically-dominating style of wrestling.

Hodge once scored 22 consecutive pins and is the only wrestler to ever appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated, the nation’s premier sports publication.

The WIN staff determined the winner of the Hodge Trophy must be an athlete who competed in the same fashion as the great Sooner, a man who brought respect and dignity to the sport of wrestling through his non-stop pursuit of excellence.

We started out the season with nearly a dozen strong candidates but by the last issue there were only five left.

Startling upsets in the NCAA tournament eliminated three of the candidates: Lincoln

McIlravy and Joel Sharratt of Iowa and Kerry McCoy of Penn State.

When the dust settled, only T.J. Jaworsky of North Carolina and Les Gutches of Oregon State remained in the running.

Both are magnificent athletes. Gutches finished the season unbeaten at 33-0. He didn’t surrender a single takedown or reversal all season. His only really close match came in the semifinals of the NCAAs, where Iowa’s Ray Brinzer took him to the wire before losing 4-2.

Jaworsky closed the season 38-0. He did lose one match in overtime to Cary Kolat it 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.

It’s a tough call because both Gutches and Jaworsky are worthy winners of the Hodge Trophy. In the final analysis, the determining factors were twofold: Hodge was one of the greatest pinners of all time and the W.I.N. staff wanted pinning to play a large role in the selection process.

Jaworsky scored 24 pins this season. From what we could tell, that was the highest number of pins this season and perhaps the highest number of pins for any Division I collegian in several seasons.

Secondly, a West coast coach had this to say:

“Both men are great champions on and off the mat, but I would give the edge to Jaworsky because of how hard it is to win three NCAA titles. You become a marked man. Lincoln McIlravy can tell you about that. And despite being a marked man, Jaworsky came through with flying colors.”

So, the winner of the very first Dan Hodge Trophy is T.J. Jaworsky of North Carolina.

“He’s just a tremendous individual,” said UNC coach Bill Lam. “He transferred here from Oklahoma State and has had a great attitude. He’s done everything we’ve asked of him and is very coachable. He’s been a real asset to our entire athletic program.”

Lam said Jaworsky will stay on at North Carolina as an assistant coach next year and is in the process of deciding whether or not to stay with wrestling or move into coaching full-time.

The following is a breakdown of T.J. Jaworsky’s career numbers:

Season School Year of Eligibilty Bouts W L T Falls W Pct. All-American Weight
1992 Oklahoma State Freshman 20 14 5 1 8 72.5 DNP 134
1993 North Carolina Sophomore 40 39 1 0 13 97.5 1st 134
1994 North Carolina Junior 37 33 4 0 13 89.9 1st 134
1995 North Carolina Senior 38 38 0 0 24 100.0 1st 134
Career 135 124 10 1 58 92.2 3 times
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