Jordan Oliver named Schalles Award winner

Takedown artist learned to become a better pinner at Oklahoma State

By Mike Finn

The way Jordan Oliver sees it, learning to become the nation’s best college pinner was a normal transition to what he’s learned about the sport. He won three Pennsylvania state championships at Easton High School before adding three All-American honors at Oklahoma State.

Among Jordan Oliver's first period pin victims this season was Nathan McCormick of Missouri. (

“When I first came to college, I was just good on my feet; that was the same thing I heard in high school,” recalled Oliver, who compiled a 175-5 career prep record before coming to Stillwater, Okla. “Getting comfortable on the mat was something I had to establish in my wrestling if I wanted to be the best wrestler.”

And while Oliver may not have repeated as the nation’s best wrestler at 133 pounds — losing a controversial 4-3 decision to Ohio State’s Logan Stieber in the NCAA finals — he had a great season. After winning the 2011 NCAA title in Philadelphia, Oliver’s attempt at improving his style resulted in flattening 18 out of 28 victims this winter.

For a stingy junior campaign at the always-tough 133-pound class, Oliver is WIN Magazine’s 2012 Schalles Award winner. The award is presented annually to the nation’s best college pinner by Cliff Keen Athletic and the National Wrestling Coaches Association.

Oliver becomes the 14th all-time college wrestler to receive the award named after Wade Schalles. Schalles set the college pin record at Clarion (Pa.) State where he also won two NCAA championships (1972-73). During his career, Schalles defeated 153 of 159 opponents and pinned 109.

Even though it has been nearly 40 years since Schalles wrestled in college, Oliver is familiar about the facts and folklore of Schalles while growing up in Pennsylvania.

“I learned about him,” said Oliver. “I’ve watched matches on and stuff like that. I love to watch great wrestlers who were before my time. I knew he was pinner who used to put an X on the mat and pin the guy on that spot.”

“Jordan is a great talent, everyone in wrestling knows that,” said WIN publisher Bryan Van Kley. “However, what’s most notable about his junior campaign at OSU is his marked turnaround as a pinner. To go from 11 pins as a sophomore when he was the 2011 Hodge Trophy runner-up to stepping it up this year, because he wanted to win the Hodge, is impressive.”

“He’s a winner, he’s a pinner and a fellow Pennsylvanian. Adding the name of Jordan Oliver to the list of Schalles Award winners is an honor for me,” Schalles said. “If he continues the trend he’s developed the previous three years he has a shot of eclipsing John Smith’s record of 60 career falls.”

Oliver, who has 36 career falls after three years, admitted the Hodge Trophy was one of his priorities this past season.

“Another goal for me this year was to go for the Hodge and it’s dominance that wins you the Hodge,” said Oliver, who pinned his first ten opponents this past winter; nine in the first period. “It was something I looked forward to doing and accomplishing, getting bonus points in nearly every match.

“In every match, I looked at how I could get the pin.”

Oliver believes he came to the perfect college to become a pinner because of his head coach John Smith.

“There were a lot of moves that I would do in practice but I didn’t feel comfortable doing them in competition because it didn’t feel right,” Oliver said. “In going over the technique with Coach Smith, it’s given me confidence. He taught me little small things.

“A lot of the stuff that I’m doing, I’ve done my whole life, but (Coach Smith) put the finishing touches to. It’s amazing what the guy knows, like keeping hip pressure. It’s such a difference to where he tells you your hips should be to where I used to put them. It’s made the biggest difference in the world.”

And considering most people used to consider Oliver a takedown artist, he likes the idea that many of his pins come from riding his opponents.

“As the matches starts materializing and if I start piling on points, they start forgetting about getting pinned,” said Oliver, adding that he has learned to force his will on those who may be looking for a certain move.

“Sometimes, I catch them in the position that I want that leads to falls. Sometimes, they make me go to a different position. For example, in my crossface cradle, I’ve got it to where I can add a leg turk with certain pressure on them. The pressure I keep on them is real important.

“I may be looking for a 2-on-1 tilt and I’m already thinking about what I’m going to do after that; either a cross-body ride to a tilt or looking for another pinning combination. It’s my form or chain wrestling.”

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