Zain Retherford named 2016 Schalles Award winner

NEWTON, Iowa — Taking a year off from competing after earning All-American honors as a true freshman in 2013-14, Penn State’s Zain Retherford impressively returned this past winter when the 149-pound Nittany Lion won an NCAA championship in New York City in March.

Zain Retherford

Zain Retherford

The redshirt sophomore from Benton, Pa., also drastically improved his pinning ability to record 15 falls this past winter … and has been named WIN’s 2016 Schalles Award, which is presented to the nation’s top college pinner by Cliff Keen Athletic.

The Schalles Award is named after Wade Schalles, the former NCAA champion from Clarion, who pinned 109 foes in the early 1970s.

Zain Retherford pinned 15 foes in an undefeated 34-0 redshirt sophomore season, including three while winning the 2016 NCAAs at 149 pounds.

Zain Retherford pinned 15 foes in an undefeated 34-0 redshirt sophomore season, including three while winning the 2016 NCAAs at 149 pounds.

“Zain is as pure a pinner as we’ve seen in decades,” said Schalles. “It’s also important to note how many bonus points he scored in matches that didn’t end in a pin.”

Retherford, who also tallied seven technical falls and seven major decision in going undefeated (34-0) this past year, believes the year off from competing on the varsity level, helped make him a better pinner.

“I have a great coaching staff, especially Coach (Casey) Cunningham, who showed me how I could be tough on top and still get pins,” Retherford said. “Coach Cunningham was a legs specialist, pretty much like me. He convinced me I might as well turn guys if I’m going to ride them … and look for the pin.

“I’m not afraid to try something in practice, where we have a competitive group. If I can it it on them, I believe I can hit it on anyone I think.”

“Zain was obviously very good coming into college on top but has been willing to learn and grow from a lot of people around him to become the beast he is today,” said Cunningham.  “His relentless pursuit on his feet does not give you a second to breath and then pair that with the pinning combinations he has put together on top and you have a very dangerous/intimidating wrestler.  Zain is one of a kind.”

A more detailed story of this announcement can be found in the latest issue of WIN, which was printed May 27. To subscribe to WIN, call 888-303-0606 or go to


Wade Schalles

Wade Schalles






All-Time Schalles Award Winners

Year Name School
2016 Zain Retherford Penn State
2015 Taylor Walsh Indiana
2014 Taylor Walsh Indiana
2013 Kyle Dake Cornell
2012 Jordan Oliver Oklahoma State
2011 Andrew Alton Penn State
2010 Jayson Ness Minnesota
2009 Josh Patterson Binghamton
2008 Darrion Caldwell North Carolina State
2007 Ben Askren Missouri
2006 Ben Askren Missouri
2005 Marcus LeVesseur Augsburg College
2004 Scott Moore Virginia
2003 Scott Moore Penn State
2002 Cael Sanderson Iowa State
2001 Matt Petsinger & Jared Frayer MSU-Mankato & Oklahoma
2000 Keith Blaske Ft. Hays State (Kansas)
1999 Stephen Neal Cal-State Bakersfield







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