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

2016Zain RetherfordPenn State
2015Taylor WalshIndiana
2014Taylor WalshIndiana
2013Kyle DakeCornell
2012Jordan OliverOklahoma State
2011Andrew AltonPenn State
2010Jayson NessMinnesota
2009Josh PattersonBinghamton
2008Darrion CaldwellNorth Carolina State
2007Ben AskrenMissouri
2006Ben AskrenMissouri
2005Marcus LeVesseurAugsburg College
2004Scott MooreVirginia
2003Scott MoorePenn State
2002Cael SandersonIowa State
2001Matt Petsinger & Jared FrayerMSU-Mankato & Oklahoma
2000Keith BlaskeFt. Hays State (Kansas)
1999Stephen NealCal-State Bakersfield







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