NCAA & NAIA Wrestling Championships 2017
DIVISION I —PENN STATE WINS SIXTH TEAM TITLE IN SEVEN YEARS.
With the announcement the day before the tournament began that Penn State’s outstanding freshman Nick Suriano, at 125, would not compete due to injury, it was assumed by many fans the team race would be tight between Penn State, Ohio State, and Oklahoma State. However, the Penn State wrestlers exceeded all expectations and removed all doubt by winning 35 of their 41 matches and scoring bonus points in 21 of them (32.5 total bonus points), and were assured of the team championship before the finals. During the finals the Nittany Lions won all five of their championship matches, and pulled away from second place Ohio State 146.5 to 110. Only two other schools have crowned five champions in tournament history: Iowa (1986 and 1997) and Oklahoma State (2005). The Lions are the first to win five with all underclassmen. In winning their sixth team championship in seven years, the Lions also won the 11th straight team title for the Big 10 Conference. Dynasty at Happy Valley? It is clear that Coach Cael Sanderson has built the Penn State Nittany Lions into a dominant wrestling dynasty comparable with Coach Dan Gable’s Iowa Hawkeye teams of the 1980’s and 1990’s. Penn State’s seventh team championship ties them with Oklahoma for team titles, with Iowa State’s eight titles within striking distance.
By: Mike Johnson
DIVISION I Outstanding Wrestler Award
After defeating Missouri’s Lavion Mayes by tech fall to defend his national championship at 149 pounds on Saturday night, Penn State’s Zain Retherford added more hardware to his trophy case at the end of the night by being named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler and 2016-17’s Most Dominant Wrestler of the NCAA season. Retherford won the tournament’s Most Outstanding honor with dominant performances throughout the weekend in St. Louis, earning four technical falls and one pin on his way to a second straight national title. Those wins helped him maintain his 63-match winning streak (28-0 this season), currently the longest in the nation, which was more than enough to earn Most Dominant honors.
DIVISION I coach of the year
Due in large part to one of his program’s best weekends of competition, Head Coach Brian Smith was named National Coach of the Year by his peers at the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) following the conclusion of the NCAA Division I National Wrestling Championships. It’s the second national coaching award of Smith’s career, following his 2007 Dan Gable Award.
Smith just completed his 19th season at the helm of the Tigers, and Saturday evening capped one of the best tournaments in #TigerStyle history. Mizzou finished in fifth place as a team with 86.5 points, its third-highest finish in program history (3rd in 2007, 4th in 2015). In addition, Mizzou had five All-Americans, which tied the 2009, 2013 and 2015 teams as the most in school history. Senior 197-pounder J’den Cox (Columbia, Mo.) won his third national title, and was one of three finalists Saturday evening. That marked the first time the Tigers were represented more than once in the sixth and final session.
DIVISION II — notre dame college dominates division ii national championship
The Notre Dame College wrestling team won the 2016-17 NCAA Division II Wrestling National Championship as three individuals won titles. NDC won the event with a team score of 103.5 as St. Cloud State finished second with a score of 67. The Falcons continued their domination from day one as the team went 5-0 in the semifinals to be represented in half of the individual championship matches. This is the fourth national title for the NDC wrestling program in the last eight years and the second NCAA Division II National Championship in the last four years. The Falcons previously won two NAIA Championships in the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons and won their first NCAA title in the 2013-14 season.
DIVISION II OUTSTANDING WRESTLER AWARD
Senior DeAndre’ Johnson (Beaufort, S.C.) picked up the Limestone College wrestling team’s second ever National Championship with a 14-5 major decision victory in the finals of the 157 pound bracket. With that win he secured the vote for the Division II Outstanding Wrestler Award for the 2017 season.\
DIVISION II COACH OF THE YEAR
Lennie Zalesky was crowned the NCAA Division II Coach of the Year after leading California Baptist University to a third-place finish at the D-II Championships on Saturday. Seven Lancers qualified for nationals, which was a program-high at CBU, and three came away as top-four All-Americans. It helped lift the Lancers for their No. 6 ranking to third place overall in Division II, which led to Zalesky receiving the Coach of the Year award at the end of the meet. CBU also won the D-II Super Region IV Championship for the first time and took second at the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Championships after going 9-8 in dual competition this season.
DIVISION III — Wartburg’s 2017 title marks its 13th in program history, an NCAA record.
The top-ranked Wartburg wrestling team made NCAA Division III history with its 13th National Championship. The Knights tallied 129.5 points to stand atop the team leaderboard. This broke the tie between the Orange and Black and Augsburg as each school previously had 12 wrestling National Titles prior to this weekend.
DIVISION III OUTSTANDING WRESTLER AWARD
Senior Riley Lefever repeated as the Outstanding Wrestler honoree after winning the award in 2016. He captured his fourth consecutive national title, winning the 197-pound weight class at the 2017 NCAA DIII Wrestling National Championship Tournament in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Lefever won three titles at 184 pounds in 2014, 2015, and 2016. He joined Augsburg’s Marcus LeVesseur as the only NCAA Division III wrestlers to capture four national titles. LeVesseur won tournament titles in 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2007. Lefever became the 11th wrestler overall at any division in NCAA history to win four titles.
Lefever finished his career 129-0 in matches versus DIII opponents. In addition to the national championship, he was named the 2017 NCAA DIII Most Dominant Wrestler by averaging 5.79 points per match over the course of the season. He also earned the National Wrestling Coaches Association Most Outstanding Wrestler of the Meet Award for his performance at the 2017 championship event.
Lefever dominated Division III wrestling over his four seasons of competition. In his 129 victories, 73 came by pin in addition to 18 technical fall wins. He captured his fourth national title with a second-period pin — one of three pins in his four victories at the championship event. An excellent student as well as a talented wrestler, Lefever was named to the prestigious Academic All-America Team as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America in 2016. He was named to the National Wrestling Coaches Association Scholar All-America Team in 2017 for third time in his career. He also serves as the head resident assistant at Wabash.
DIVISION III COACH OF THE YEAR
In 20 years, Johnson & Wales has gone from four wrestlers to the fourth best team in the nation. Because of their team effort, Lonnie Morris and Brian “B.A.” Allen were chosen Head Coach of the Year and Assistant Coach of the Year, respectively. After a 23-1 regular season, Johnson & Wales sent an unprecedented five wrestlers to the nationals. All five Wildcats became All-Americans, including 165-pound senior Stephen Jarrell of East Greenwich, RI, and 133-pound sophomore Jay Albis of Fishkill, New York, who became the program’s second and third national runners-up in program history. 125-pound Bobby Jordan, 174-pound senior Mike Labell and 133-pounder Joe Ferinde all made the All-American podium, culminating the Wildcats’ best season in history.
NAIA — Grand View Wins Sixth-Straight National Title
Grand View (Iowa) rewrote the record book by winning its sixth-straight team title and set a new scoring record of 234.5 points in the final session of the 2017 NAIA Wrestling National Championships, presented by USA Wrestling-Kansas. The 60th annual event took place at the Kansas Expocentre for the fourth-straight season.
NAIA COACH OF THE YEAR
Lindsey Wilson College Wrestling head coach Corey Ruff has been named the 2017 NWCA NAIA Wrestling National Coach of the Year. Ruff led to the Blue Raiders to a national runner-up finish at the 2017 NAIA National Championships, the highest team placement in program history. Lindsey Wilson racked up 74.5 total team points, second to only Grand View (Iowa), who captured the program’s sixth-consecutive team national title in 2017 with 234.5 points.
It is Ruff’s first National Coach of the Year honor.