For five months, fans have debated whether Jason Nolf or Bo Nickal would claim Penn State wrestling’s all-time falls record and which of the two was more deserving of the prestigious Hodge Trophy. Although Nolf inched out the program record with 60, compared to Nickal’s 59, the latter is still up for debate. And fans can have their voices heard.
Both Nickal and Nolf were named finalists for this year’s Hodge Trophy, which awarded to the nation's most outstanding collegiate wrestler. Fellow undefeated national champions Yianni Diakomihalis of Cornell and Anthony Ashnault of Rutgers round out the ballot.
A portion of the award’s selection is based on fan vote, in addition to both quantitative criterion like record and number of pins and more subjective factors like sportsmanship/citizenship and heart. The winner of the fan vote receives two additional first-place ballots.
Fan voting opens online Monday at 6 p.m. EST.
This is the second year on the ballot for both Nickal and Nolf. Their teammate Zain Retherford received the honor each of the last two seasons. In addition to Retherford, David Taylor and Kerry McCoy are the only other Nittany Lions to win the Hodge.
This is the fifth time in the last eight years multiple Nittany Lions have been finalists. Last year, when both Nickal and Retherford were up for the award, Nickal humbly endorsed the Zain Train in an effort not to split the Penn State fan base. Neither wrestler has given any indication of a similar plan this time around.
Nickal was 30-0 with 18 falls and 27 bonus point wins this season. Nolf was similarly dominant, going 31-0 with 15 falls and 26 bonus point wins.