Bo Nickal ended his Penn State wrestling career with a 68-match winning streak, three consecutive national titles, and the most coveted individual honor in college wrestling: the Dan Hodge Trophy.
Nickal beat out teammate Jason Nolf and fellow reigning NCAA champions Anthony Ashnault of Rutgers and Yianni Diakomihalis of Cornell in the race for the wrestling equivalent of the Heisman Trophy.
During his senior year, Nickal was 30-0, recording 17 falls and scoring bonus points in all but three of his bouts. He ended his Penn State career with a 120-3 record. His 59 falls are the second most in program history, second only to Nolf. The two were neck-and-neck in season-long competitions for who would claim the falls record and who would win the Hodge race.
The Hodge Trophy is given to college wrestling’s most dominant student athlete based on a number of criteria such as wins, falls, citizenship, and heart. Two votes in the final decision are determined by a fan vote, which Nickal won by a landslide, earning more than 13,000 votes, good enough for 50 percent of ballots.
Nickal is the fourth Nittany Lion to win the award, following in the footsteps of Kerry McCoy, David Taylor, and Zain Retherford. This is the third year in a row one of Cael Sanderson’s wrestlers won the award, after Retherford received it in 2017 and 2018.