The NCAA wrestling season may have ended with a national championship more than two months ago — but the hardware keeps rolling in for the Penn State wrestling team.
Nittany Lions coach Cael Sanderson was named the Dan Gable Coach of the Year, while national champ Zain Retherford earned the Schalles Award as the nation’s top pinner for the second straight year. Both awards were announced in the most recent issue of Wrestling Insider Newsmagazine (WIN), which was released Thursday.
Gable, who the COY award is named after, had plenty of praise for Sanderson in the magazine.
“I don’t care if he’s done it (won Coach of the Year) before,” Gable told WIN. “Just because they are winning a lot as a team, you can’t just give it to the next-best person because the next-best person is in second place. Based on what Penn State did, especially between the Big Tens and the three-day performance at the NCAAs, he deserves this honor.”
Likewise, Wade Schalles — the prolific pinner whose name is on Retherford’s trophy — only had good things to say about Penn State’s 149-pound wrestler.
“There hasn’t been a wrestler the likes of Zain Retherford in well over a decade,” Schalles said. “He’s a rare breed indeed because he doesn’t care what the scoreboard reads. If you’re not on your back, Zain’s not happy. That type of mentality always leads to bonus-point bouts and an intimidation factor that simply overwhelms even the best of opponents. He’s in an elite class of his own with legends like (Dan) Gable, (Gene) Mills, (Randy) Lewis, Askren, etc.”
Other WIN winners included Ohio State’s Kyle Snyder, who collected the Mike Chapman Impact Award; Gable Stevenson, who won the Junior Schalles Award and Trackwrestling’s Andy Hamilton, who was named the 2017 Journalist of the Year.