| Alex Dieringer (Oklahoma State) after winning his third NCAA title.
Photo: Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com.
The 165-pound Dieringer earned 27 of the 45 first-place votes to becomes the second Oklahoma State wrestler — joining former Cowboy Steve Mocco (2005) — to win the award that was created by WIN founder Mike Chapman in 1995.
The Dan Hodge Trophy is named after the former University of Oklahoma wrestler who won three NCAA championships (1955-57) and never allowed a takedown in his college career and pinned 36 of 46 victims.
Criteria for the award includes a wrestler’s record, number of pins, dominance on the mat, past credentials, quality of competition, sportsmanship/citizenship and heart.
“This is the best group of Hodge Trophy finalists we’ve ever had for the award,” said WIN Publisher Bryan Van Kley. “We’re extremely proud to announce Alex as this year’s winner. He obviously won the award over a group of finalists who all were extremely dominant and who could have been worthy Hodge winners on any given year. Wrestling was just blessed this year with several student-athletes who were going were going for the pin every match and looking to dominate every time they stepped on the mat.”
Dieringer, a native of Port Washington, Wisc., ended his Cowboy career on an 82-match winning streak, including 33-0 with 12 pins, seven technical falls and eight major decisions this past season, which ended with Dieringer’s 6-2 victory over Wisconsin’s Isaac Jordan at the 2016 NCAA Championships in New York City, March 19.
Overall, Dieringer finished 133-4 and 19-1 at the NCAAs over four years as the Cowboy earned All-American honors each season. His only NCAA loss came in the semifinals of the 2013 NCAA Championships, where Dieringer claimed third place at 157 pounds. One year later, Dieringer scored a 13-4 major decision against Minnesota’s Dylan Ness for the 157-pound championship. In 2015, Dieringer moved up to 165 pounds and defeated Indiana’s Taylor Walsh for his second national title.
Dieringer became the 16th all-time Oklahoma State wrestler to win three national championships and 14th Cowboy to earned four All-American honors.
“The award went to the right guy,” an excited Oklahoma State coach John Smith told WIN when notified of Dieringer winning the “Heisman Trophy” of wrestling. “This has been his No. 1 goal all year.”
Dieringer will receive the actual 2016 Dan Hodge Trophy on Thursday, April 21, at the Oklahoma State wrestling banquet in Stillwater, Okla.
Finishing second to Dieringer was Penn State sophomore Zain Retherford, a two-time All-American, who claimed his first national championship at 149 pounds with a 10-1 major decision against Iowa’s Brandon Sorensen in the New York City.
Retherford won the on-line fan vote, which accounted for two of the 45 votes. A total of 149,592 votes were cast March 22-25 with Retherford collecting 41,221 compared to 38,716 for Dieringer. The remaining voters were each former Hodge Trophy winner, select national wrestling media representatives, retired college coaches from each region of the country and a representative of each national wrestling organization.
There were two other finalists for the award: Ohio State sophomore Kyle Snyder, who defeated two-time NCAA champion Nick Gwiazdowski for the heavyweight championship; and Cornell senior Nahshon Garrett, a four-time All-American, who defeated Iowa’s Cory Clark for the 133-pound championship at the recent NCAAs.