Andy Hamilton's recent blog post laid out an argument for several guys.
and here's the article:
Jordan Oliver could finish his career second on Oklahoma State’s all-time winning percentage list among wrestlers with at least 100 victories.
Matt McDonough is currently fourth on the same chart at Iowa and on the verge of stamping his name alongside the school’s all-time leaders in falls and consecutive victories.
Cornell’s Kyle Dake is aiming for his fourth NCAA title at four different weights — nobody had ever accomplished the feat at three until Dake did it last year — and has only allowed one takedown in the past two seasons.
Yet none of the three is an overwhelming favorite to win college wrestling’s top prize at the midway point of the season.
Most years there was a Hodge Trophy candidate who surfaced above the rest of college wrestling’s stars and crystallized the process for the WIN Magazine panel that selected the sport’s equivalent of the Heisman. Some years there were a couple.
This year there’s more than ever before. Perhaps that’s to be expected in a year with 10 returning national champions.
“I don’t think there’s ever been a year in the 19 years that we’ve been awarding the Hodge Trophy that there’s been five or six guys that not only have the talent but also have the numbers to be a legitimate Dan Hodge Trophy winner,” said WIN Magazine publisher Brian Van Kley, whose publication created the award in 1995. “And that’s the case this year.”
Fifteen wrestlers remain unbeaten — six have scored bonus points in at least 80 percent of their matches this season — and that’s not even including last year’s clear-cut winner.
Penn State’s David Taylor became an easy choice a year ago after mowing through the NCAA Championships with four pins and a technical fall. He finished 32-0 as a sophomore with 30 bonus-point victories.
But Dake has already defeated Taylor twice this season. Though their match at the NWCA All-Star Classic doesn’t count on official records, it could in the minds of a new voting panel being assembled to select the Hodge.
Van Kley said a collection of journalists, former coaches and past Hodge recipients will select this year’s winner. Fans can give their input on WIN’s website in a poll that will count toward one vote.
It’s setting up to be quite a race to the finish line at Wells Fargo Arena.
A fourth NCAA title could move Dake to the top of the list, but he still has to go through Taylor another time. Ohio State’s Logan Stieber has scored bonus points in all 15 of his matches this season, but he’s expected to miss all of January with an injury.
Oliver, McDonough, Penn State’s Ed Ruth, Kent State’s Dustin Kilgore and a handful of others are still in the race, too.
Van Kley said this is a reflection of developing trend in wrestling. The top high school talents are more equipped to compete on the college level than ever before.
Ohio State coach Tom Ryan said this could be the result of a technology boom that has enabled young wrestlers to study the world’s best wrestlers with a few taps of a keyboard.
“USA Wrestling has to have a big smile on its face because there is some incredible talent,” Ryan said. “If they can keep these guys in wrestling and working for Olympic gold medals, the talent on the teams will be really high.”
It’s been a while since the National Duals ended with the type of drama Grand View created on Sunday. Eric Thompson’s fall in the last match of the tournament lifted the Vikings to a 20-18 victory against No. 2 Southern Oregon in the NAIA title meet. It’s believed to be the first time a title has been determined with a fall at heavyweight since 2006 when Minnesota’s Cole Konrad pinned Oklahoma State’s Steve Mocco. ... Oklahoma State’s 18-12 victory against Iowa on Sunday marked just the second time in 36 years that a dual between the two schools ended with 10 decisions. it also happened in 2011. ... Wartburg found itself in an unsual position Sunday in the Division III National Duals title meet without Augsburg on the other side. It’s just the second time the rivals haven’t clashed for the title.
Logan-Magnolia’s Kent Kersten moved to the top of the Iowa all-time coaching list last week when he claimed his 520th dual win. ... Nearly 2,500 people crammed into Southeast Polk’s gym last Thursday to watch the top-ranked Rams wrestle rival Ankeny. For perspective, No. 5 Ohio State wrestled at home the following night against No. 3 Minnesota in front of a crowd of 2,805. ... Linn-Mar’s Alijah Jeffery topped Spirit Lake Park’s Doug Miner 4-1 on Saturday in a battle between the top-ranked 120-pounders in Class 3-A and 2-A. ... Waverly-Shell Rock won the Geneseo (Ill.) Invitational, finishing ahead of three other ranked Iowa 3-A teams without second-ranked Andrew Steiert in the lineup at 138. Bettendorf finished 11 points behind the Go-Hawks.
Hodge Trophy Watch
1. Kyle Dake — The three-time NCAA champ from Cornell is 18-0 with eight pins and four major decisions at 174 a pair of victories against 2012 Hodge winner David Taylor and a 9-3 win at 174 against No.10 Nathaniel Brown.
2. Ed Ruth — Penn State’s junior 184-pounder is 16-0 with bonus points in 13 wins, plus victories against defending NCAA champ Steve Bosak and 2011 finalist Robert Hamlin.
3. Jordan Oliver — Oklahoma State’s senior 149-pounder is 18-0 with nine pins, two technical falls and five majors. including a 21-8 demolition of No4 Cole VonOhlen.
4. Dustin Kilgore — The Kent State 197-pounder is 22-0 with bonus points in 18 matches. including a technical fall against defending Big Ten champion Mario Gonzalez.
5. Matt McDonough — The two-time NCAA champ hasn’t reached his top gear yet this season and a shortage of matches could hurt, but he’s 10-0 with bonus points in seven wins.
“I’m still in shock. I can’t believe we won the tournament. ... There’s not many times during the season when I can sit back and be like, ‘I’m really happy right now.’ But I’m really happy right now.”
-- Nick Mitchell, Grand View’s coach after the Vikings rallied to win the NAIA National Duals for the second straight year.