Penn State’s 2021-22 wrestling season was an indisputable success. The year ended last weekend with the Nittany Lions winning their ninth team national championship in 11 seasons, and if that weren’t enough, Penn State went 5-for-5 in its individual national championship matches.
Three of those national champions— Roman Bravo-Young, Carter Starocci and Nick Lee— have been named finalists for this years Hodge Trophy, given annually to America’s best college wrestler.
Penn State represents almost half of the finalists, with three of the eight being Nittany Lions. Six of the eight finalists are from the Big Ten.
Bravo-Young won his second individual championship at the 133-pound weight class, capping off a perfect 22-0 season. The Hodge Trophy would be a perfect feather in the cap of Bravo-Young decides not to return to Penn State, a decision which he’s currently pondering.
Like Bravo-Young, Lee is also a two-time champion and also finished 22-0. Unlike Bravo-Young, the 144-pounder and fifth-year wrestler is out of collegiate eligibility, so the Hodge is the last thing left for him to win as a college wrestler.
The third and final finalists is Starocci, who won his second individual national title in just his second year at the 174-pound weight class, finishing the season with a 23-0 record.
The other finalists are; Gable Steveson (Minnesota), Nick Suriano (Michigan), Yianni Diakomihalis (Cornell), Ryan Deakin (Northwestern) and Keegan O’Toole (Missouri).
Penn State hopes to have it’s fifth Hodge Trophy winner and seventh award overall. The previous winners are Kerry McCoy (1997), David Taylor (2012, 2014), Zain Retherford (2017-18), and Bo Nickal (2019). Fan voting is open until 6 p.m. Friday.