The Dan Hodge Trophy is back in David Taylor’s hands. The award is given to the nation’s most dominant wrestler, which Taylor is clearly deserving of after a perfect 34-0 season, including 16 pins and 8 technical falls. This is the second time Taylor has earned the award; he also won it in his 2012 sophomore campaign.
Taylor earned his second individual title, after losing to Kyle Dake last season and former Penn Stater Bubba Jenkins in his freshman season. Taylor also had a perfect 33-0 season his sophomore year, and he has only lost three matches his whole career. Taylor had only two matches this season that he did not win with bonus points, including one against runner-up Tyler Caldwell, who he defeated in the finals.
“If I had to pick what people remembered of me, it’s that every time I stepped on the mat I tried to dominate the guys I wrestled,” Taylor said.
Penn State coach Cael Sanderson is one of only two multiple-time recipients of the Dan Hodge Trophy, named after a University of Oklahoma wrestler who was a three time NCAA Champion, went 46-0 in his career and never allowed a takedown in his collegiate career.
“The way you compete is bigger than if you won or lost,” Sanderson said. “This kid has a passion for wrestling and was an entertainer and was trying to score points the whole seven minutes.”
Taylor earned 37 of the 45 first place votes, while fellow teammate Ed Ruth came in third and received two first place votes. Logan Stieber and Chris Perry each received three first place votes as well. Taylor and Ruth finished first and second in voting in 2012, which was the first time in history two wrestlers from the same team finished in first and runner-up. Ruth also was a runner-up for the Hodge Trophy last season.
The award is given by WIN magazine and Culture House, and it is based on the following seven criteria: record, number of pins, dominance, past credentials, quality of competition, sportsmanship/citizenship, and heart.
Last year, the award changed its format from previous years. In the past, writers from WIN magazine had chosen the winner, but voting now includes members of the national media as well as past Hodge trophy winners.