It's the "age of parity"...right? It seems that way. Every week throughout the college wrestling season upsets, individual & team, are causing you to scratch your head. It's no longer just two or three teams in the team race either. Ohio State won their first ever national championship in a sport where two programs' championships outnumber the rest of D1. Yet in this age of parity we saw four wrestlers finish dominant, undefeated seasons all worthy of the Hodge Trophy. This has caused some interesting developments with the Hodge going in to the 2015-16 season that will leave their mark on history.
It's worth pointing out the last two seasons were very interesting on the Hodge front. Heading in to the 2013-14 season it seemed like every championship was pre-determined minus 149 (157 was questionable even though St John was a defending champ). However, when the dust cleared only one wrestler, Sir David Taylor, finished off an undefeated season. Sign of the times right? From now on we should expect nobody is safe when we can see a pair of freshman beat Logan Steiber & Ed Ruth and only 3 #1 seeds win NCAA titles.
The 2014-15 season certainly looked to keep the trend going. Outside of Logan Steiber & Alex Dieringer, it was tough to see any for sure bets meaning we would see a lot of top guys stumble throughout the season. Instead, we saw six #1 seeds win national championships with four of them completing dominant, undefeated seasons. The Hodge went to Steiber, completing his fourth title, but if you looked at just last season (which I think you are technically supposed to) Dieringer, Martinez, and Gwiazdowski were all right there.
Now comes the 2015-16 season which will give us one of the best wrestlers to never win the Hodge. Alex Dieringer & Nick Gwiazdowski will all but certainly win their 3rd national championship. Dieringer has been almost untouched the last two seasons and the idea he could graduate without a Hodge seems laughable.
Mr Gwiazdowski though has pretty much the same claim. No heavyweight in the modern era has won three titles and it's not like he hasn't had competition. The list of accomplished big men he has beaten is incredible.
Of course, we can't forget about Isiah Martinez. He was the first freshman undefeated champion since the living legend (Cael) and it's not like the matches were 2-1. He is a point scoring machine who seemed to scarily be improving over the season. Obviously Martinez will just be a sophomore, but what if next season he is clearly the best wrestler? That would mean two 3-timers who hadn't lost since early in their sophomore seasons would never get a Hodge. That makes the fact that Ed Ruth doesn't have one all the sudden easy to swallow.
The "age of parity" sure isn't acting like it.
Editor's Note: Yes, I know Gwiazdowski lost in the All-star Classic. It's an exhibition with experimental rules that do not count as part of the NCAA season. For all intents and purposes, it's a freestyle match.