November Hodge Talk

November Hodge Talk

Taking a look at who has inserted themselves in the early discussion for the Hodge Trophy.

Nov 15, 2017 by Wrestling Nomad
November Hodge Talk

With three of the four finalists from last year’s Hodge Trophy race returning, the award this year has an air of being a bit anticlimactic.

Though the finalists will likely come down to reigning champion Zain Retherford, his Penn State teammates Jason Nolf and Bo Nickal, and Ohio State's Kyle Snyder, here are some other guys throwing their names in the Hodge Talk discussion early.

125: Nick Piccininni (Oklahoma State), 4-0

I’ve talked about the third-year jump in Oklahoma State wrestlers before, and that’s where we find Nick Piccininni. He beat Darian Cruz at the NWCA All-Star Classic on Nov. 5, which only “matters” for perception purposes, and has a chance to beat the other NCAA finalist in Minnesota'sEthan Lizak this Sunday in Stillwater, OK. Aside from continuing to beat the top tier of guys, Piccininni’s Hodge case will be helped if he can prevent things like giving up takedowns to unranked guys such as Virginia Tech's Kyle Norstrem.

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133: Seth Gross (South Dakota State), 3-0

If you were paying attention, this one shouldn’t be surprising. He went 34-2 last year with 30 bonus-point wins and picked up right where he left off by pinning his way through the Bison Open last weekend. He also notched a 7-1 win over Michigan's Stevan Micic at the All-Star Classic. Gross has the most realistic shot of anyone on this list to be a finalist at year’s end. This Friday, he'll get to wrestle No. 6 Mitch McKee of Minnesota LIVE on Flo!

165: Chance Marsteller (Lock Haven), 9-0

Think this one's a reach? He has five techs and a pin already; J'den Cox only had six techs all of last season. Marsteller was a higher-rated prospect than anyone in high school, even at one point being considered the superior recruit to Kyle Snyder. This year is Marsteller's opportunity to remind people of that.

174: Zahid Valencia (Arizona State), 2-0

Valencia's first two weeks give him a massive jump in the "quality of competition" category, having beaten the second-, third-, and fourth-ranked wrestlers at his weight. Last season, he won his first 36 matches before falling to Penn State's Mark Hall in the NCAA semis. We already know that being undefeated is one of the main criteria when it come to winning the Hodge.