Creating The Best Pennsylvania D1 Lineup Of All Time

Creating The Best Pennsylvania D1 Lineup Of All Time

Many great wrestlers have come out of Pennsylvania, but these stand out above the rest.

Apr 8, 2020 by JD Rader
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A few weeks ago I crowdsourced the idea of putting together an all-time great college dual team with the current weights using athletes from their home states. The responses were great and really got me curious. So, I did the research and have now put together the best possible team for the top 16 states including some formidable back-up teams.

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A few weeks ago I crowdsourced the idea of putting together an all-time great college dual team with the current weights using athletes from their home states. The responses were great and really got me curious. So, I did the research and have now put together the best possible team for the top 16 states including some formidable back-up teams.

Across the next handful of days, we will unveil these teams before pitting them against each other in a national duals format type competition.

With how much the weight classes have changed over the years, I tried to slide wrestlers in where I thought they would wrestle, i.e. 126 = 125. I also tried to avoid having to bump wrestlers up or down weight classes when able.

Now, let’s start with arguably the best state for college wrestling: Pennsylvania. 

125 Starter: Spencer Lee, Murrysville, 2018-current

NCAA Tournament Finishes: 1, 1, NQ*, ?

When Spencer Lee’s career most likely comes to an end next season, I truly believe he will go down as not just one of the best 125-pounders of all time, but one of the best college wrestlers of all time. This season he went 18-0 with four pins, nine techs, three majors, a seven-point decision, and a forfeit. That gives him a dominance score of 4.94 and a bonus rate of 94 percent, while only spending an average of 3:42 on the mat.

If that wasn’t enough, he also won Senior Nationals in the middle of this college season. The 57 bracket included national champions Nathan Tomasello, Nick Suriano, Darian Cruz, and Nahshon Garrett.

125 Backup: Ed Peery, Glenshaw, 1955-57

NCAA Tournament Finishes: 1, 1, 1 (all at 123)

According to his EIWA Hall of Fame bio, Ed Peery went 51-1 in college while wrestling for Pitt. The only match he lost was a 4-3 in the EIWA semis as a junior vs. Springfield’s Joe Alissi, up one weight at 130.

Honorable mention

NameYears ActiveNCAA Tournament Finishes
Ricky Bonomo1984-87R12, 1, 1, 1 (all at 118)
Jack Cuvo1986-89NQ, 5, 1, 1 (all at 118)
Tony Gizoni1950-511 (121), 1 (123)
Jim Martin1986-894, 2 (118), 1, 3 (126)



133 Starter: Jordan Oliver, Easton, 2010-13

NCAA Tournament Finishes: 4, 1, 2 (133), 1 (149)

Jordan Oliver’s 2011 NCAA title run: pin, pin, 10-2 over Mike Grey, 5-2 over Tyler Graff, and 8-4 Andrew Hochstrasser. Also…

He’s one controversial no takedown call away from being a three-timer and having a career record of 127-5.

133 Backup: Coleman Scott, Waynesburg, 2005-08

NCAA Tournament Finishes: 8, 5 (125), 2, 1 (133)

A double dose of Cowboy at 133. Without redshirting Coleman Scott was able to rack up four All-American finishes. He really picked it up his junior and senior years when he bumped up to 133 and made two finals appearances, pinning Joey Slaton in under a minute his senior year to win the title.

Honorable Mention

NameYears ActiveNCAA Tournament Finishes
Larry Lauchle1959-61

2 (123), 2, 1 (130)

Don Rohn1973-76

1, 3, NQ (134), 6 (142)

Tom Sculley1973-74R8, 1 (134)

141 Starter: Cary Kolat, Rices Landing, 1993-97

NCAA Tournament Finishes: 2, 3, 1 (134), 1 (142)

Everyone knows how much of a bad dude Cary Kolat was in high school. He even took third at Midlands as a sophomore.

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Well, that continued at Penn State and Lock Haven as Kolat never finished below third at the NCAA Tournament and ended his college career with a record of 111-7 with 53 pins.

141 Backup: Pat Santoro, Bethlehem, 1986-89

NCAA Tournament Finishes: 6, 2, 1, 1 (142)

Now the head coach for Lehigh, Pat Santoro was Pitt’s first and still only four-time All-American. Watch him win his fourth NCAA title below.

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Honorable Mention

NameYears ActiveNCAA Tournament Finishes
John Hughes1992-96NQ, 7, 1, 2 (142)
Sean O'Day1987-89

7, 2 (142), 1 (134)


149 Starter: Zain Retherford, Benton, 2014-18

NCAA Tournament Finishes: 5 (141), 1, 1, 1 (149)

It takes one of the best of all time to beat out Nate Carr for a spot, and that’s exactly what Zain Retherford was. After his true freshman year in 2014 followed by a redshirt year in 2015, Zain was a different kind of animal. He went 93-0, won three national titles, and two Dan Hodge Trophy Awards. His junior season, where 24 of 27 matches ended in tech or pin, was good enough for the second Hodge season of all-time

149 Backup: Nate Carr, Erie, 1980-83

NCAA Tournament Finishes: R12, 1, 1, 1 (150)

Similar to Retherford, after Nate Carr’s freshman season he ended the final three on top of the podium. While wrestling for Iowa State, his record was 117-20-1.

Honorable Mention

NameYears ActiveNCAA Tournament Finishes
Veryl Long1963-653, 4, 1 (147)
Stan Dziedzic1968-72

NQ (152), 3, 1 (150), 2 (158)

Scott Turner1984-88

NQ (142), R12, 3, 1 (150)


157 Starter: Jason Nolf, Yatesboro, 2016-2019

NCAA Tournament Finishes: 2, 1, 1, 1 (157)

Jason Nolf will go down as one of the best wrestlers to never win the Hodge Trophy. However, because of his teammates Bo Nickal and Zain Retherford, he is only a four-time NCAA finalist and three-time champion with a career record of 117-3 and over an 80-percent bonus rate. Still pretty impressive I’d say! Oh, and those three losses — two razor-thin close matches with Isaiah Martinez and one injury default.

157 Backup: Wade Schalles, Hollidaysburg, 1971-73

NCAA Tournament Finishes: NQ (158), 1 (150), 1 (158)

Considered one of the best pinners of all time, Schalles amassed 106 pins over four years while going 153-5-1 overall at Clarion. An issue over the changing eligibility rules for freshmen ended up costing Schalles his postseason in 1974, denying him of a chance at his third title.

Honorable Mention

NameYears ActiveNCAA Tournament Finishes
Rob Koll1985-88

8 (150), 3, 3, 1 (158)

Kirk Pendleton1961-63

2 (157), 2 (147), 1 (157)


165 Starter: Vincenzo Joseph, Pittsburgh, 2017-20

NCAA Tournament Finishes: 1, 1, 2, NQ* (165)

Unfortunately for Vincenzo, he was one of the seniors who didn’t get the opportunity to finish their college career at the NCAA tournament because of the coronavirus pandemic. He will be remembered for wrestling his best at the NCAA tournament and that oh so sweet inside trip. Watch him use that inside trip to win his first NCAA title below.

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165 Backup: Troy Letters, Shaler, 2003-06

NCAA Tournament Finishes: 2, 1, 3, NQ (165)

A serious ankle injury during his senior season kept Letters from being a four-time EIWA champion and four-time All-American. During his sophomore season, Letters won the NCAA title by defeating the only wrestler to beat him during the regular season, Oklahoma State’s Tyrone Lewis, 5-2, in the finals. His career was 115-9 with 5 of those losses occurring his senior year.

Honorable Mention

NameYears ActiveNCAA Tournament Finishes
Jarrod King2008-10NQ, 1, 3 (165)
Andy Matter1970-72NQ, 1, 1 (167)
Greg Ruth1959, 1965-66

NQ (177), 1 (167), 1 (160)


174 Starter: Ed Ruth, Harrisburg, 2011-14

NCAA Tournament Finishes: 3, 1 (174), 1, 1 (184)

Remember when I said Jason Nolf was one of the best wrestlers to never win the Hodge since its conception? Well, I think Ed Ruth is THE best to never win. No one made it look as easy as Ed Ruth. Over his five years at Penn State, he won three NCAA titles, four Big Ten titles, and compiled a 140-3 record.

174 Backup: Mark Lieberman, Allentown, 1975-79

NCAA Tournament Finishes: NQ, 2 (167), 1, 1 (177)

Mark Lieberman is arguably the most credentialled wrestler in Lehigh history. He was a two-time undefeated NCAA champion and Lehigh's first four-time EIWA champion. He racked up a career record of 85-6 with 43 falls.

Honorable Mention

NameYears ActiveNCAA Tournament Finishes
Keith Gavin2005-8

NQ (184), 2, 1 (174)

Dick Batista1941-421, 1 (175)
Robbie Waller2000-03

R12, R12, 6 (165), 1 (174)


184 Starter: Jake Herbert, Wexford, 2005-09

NCAA Tournament Finishes: 3, 2 (174), 1, 1 (184)

Jake Herbert’s college accolades statistics: two NCAA titles, two undefeated seasons, three Big Ten titles, one Dan Hodge Trophy, and a career record of 135-4. In addition to all of this, he won a University World bronze medal during his Olympic redshirt year and a Senior World silver medal approximately six months after completing his college career.

184 Backup: Greg Jones, Slickville, 2002-05

NCAA Tournament Finishes: 1, NQ (174), 1, 1 (184)

As West Virginia University’s most accomplished wrestler, Jones went 126-4 en route to four EWL titles and three NCAA titles. He also went 3-for-3 in the All-Star Dual.

Honorable Mention

NameYears ActiveNCAA Tournament Finishes
Steve Bosak2010-13

R12, 4, 1, 3 (184)

Geoff Baum1969-71

6 (191), 1 (190), 1 (177)

Rob Rohn2002-025, NQ, 1 (184)

197 Starter: Quentin Wright, Wingate, 2009-13

NCAA Tournament Finishes: 6 (174), 1, 2 (184), 1 (197)

In addition to being one of the best upperweights of the past decade, Quentin Wright was also one of the most fun to watch. Throws similar to the one below and spladles become normal practice.

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197 Backup: Phil Davis, Harrisburg, 2005-08

NCAA Tournament Finishes: 7, 2, 5, 1 (197)

Mr. Wonderful Phil Davis giving up two Nittany Lions in the 197 slot. Davis went 114-20 while racking up four All-American finishes. In the 2008 NCAA finals he defeated Wynn Michalak 7-2.


285 Starter: Carlton Haselrig, Johnstown, 1987-89

NCAA Tournament Finishes: 1, 1, 1 (275)

After finishing in third place at the Division II National Tournament his freshman year, Haselrig would go on to win three-straight DII titles and three-straight DI titles, making him the only wrestler in history to win six NCAA titles. He compiled a career record of 143-2-1, including winning 122-straight. One of those matches being future World and Olympic champion and backup on this roster Kurt Angle.

285 Backup: Kurt Angle, Mt. Lebanon, 1989-92

NCAA Tournament Finishes: NQ, 1, 2, 1 (275)

Before Kurt Angle was a standout on the Senior level and in the WWF, he was a standout at Clarion. He earned a career record of 116-10-2 in addition to two NCAA titles.

Honorable Mention

NameYears ActiveNCAA Tournament Finishes
Sylvester Turkay1990-93NQ, 3, 2, 1 (275)
Jeff Walter1992-96

NQ (190), R12, 4, 1 (275)

Jim Nance1963-651, R8, 1 (UNL)

There you have it, the greatest Pennsylvania D1 lineup of all-time.

WeightNameHometownYears ActiveCollege
125Spencer LeeMurrysville2018-currentIowa
133Jordan OliverEaston2010-13Oklahoma State
141Cary KolatRices Landing1993-97

Penn State/Lock Haven

149Zain RetherfordBenton2014-18Penn State
157Jason NolfYatesboro2016-19Penn State
165Vincenzo JosephPittsburgh2017-20Penn State
174Ed RuthHarrisburg2011-14Penn State
184Jake HerbertWexford2005-09Northwestern
197Quentin WrightWingate2009-13Penn State
285Carlton HaselrigJohnstown1987-89Pitt-Johnstown