As the wrestling season inches closer to the NCAA Championships in Philadelphia, Takedown Talk will take a look at the leading candidates for the 2011 Hodge Trophy for the most outstanding wrestler in the nation.
Wrestlers will move up or down on the list pending on results over the course of the next month leading up to the NCAA Championships in Philadelphia.
The Current Leaders as of 3/7/11
1. Jordan Burroughs, 165 pounds (Nebraska): Burroughs carries a 31-0 record, and has done it in dominating fashion. Only three times in his 31 matches this season has he only won by a decision, and that came against No. 2 and defending NCAA champion Andrew Howe of Wisconsin and No. 3 Tyler Caldwell of Oklahoma twice. Burroughs wrapped up the Big 12 title with a win over Caldwell and has registered seven victories over top-25 opponents.
2. Anthony Robles, 125 pounds (Arizona State): Robles is one of the most powerful wrestlers in the nation, and it shows with his gaudy 31-0 record. He has already toppled No. 8 Jarrod Patterson of Oklahoma by technical fall, as well as No. 7 Jon Morrison by major decision. Robles has won 22 of his 31 matches by technical fall. The Sun Devil senior has immense upper body strength and will get a chance to showcase his talents in March.
3. Jordan Oliver, 133 pounds (Oklahoma State): Oliver has been a machine on the mat this season, posting a perfect 24-0 record with nine wins by way of fall and six others by technical fall. Oliver owns a win over No. 2 Andrew Hochstrasser and has only been held to a dcision three times all season. Oliver may not have wrestled the most matches, but he will get a chance to win over some voters at the NCAA championships with his punishing style.
4. Jon Reader, 174 (Iowa State): Reader has been lost in the shuffle a bit this season after finishing last season with an early exit in the NCAA tournament. However, the two-time All-American has been nothing short of spectacular thus far, carrying a 34-0 record into the NCAA Championships with victories over 2010 national runner up Mack Lewnes (Cornell) and then No. 5 Ben Bennett (Central Michigan). The Cyclone senior has won 29 of his matches by way of bonus points, including collecting two major decisions to earn Outstanding Wrestler of the Big 12 Tournament.
5. David Taylor, 157 (Penn State): Taylor is a freshman on a mission this season. The Penn State 157-pounder is 34-0 with 32 of those wins by way of bonus points. He has registered eight wins by way of fall and 14 technical falls. The freshman is lightning quick with his offense when he needs it and is one of the most talented underclassmen in recent memory. The big challenge will now come at nationals when he could get a chance at top-ranked Steve Fittery (American) and No. 2 Adam Hall (Boise State).
James Nicholson, 125 pounds (Old Dominion), Kellen Russell, 141 pounds (Michigan), Steve Fittery, 157 pounds (American), Adam Hall, 157 pounds (Boise State), Darrion Caldwell, 149 pounds (N.C. State), Chris Honeycutt, 184 pounds (Edinboro), Trevor Brandvold, 197 pounds (Wisconsin), Clayton Foster, 197 pounds (Oklahoma State)