Penn State's Taylor is just third soph to win the Hodge

(top) grapples with Lehigh's Brandon Hatchett in the 165-pound championship bout at the NCAA Division I tournament. JEFF ROBERSON / Associated Press
(top) grapples with Lehigh's Brandon Hatchett in the 165-pound championship bout at the NCAA Division I tournament. JEFF ROBERSON / Associated Press (Penn State's David Taylor)

The 165-pounder is the first Nittany Lion since 1997 to capture wrestling's Heisman.

Posted: March 24, 2012

STATE COLLEGE - Penn State hasn't had a Heisman Trophy winner in nearly 40 years, but the Nittany Lions have secured another Hodge Trophy, their first since 1997.

Nittany Lions wrestler David Taylor, who reeled off a dominant 32-0 season, became just the third sophomore and the first Penn State wrestler to win the Dan Hodge Trophy - college wrestling's equivalent to the Heisman - since Kerry McCoy.

Taylor capped his remarkable second season with an individual 165-pound championship at last week's NCAA wrestling tournament, where he pinned four opponents in a total time of 8 minutes, 46 seconds. In the finals, Taylor was barely tested, posting a 22-7 technical fall over Brandon Hatchett of Lehigh.

Dominant and dominate were words Taylor usually used in response to questions about his season and progress.

All year long, the St. Paris, Ohio native backed up his words. His original goal was to win every match with bonus points. He got pretty close.

Taylor earned bonus points in all but two of his bouts this season, and he has notched bonus points in 65 of his 71 college matches.

His style and attitude have been compared to those of his head coach, third-year Penn State boss Cael Sanderson.

Sanderson (Iowa State) was the first sophomore to win the Hodge Trophy, capturing his first of three in 2000. Before Taylor, Iowa's Brent Metcalf was the last sophomore to win the award, doing it in 2008.

Penn State sophomore Ed Ruth and senior Frank Molinaro also received consideration for the Hodge Trophy.

Ruth finished behind Taylor for the honor, making them the first teammates to finish one-two in the trophy's 17-year history. Ruth went 31-0 and won the 174-pound NCAA championship last week with a 13-2 major decision over Chris Amuchastegui of Stanford.

Like Taylor, Ruth ran roughshod over his opponents. He notched two pins, a technical fall, and a decision in addition to his major decision.

Molinaro finished his career at Penn State as just the school's fifth four-time all-American.

The season's 149-pound individual champion, Molinaro finished with a 33-0 record and was third in Hodge Trophy balloting.

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