The Best College Wrestling Programs In The USA
With over 400 collegiate wrestling programs to choose from in the U.S., how are you supposed to decide which school to attend? Of those 400, approximately 80 are Division 1 and 50 are Division 2. Division 1 schools are well-known for their extreme competition, high standards and sizable student bodies. It is because of these characteristics that D1 schools hold more scholarship opportunities than other divisions.
If you thrive on competition and are looking to challenge yourself when you get to the mat in college, it is a good idea to start studying the best programs now. With the 2018-19 season starting soon, what better time to familiarize yourself with these schools? According to the NCAA, here’s a countdown of the top Division 1 wrestling programs in the country as of Feb. 2018.
- Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech wrestling has been in the top 10 for the past several seasons for many reasons. The SERTC (Southeast Regional Training Center), is located on their campus and has enormously contributed to their success. The SERTC was created as a separate entity to help train collegiate and Olympic-level wrestlers in the area. Head coach since 2006 Tony Robie, as well as Olympian assistant coaches Jared Frayer and Frank Molinaro have also contributed to the Hokies’ record. Noteworthy members returning to the team this year include David McDadden and Zack Zavatsky, and new faces that everyone is excited about include Korbin Meyers and Tom Sleigh.
- Arizona State
Since the 1950s, Sun Devil wrestling has been legendary. Historical greats like Curley Culp and Dan Severn set the tone for decades to come. They have won 20 conference titles and are the only school west of the Rockies to win an NCAA team championship. It’s no surprise that this school has had such a rich history of success. Head coach Zeke Jones has had quite a bit of experience with the Olympics. After winning a silver himself in 1992, he served as an Olympic head coach in 2012, where his athletes won two golds and a bronze. Returning this year are All-Americas Zahid Valencia and Tanner Hall. After going undefeated last season, fans can’t wait to see what world-champion Valencia will do this year.
Since 1910, Lehigh has been competing with some of the toughest schools in wrestling. Head coach Pat Santoro has just added three-time All-American Zach Rey as Volunteer Assistant for the 2018-19 season. Santoro is also excited to be adding eight new Mountain Hawks to the roster this season, two of which include Jaret Lane and Josh Humphreys. For the first time since 1967, all 10 wrestlers qualified for the 2018 NCAA Wrestling Championships. The only other team to have all 10 qualify was Ohio State. Scott Parker and Jordan Kutler won All-America honors at the tournament and will be returning this season.
University of Iowa has had one of the most impressive D1 wrestling programs since the 1970s. In 1976, legendary head coach Dan Gable won 17 NCAA Championships and 21 consecutive Big Ten Championships. Current head coach Tom Brands was a former Hawkeye wrestler and assistant coach under Gable, and he still carries on the winning legacy Gable started. Iowa has had an easier time than ever recruiting new wrestlers since adding the famous Spencer Lee to the team. The freshman phenomenon exceeded everyone’s already high expectations last year and will be returning this season after a knee injury.
- N.C. State
N.C. State wrestling has had some enormous success in the past several years. Two years ago, they had the number one ranked recruiting class by Intermat, and this year the Wolfpack is ranked third. Freshmen Hayden Hidlay and Tariq Wilson came in second and third place respectively, earning All-American honors at the 2018 NCAA Championships. The famous Michael Macchiavello was named ACC Wrestling Scholar Athlete of the year after winning the 197-weight class at the 2018 NCAA Championships. Head coach Pat Popolizio was also named the 2018 ACC Coach of the Year.
- Oklahoma State
OSU has quite an impressive record. Overall, the school has 34 NCAA team championships, which is more national titles than any school has in any sport. Olympic gold medalist John Smith has been the head coach since 1992, and in that time OSU has won five team national championships and 32 individual championships. He has also been named Big 12 Coach of the Year 15 times. Junior Kaid Brock, who finished second at the 2018 Big 12 Championships and fifth at the NCAA Championships will be returning this season to continue the Cowboys’ remarkable reputation.
The Wolverines produced some headlines this past season. After 19 seasons, head coach Joe McFarland announced his retirement at the end of the national championships. He has been replaced by associate head coach Sean Bormet. McFarland’s final season was one of his most successful. The team placed third at the Big 10 Championships and forth at the NCAA Championships, its highest national finish in 13 seasons. Michigan boasted five All-Americans from the national championships: Stevan Micic, Alec Pantaleo, Myles Amine, Domenic Abounader, and Adam Coon. Fan-favorite Stevan Micic was also the 2018 Big 10 Champion and national runner up.
Mizzou achieved a perfect record last season, winning its seventh consecutive conference title. The Tigers finished sixth at the NCAA Championships, with four earning All-America honors: Jaydin Eierman, Grant Leeth, Daniel Lewis, and Willie Miklus. Eierman and Lewis both finished fourth and are ranked third and fourth for their weight classes, respectively. All four will be returning this year, making for an exciting season. 2017-18 marks the eighth time Mizzou has been in the top 10; seven of those times have been under head coach Brian Smith.
- Ohio State
The renowned Buckeyes secured their third consecutive Big Ten title last season. Remarkable Nathan Tomasello became the 15th wrestler of all time to earn four individual Big Ten titles. Ohio State placed second at the 2018 NCAA Championships, achieving more points than any other runner up in history. The buckeyes also set a new record for All-America honors at the championships with eight wrestlers earning the title. Legendary Kyle Snyder was the heavyweight champion and earned his fourth All-America status along with Kyle Snyder and Bo Jordan. According to 2018 Big Ten Coach of the Year Tom Ryan, these extraordinary seniors “completely changed the trajectory of Ohio State Wrestling,” and will surely be missed by their teammates, coaches and fans this season.
- Penn State
Finally, Penn State. Head coach and wrestling legend Cael Sanderson has been with the team since 2009, and can be credited with much of their recent success. In addition to a perfect record, the Nittany Lions won the 2018 NCAA Championships for the third year in a row; their seventh title in eight years. After his incredible performance, junior Bo Nickal was awarded the NCAA Championships Most Outstanding Wrestler trophy. Nickal and notable teammate Jason Nolf also won individual titles, making them two-time NCAA champions and three-time All-Americans. At the 2018 Big Ten Championships, the team snagged second place behind Ohio State, while Zain Retherford was named Big Ten Wrestler of the Year.
There you have it; a brief overview of the top 10 D1 wrestling programs in the U.S., and just in time for the 2018-19 season. If you or someone you know is interested in taking up wrestling, we’ve got a large selection of singlets, headgearand other apparel. We even have customized apparel options for those with selective tastes. Visit our website today and start wrestling.