The ultimate goal of wrestling is to pin your opponent. No matter the score or situation, one move can render everything else that came before it irrelevant. Those who are prolific pinners have a certain mystique surrounding them. They are dangerous, possessing an ability that gives them a chance no matter who their opponent might be. Today we look at the 10 wrestlers in Division I that enter this season with the most career falls. These totals are meant to include all college matches wrestled outside of redshirt seasons and, if there were discrepancies, what the wrestler’s school reports on their website was deemed official. Every effort was made to find the active grapplers with the most pins, but if you know of someone missing that has at least 24, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
T9) Jack Hathaway, Oregon State, 24 falls (Sr)
After a freshman season that saw him pin 12 en route to the NCAA tournament, Hathaway took a step back in 2015-16, struggling up at 141 and recording just three falls. However, he rebounded last season, returning to nationals and recording two falls in St. Louis. One of those came in a stunning upset over returning All-American Joey Ward (North Carolina) in the opening round. Hathaway currently sits tied for 24th on the Beavers’ all-time pins list. The school record, Larry Bielenberg with 94, is out of reach, but a good year could see him pass Mike Mangrum (35) for 11th overall.
T9) Chandler Rogers, Oklahoma State, 24 falls (Jr)
Rogers led his team in falls for the second consecutive season after moving down to 165 and pinned his first two foes at the national tournament, needing just 52 seconds to glue Dylan Cottrell (West Virginia) two weeks after losing to him in the Big 12 final. With two seasons remaining, Chandler has an outside shot at the all-time Oklahoma State pin record held by Jordan Oliver with 54. A good season this year could see him surpass Mark Perry Sr (37) for 10th in program history.
T7) Mike Hughes, Hofstra, 25 falls (Sr)
One of the most improved wrestlers in the country over his career, Hughes was just 13-20 as a freshman, but improved to 41-10 by 2015-16, qualifying for the NCAA tournament for the first time and winning a pair of matches there. After a redshirt season, he’ll have one more shot at becoming an All-American. As he pursues that goal, expect a lot of bonus points and more than a few pins. While the school record for Hofstra is unclear, we know Lou Ruggirello notched 55 falls during his prolific career. Mike won’t get there, but given his 10 tech-falls during his redshirt campaign, he will be fun to watch.
T7) Bo Nickal, Penn State, 25 falls (Jr)
As a freshman, Nickal recorded a respectable eight falls, then he exploded for 17 last season, tieing Gabe Dean (Cornell) and Zain Retherford (Penn State) for the most in the country against Division I opposition. This put Bo on track to break his school’s all-time record for falls, 53 by Scott Moore and David Taylor, but that number may be a moving target. Retherford could top 53 this season with a big finish and there is another active Nittany Lion who may top them both when all is said and done. Even with so much competition from teammates, Nickal displayed an uncommon ability to pin top-notch competition last year. If that continues, his pin rate could climb even higher.
6) Adam Coon, Michigan, 26 falls (Sr)
Another heavyweight that redshirted in 2016-17, Coon is flying under no one’s radar, entering the season on the short list to face Kyle Snyder (Ohio State) in the heavyweight final. While not exactly known as a pinner, the two-time All-American has already accumulated 87 victories during his three years in the lineup, giving him plenty of opportunities to win by fall. Jeremiah Tobias holds the Wolverine record for most pins in a career with 56. Ryan Churella (35) and Dave Porter (37) are eighth and ninth on that list, appearing to be more likely targets for Coon during his senior campaign.
5) Colton Schilling, Cal Poly, 28 falls (Sr)
With just 46 career wins, Schilling’s 28 falls represent a high percentage of his victories. The 2017 NCAA qualifier punched his ticket to St. Louis, fittingly, by sticking Nikko Villarreal (Arizona State) in 4:36 to finish third in the Pac-12 tournament. While Scott Heaton’s school record of 55 falls looks out of reach, expect Colton to continue forcing officials to slap the mat as he works toward ending his collegiate career in Cleveland.
T3) Jason Nolf, Penn State, 29 falls (Jr)
Through two years, Nolf’s pin rate is hovering just under 50% and he has just four wins by decision. Assuming he remains healthy, he appears to be a lock to top Moore and Taylor’s mark of 53 pins. If he decides to focus on falls, Nolf has an outside shot at the unofficial top-10 in the history of top-level college wrestling with 73 needed to tie Ed Banach (Iowa), Dan Severn (Arizona State), and Jayson Ness (Minnesota) for ninth. Considering Jason has 19 tech-falls over his first two years, 44 pins in his final two seasons is not impossible, especially if he and Nickal are dueling for the school record during the 2018-19 season.
T3) Chad Walsh, Rider, 29 falls (Sr)
Walsh tied Tim Morrison’s school record for career pins when he stuck Austin Matthews (Edinboro) 35 seconds into their second-round clash at the 2017 NCAA tournament. After a seventh-place finish during which he could not secure the record-breaking fall, the senior is set on capping his career in style. In addition to the nearly assured pin record, Walsh has a chance to become Rider’s first ever three-time All-American after joining John Carvalheira as the only two-timers a year ago.
2) Jeric Kasunic, American, 30 falls (Sr)
2017 was a big year for Kasunic as he finally broke through and qualified for the NCAA tournament. Once there, he did what he has been doing throughout a solid career, pinning Austin Severn (Central Michigan) in the wrestlebacks. Jeric now sits tied with David Terao in second on the American all-time pins list, needing 14 more to tie Josh Glenn at the top. With seasons of 9, 10, and 11 pins, Kasunic owns three years which rank in the top-10 for most prolific in program history as well.
1) Zain Retherford, Penn State, 36 falls (Sr)
So dominant is Retherford now that it seems impossible he had just four pins as a true freshman in 2013-14 before emerging from redshirt as the beast we see before us now. Since then he has glued 32 of 62 opponents, putting him 17 short of tieing Moore and Taylor for the school record. While Nolf and Nickal look likely to take that record from him even if he gets it, capping such a remarkable career by pinning at least 18 would be fitting. Zain has larger goals, as do all the competitors listed here, but his chase for the record this season will add some drama to another season likely to be spent mashing his foes.