The ultimate goal of wrestling is to pin your opponent and few things ignite a crowd like the home team securing the fall. The college season is rolling along across the country which made us ask the question, who is pinning their man most often in each division? We’ll take a quick stroll through Division II, Division III, NAIA, NJCAA, and CCCAA to see who the top pinners at those levels are thus far. Then, we’ll count down the top-10 pinners in Division I through three-plus weeks of the 2017-18 season. While the NCAA statistical leaders released later in the year won’t include redshirts and matches against wrestlers in different divisions, our standings include everyone in addition to all matches reported in TrackWrestling as of November 23rd, 2017. When two wrestlers have the same number of pins, we used the least amount of time to break the tie.
Gavin Nye (285, Colorado State-Pueblo) – 10 falls, 16:19
Nolan Krone (184, Colorado Mesa) – 8 falls, 19:58
Brock Benitez (157, Upper Iowa) – 8 falls, 22:00
Lenny Ogozalek (125, Gettysburg) – 10 falls, 29:02
Isaiah Bellamy (285, Wesleyan (CT)) – 8 falls, 16:45
Hunter Harris (133, Messiah) – 8 falls. 20:19
Drew Mccollum (197, Hannibal-LaGrange (MO) – 9 falls, 16:25
Jon Floyd (285, Cumberland (TN)) – 8 falls, 14:23
Jacob Hergott (133, Northwestern (IA)) – 8 falls, 23:28
Alex Kauffman (184, Northeast Oklahoma) – 10 falls, 26:55
Kenny Astle (149, Western Wyoming College) – 8 falls, 9:06
Brix Brickley (285, Barton) – 8, 12:06
Ramiro Macias (285, Bakersfield College) – 10 falls, 44:01
Gregory Viloria (125, San Joaquin Delta College) – 9 falls, 31:12
Dylan Kranich (184, San Joaquin Delta College) – 8 falls, 32:55
10) Daniel Lewis (174, Missouri) – 6 falls, 12:07
Already a two-time All-American, Lewis moved up to 174 this season and is off to an 8-0 start with six falls. After pinning 10 and nine his first two seasons in the line-up, not counting the 15 he had as a redshirt, the junior is splattering opponents he should be as each of his six victims have been from outside of Division I. None of Lewis’ matches have ended closer than six points though, suggesting he’ll be dominant in most of his matches this season.
9) Casey Randles (174, Wyoming) – 6 falls, 11:48
Randles was a three-time Idaho state champion for Coeur d’Alene and through three open tournaments has yet to lose more than once at an event. The true freshman is redshirting as he works on his craft, but Mark Branch and his staff have to like what they see with Randles’ ability to put opponents away. He secured his first college pin at the Cowboy Open, added three more at the Northern Colorado Open, and got two at the UNK Holiday Inn Open last weekend.
8) Lenny Petersen (141, Air Force) – 6 falls, 11:28
When you enter the Air Force Academy as a true freshman, you have to deal with a lot more than the usual first-year college student. The demands on Petersen’s time are far beyond that of most students before he adds Division I wrestling to it. Still, the two-time Illinois state champion has gotten off to a solid start, losing just once to a non-teammate and pinning six, four at the UNK Holiday Inn Open last weekend.
7) Mike Hughes (285, Hofstra) – 6 falls, 7:57
Hughes redshirted last year and lit up scoreboards across the country with a rash of tech-falls. This season, back in the lineup and searching for his first All-American finish, he has turned those techs into fast falls. The senior is 11-0 with six first period falls and is nearly half-way to his career-best 13 falls achieved two years ago. He began the year tied for seventh on the active career pinners list with 25.
6) Shakur Rasheed (197, Penn State) – 6 falls, 7:43
In 2015-16, Rasheed battled Geno Morelli for the 165-pound starting job at Penn State. In 2017-18, he is the third option for the Nittany Lions at 197. Despite his position on the depth chart, Rasheed is doing what wrestlers under Cael Sanderson do, scoring bonus points. He has recorded three first period falls at both the Clarion Open and Jonathan Kaloust Bearcat Open to make this list. The junior is unlikely to be needed as the starter this season, but with Anthony Cassar’s injury history and Matt McCutcheon being a senior, he provides a good insurance policy for next year.
5) Ben Darmstadt (197, Cornell) – 6 falls, 7:24
Darmstadt spent a year at Finger Lakes between high school and matriculating at Cornell. Since he has been officially a member of the Big Red, he has feasted on a mostly soft early schedule. In addition to his six falls, all of which have come in the first period, Darmstadt has recorded a pair of techs. He found the going a little tougher against 10th ranked Frank Mattiace (Penn) and Rasheed, but when Darmstadt is clearly the better wrestler, he leaves no doubt.
4) Matt Stencel (285, Central Michigan) – 6 falls, 6:55
As a true freshman last season, Stencel had nine falls in his 13 wins so it shouldn’t be a surprise that he is still pinning people now that he has hit the lineup. After sticking five across the Michigan State Open and the Eastern Michigan Open, Stencel got the fall in his Central Michigan dual debut on November 17th when he glued Christian Rebottaro (Michigan State) just 1:11 into their clash.
3) Jason Nolf (157, Penn State) – 7 falls, 20:37
Through two seasons, Nolf had 29 falls and the defending national champion has scored the maximum number of team points possible so far this season, pinning all seven of his opponents thus far. The junior pinned his first five last year and didn’t have a match go seven minutes until January 8th. It remains to be seen if anyone can push him to seven minutes in 2017-18. Nolf began the year tied for third on the active career pinners list and has since moved into second place behind teammate Zain Retherford.
2) Kevin Vough (285, South Dakota State) – 7 falls, 12:54
After earning 117 falls in high school and finishing in the top three in the Ohio state tournament all four years, Vough was a highly sought after recruit that initially signed with Boise State. When that program was dropped, he ended up at South Dakota State. As a true freshman, Vough debuted at the Warren Williamson Daktronics Open, going 3-3, but failing to notch his first college pin. He got on the board the next week with a pair at the Bison Open, then pinned all five foes on his way to a title at the Finn Grinaker Open. Vough was a teammate of Darmstadt at Elyria HS in Ohio.
1) Brian Barnes (285, Northern Colorado) – 9 falls, 15:41
Barnes is a true freshman who was a three-time Oregon state champion for McMinnville. He has gotten a lot of mat time during his redshirt season thus far, working his way to a 12-5 record in a trio of open tournaments. Many of those matches haven’t lasted long as eight of Barnes’ nine falls have come in the first period.