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Fans can vote online among five NCAA champs for 2014 Hodge Trophy winner

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College wrestling fans can again take part in the selection process for the 2014 Hodge Trophy, award sponsor WIN (Wrestling Insider Newsmagazine) announced Wednesday.

Fans can cast their vote for one of five 2014 NCAA Division I wrestling champs in online balloting at the magazine’s website. Candidates include Ohio State’s Logan Stieber, 141-pound champ… 157-pound champ Alex Dieringer of Oklahoma State… Penn State’s 165-pound champ, David Taylor (2012 Hodge winner)… Oklahoma State’s Chris Perry, champ at 174… and Ed Ruth, Penn State’s champ at 184. (Brief biographies are available at the WIN website.)

Fan votes are due Friday, March 28 at 5 p.m. Central. Only one vote person.

According to WIN, fan voting accounts for two of the 45 official votes.

This is the second year wrestling fans have been invited to participate in the Hodge Trophy selection process. Last year, the magazine selected four-time NCAA champ Kyle Dake of Cornell; however, over 2,500 fans cast votes at the magazine’s website, choosing Ruth as the winner instead of Dake. According to the magazine’s statement, “With the composite fan vote resulting in two of the official 43 ballots, the fan vote pushed Ruth ahead of Oklahoma State’s Jordan Oliver as the Hodge Trophy runner-up, 89-88, in final placement points.” (Four points were awarded for a first-place vote, three for second, two for third and a point for a fourth-place vote on each of the official ballots.)

The award has been presented each year since 1996 to the best college wrestler in the nation. Various media outlets have described the Hodge as "the Heisman of college wrestling."

In addition to Dake, past Hodge winners include Penn State’s David Taylor in 2012, 2012 Olympic gold medalist Jordan Burroughs (who received it as a University of Nebraska wrestler in 2011), Ben Askren (two-time winner for Missouri, 2006 and 2007), Penn State head coach Cael Sanderson (three-time winner for Iowa State, 2000-2002), Maryland head coach Kerry McCoy (Penn State, 1997) and retired New England Patriots NFL star Stephen Neal (Cal State Bakersfield, 1999).

The award is named in honor of Dan Hodge, three-time NCAA wrestling champ for the University of Oklahoma, 1955-1957. Hodge was 46-0 as a Sooner, winning 36 of his matches by pin. He also owns the distinction of being the only wrestler to be featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated as a wrestler, in 1957.

According to WIN, considerations for the Hodge Trophy include “a wrestler’s record, number of pins, domination on the mat, past credentials, quality of competition, sportsmanship/citizenship, and heart.”

Want to know more? To read more about Dan Hodge and the trophy that bears his name, check out articles on the subject from College Wrestling Examiner. And for photos and info on "Dangerous Dan" -- including a gallery of Hodge Trophy winners -- visit Fans of Dan Hodge Yahoo group.

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