The Fanco Wrestling Awards are given out to the best of the best in college wrestling. College wrestling fans directly determine the outcome of the awards categories by voting the week after the season ends.
May we present the 2022 Fanco Wrestling Awards. . .
Given to the wrestler who broke through the crowd and made a name for himself.
UNC’s Kizhan Clarke went 0-2 at ACCs, received an at-large big to NCAAs, then made the National Finals as the #15 seed. He upset #2 Jaydin Eierman, #10 Jakob Bergeland, and #6 Cole Matthews to make the finals.
Dual Meet of the Year
Winner: Penn State vs Iowa
This year had a myriad of incredible dual meets: NC State vs Iowa, Penn State vs Michigan, Oklahoma State vs Northern Iowa, and NC State vs Virginia Tech. We could keep going on. . .
But the fans voted #1 Penn State vs #2 Iowa as Dual Meet of the Year. The Nittany Lions claimed a 19-13 victory over the Hawkeyes with some thrilling matches along the way.
Rookie of the Year
Winner: Dean Hamiti (Wisconsin)
This is awarded to a freshman who has not yet competed at the NCAA Championships. A true gem in a field filled with upperclassmen, Dean Hamiti paved his way onto the podium.
He started his TRUE freshman season with 17 straight wins and earned an Illinois Matmen Open title. He finished 6th at NCAAs in a tough weight class.
Winners: Pat McKee & David Carr
This award is given to wrestlers who show true grit by battling through the backside of the NCAA bracket after an early loss.
Both Pat McKee and David Carr fought hard. McKee won 5 straight matches in the consis after an early loss. He finished in 5th. Carr won 6 straight matches in the consis to finish in 3rd.
Upset of the Year
Winner: #17 Willits over #1 Carr
#17 Hunter Willits of Oregon State did the unthinkable and beat the #1 seed David Carr at NCAAs in the second round.
He shocked the world and proved why we, as wrestling fans, should know his name. Not only did he do this, Willits finished as an All-American in 7th place.
Pin of the Year
Winner: Lovett FALL Wilson in 4:16
The 149 lbs weight class had plenty of pins, including Gomez over Lovett at Big Tens, Andonian over Gomez at NCAAs. But Lovett over Wilson is the pin that fans loved the most.
After taking the #2 seed Tariq Wilson to his back once, Ridge Lovett did it again and STUCK him. Lovett had quite the impressive tournament and made the NCAA finals. This weight was crazy!
Match of the Year
Winner: Starocci vs Lewis (NCAA Finals)
Carter Starocci and Mekhi Lewis gave fans one of the most thrilling finals matches in history. Each earned a takedown and a pair of escapes to go to overtime.
Starocci won 6-5 in OT after earning more riding time than Lewis. But the exciting part is this is a match we could see for years to come.
Coach of the Year
Winner: Cael Sanderson
For going 5 for 5 in the NCAA Finals, winning the team title, and having a perfect dual meet season, Cael Sanderson is your Coach of the Year.
True Warrior Award
Winner: Austin DeSanto
To the wrestler who gave it his all even amidst adversity, Austin DeSanto showed the heart of a true warrior this season. He got hosed at NCAAs with a #5 seed, but he still couldn’t find a way to overcome RBY.
Nonetheless, he left it all on the mat then battled through the consolations to take 3rd. He finished as a 3X NCAA Placewinner.
Fought ‘Til the End Award
Winner: Jaydin Eierman
Jaydin Eierman fought this whole year up until the bitter end. He gave it ALL he had until his knee gave out. We tip our caps to your phenomenal career, finishing as a 4X All-American.
Winner: Gable Steveson
Only 8 wrestlers finished the season undefeated, but one finished with a higher bonus percentage than the rest (78%). That’s why he earns Fanco Wrestling’s Outstanding Wrestler Award.
Olympic Champ Gable Steveson returned to win his second NCAA title by dominating the field. Watching you compete has been an honor!
Career Achievement Award
Winner: Ryan Deakin
Ryan Deakin went from R16 as a RS-freshman to NCAA Champion as a Senior. He isn’t flashy and doesn’t seek attention; in fact, he is one of the most humble wrestlers in the NCAA.
In 2020 he was the #1 seed, but the tournament was stolen from him. Nevertheless, he used his extra eligibility to compete longer. After taking 3rd in 2021, Deakin finally won an NCAA title in 2022.
We’re glad his hard work finally paid off, which is why we’re awarding the most prestigious Fanco Award, the Career Achievement Award, to Northwestern’s Ryan Deakin.
Thank you for following along with Fanco Wrestling all wrestling season and voting in the 4th annual Fanco Wrestling Awards. Here’s to 2023!