The 2017 d3wrestle.com Wrestler of the Year is Riley Lefever of Wabash College. Lefever also won the 2016 version of the award, and his season this year proved he deserved to win it again. He put a cap on an outstanding career with a fall in the 197 lbs. NCAA finals, scoring bonus points in every match at the championships for the second year in a row. The win made him the second wrestler to ever win four NCAA Division III Championships. He finished the season with a 39-3 record and 25 falls. He was the champion of the Harold Nichols Open, Indiana Little State, Spartan Mat Classic, John Summa Invitational, Mid-States Invitational, Midwest Regional, and NCAA Championships. He was named Outstanding Wrestler at the Little State, Spartan Mat Classic, Midwest Region, and NCAA Championships. He also finished 2nd at the Eastern Michigan Open, losing only to the eventual 3rd place finisher at the NCAA Division I Championships. During the year, he defeated the eventual 5th place finisher at the DI championships. Finally, he earned the NCAA’s Most Dominant award, scoring an average of 5.79 team points per match against Division III competition.
Lefever compiled a career record of 158-6 with 92 falls. He was 129-0 against Division III competition with 73 falls and 18 tech falls. He won NCAA championships at 184 lbs. in 2014, 2015, and 2016 before moving up to 197 lbs. for his senior year. 2017 marked the third year in a row that he was named the Most Dominant wrestler in Division III. In 2014, Lefever was named the d3wrestle.com Freshman of the Year after an undefeated opening campaign that proved to be a harbinger of the three years to follow.
Lefever was an Indiana state runner-up and a Junior National freestyle runner-up before coming to Wabash. He continued wrestle freestyle in college, placing 5th at the 2016 University Nationals and placing 3rd at both the 2015 UWW Junior Nationals and UWW Junior World Team Trials. He is from Fort Wayne, Indiana, and two of his older brothers, Reece and Conner, also wrestled at Wabash with Conner winning the 2015 NCAA Championship at 174 lbs. and Reece becoming the first wrestler ever for the Little Giants to become an All-American in three consecutive seasons. Riley is an English major and History minor, and he recently became a three time NWCA Scholar All-American.
After Lefever won his fourth title, Wabash head coach Brian Anderson had this to say, “It was phenomenal, what a wonderful way to go out, and to boost our team into third place is unbelievable. That’s Riley’s humble way there. He’s always team first, and he goes out and does everything possible to help our team. He’s a seasoned veteran. He’s been on that stage three times before tonight and it shows. He keeps comfortable. His dominance doesn’t surprise me because his mindset of constantly trying to score points just wears people down to the point where the points keep coming easier and easier as the match goes. The kid is a complete game changer, a program changer. He has been a huge part of taking Wabash College wrestling to the level we’re at now, an expectation to come home with a team trophy.” Congratulations to Riley Lefever, the 2017 d3wrestle.com Wrestler of the Year.
Previous Wrestlers of the Year
2016 – Riley Lefever, Wabash
2015 – Mike Fuenffinger, Augsburg
2014 – Nazar Kulchytskyy, Oshkosh
2013 – Nazar Kulchytskyy, Oshkosh
2012 – Byron Tate, Wartburg
2011 – Minga Batsukh, St. John’s
2010 – Clayton Rush, Coe