The 2016 d3wrestle.com Wrestler of the Year is Riley Lefever of Wabash. Lefever put together a dominant season, running the table against DIII competition for the third year in a row. The junior from Fort Wayne, Indiana, won his third consecutive NCAA Championship at 184 lbs. and was the only wrestler in the tournament to score bonus points in every match, pinning his first two opponents before putting up major decisions against 3rd place finisher AJ Kowal in the semifinals and runner-up Josh Thomson in the finals.
Lefever turned heads to kick off the season when he won the Eastern Michigan Open and defeated returning Division I 5th place finisher Kenny Courts of Ohio State in the semifinals. He rolled from there, winning titles at Concordia, Little State, North Central, John Summa, and Mid States. He then dominated the Midwest Regional with two pins and tech fall to earn his third trip to the NCAA Championships.
Lefever finished the year 44-0 with 23 falls and 10 tech falls. He won the NCAA Most Dominant award for most team points per match and finished second for most falls in the least time in DIII for the year. He was named the Outstanding Wrestler at the NCAA Championship and helped lead the Little Giants to a fourth place team finish.
Lefever is now a three time NCAA champion with a career record of 119-3. Last summer, he finished third in both the UWW Junior National Freestyle Championships and the UWW Junior World Team Trials challenge tournament at 84kg. He is currently registered to compete in tomorrow’s Last Chance Olympic Trials Qualifier at 86kg. Next season, Lefever will return with a chance to become the second ever four time NCAA Division III champion.
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