Penn State Remains No. 2 in Learfield Directors' Cup
March 26, 2018
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Powered by the wrestling team’s seventh NCAA Championship in the past eight years, Penn State Athletics is holding onto the No. 2 spot in the Learfield Directors’ Cup standings.
In the first Directors’ Cup winter sports compilation, Penn State remained No. 2, where it finished last fall. The Nittany Lions improved from the No. 4 spot in the 2016-17 initial winter rankings. Penn State has an opportunity to earn its 12th consecutive Top 5 finish in the Learfield Directors’ Cup final winter standings.
Led by four national champions, the Penn State wrestling team captured its third consecutive and seventh NCAA title in the past eight years. Directed by Coach Cael Sanderson, the Nittany Lions scored 141.5 points to move past runner-up Ohio State in the final session, and earn 100 Directors’ Cup points.
Zain Retherford captured his third consecutive 149-pound crown, finishing the season 31-0 and his career by winning a school record 94 consecutive matches. Jason Nolf (26-1) won the 157-pound title, and was joined by Vincenzo Joseph (165; 25-2) and Bo Nickal (184; 31-0) as the Nittany Lions’ national champions, all for the second consecutive year. Named the NCAA Championships’ Outstanding Wrestler, Nickal’s pin in his championship bout sealed the NCAA team title for the Nittany Lions.
Boosted by national champion David Lucas, the Penn State men’s track and field team finished in a tie for 10th place at the NCAA Championships to earn 66.75 Directors’ Cup. A sophomore, Lucas delivered a school record effort to win the NCAA weight throw title, becoming Penn State’s first men’s track and field indoor national champion since 1990. Directed by Coach John Gondak, the men’s and women’s track and field squads combined to earn 98.75 Directors’ Cup points.
Junior Ally McHugh earned the silver medal in the 1650 freestyle at the NCAA Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships to become the program’s highest NCAA finisher all-time. McHugh finished second to Olympic gold medalist Katie Ledecky and became the sixth and eighth fastest performer all-time in the American and International record books, respectively. Guided by Coach Tim Murphy, the women’s swimming and diving team added 49 points to Penn State’s Directors’ Cup total.
Stanford leads the Directors’ Cup and is followed by Penn State (629.75), Wisconsin (585), USC (507), Michigan (503), North Carolina State (494.5), Virginia Tech (430.5) UCLA (425), Texas (423.5) and Ohio State (416).
The next Directors’ Cup update will be in early April. Penn State is among only nine institutions nationwide to have finished in the Top 25 in all 24 Learfield Directors' Cup final standings.
In earning the No. 2 ranking last fall, the Nittany Lions posted their 11th consecutive Top 10 fall finish. Penn State and Stanford are the nation’s only institutions to place in the Top 10 in the final fall Directors’ Cup standings in each of the past 11 years.
Penn State has one of the nation’s most comprehensive and successful athletic programs, featuring 800 student-athletes across 31 varsity programs (16 men’s, 15 women’s). Penn State student-athletes have an NCAA Graduation Success Rate (GSR) of 90 percent, which ties the Nittany Lions’ all-time high. Nine teams earned a 100 percent GSR in the NCAA’s November 2017 report. The Nittany Lions rank No. 4 among all Division I schools with 200 CoSIDA Academic All-Americans all-time, including Emily Ogle (women’s soccer) and Haleigh Washington (women’s volleyball) during the 2017 fall semester.
Penn State’s 50 NCAA Championships all-time (78 national championships overall) rank No. 5 among all NCAA Division I programs and are the highest total of any college or university east of the Mississippi River. Penn State’s 31 NCAA titles since 1992-93 lead all Big Ten Conference institutions. The Nittany Lions have won 107 Big Ten championships or tournament titles since capturing their first crown in 1992-93, including titles in women’s soccer, women’s volleyball and wrestling so far in 2017-18.