Kansas native Wyatt Hendrickson finishes 3rd at the NCAA Division 1 Tournament


KWCA/Rylee Hackman | 3/28/2024

PHOTO CREDIT: Rylee Hackmann

Kansas native Wyatt Hendrickson finishes 3rd at the NCAA Division 1 Tournament
Written by Rylee Hackmann/RH Sports Media

Former Newton wrestler Wyatt Hendrickson finishes out his collegiate wrestling career with a 3rd place finish at the NCAA Division 1 wrestling tournament in Kansas City, Missouri this past weekend. Hendrickson was 2x State Champion, and 3x State Finalist for Newton before he moved on to wrestle collegiately for the Air Force Academy.

Going into the tournament Hendrickson was the #3 seed in the HWT division and he went 5-1 with 2 decisions, 2 major decisions, and 1 fall earning himself all-American status and on the podium for third place. He was also named NCAA’s wrestler with the most falls in a season for the third straight year and for the second straight year he was named NCAA’s most dominant wrestler. Hendrickson finished the season with a record of 27-2 and an overall collegiate career record of 103-11 and a total of 58 career falls.

Throughout Hendrickson’s college wrestling career, he finished second at the Big 12 Championships this season. In his Junior year, he finished in third place at the NCAA Division 1 Championships and first place at the Big 12 Championships ending the season with a 31-2 record. In his Sophomore year he DNP at the NCAA Championships but he placed first at the Big 12 Championships and had a season record of 26-2. To open up Hendrickson’s collegiate wrestling career he placed third at the Big 12 Championships and had an incredible championship tournament going 3-2 with one win shy of becoming an All-American status as a freshman.

Additionally, Kansas natives Jared Simma (University of Northern Iowa) & Jace Koelzer (University of Oklahoma) also competed at the NCAA Division 1 Wrestling tournament but came up short of placing.

Jared Simma wrestled for Saint Thomas Aquinas HS where he was a 4x high school state finalist winning state in 2020 & 2021 and was runner up in 2018 & 2019. He finished his high school career with a record of 174-13 with 125 of his wins being falls. Simma also broke Kansas's high school wrestling records with the most team points & total season wins with 52 wins in 2019.

Simma went 2-2 at the championship with his 2 wins by decisions knocking out the #5 seed & the #21 seed in the tournament but he fell short of receiving All-American Status as he lost in the blood round of the tournament. He finished his sophomore year at UNI with a record of 17-11.

Jace Koelzer wrestled for Olathe South HS. He was a 2x High School State Champion for Olathe South in 2017 & 2018. Before transferring to the University of Oklahoma he wrestled for the University of Northern Colorado for 4 years. Koelzer finished his freshman year as a starter at 125 lbs for Northern Colorado at the Big 12 Championships. In his Sophomore year, he finished in eighth place at the Big 12 Championships, and as a Redshirt Junior for Northern Colorado, he qualified for the NCAA championships where he placed sixth and finished the season with a record of 14-11.

Competing for the University of Oklahoma this season, Koelzer received an at-large bid to compete in this year's NCAA tournament, unfortunately, he went 0-2 in the championships.

While we have three Kansas wrestlers who had the opportunity to compete in the tournament, two Kansas natives had the opportunity to coach and guide a combined total of five wrestlers to All-American status this past weekend.

Former wrestler for Goddard High School & KWCA Hall of Famer, Tyler Caldwell is an assistant coach at Oklahoma State. He helped lead Oklahoma State to two NCAA finalists, and one fifth-place finisher this past weekend. Caldwell has been with the Cowboys for the last eight seasons and served as the program’s recruiting coordinator for the last seven seasons and this was his first season as an assistant coach.

A De Soto Native, Neil Erisman helped start the wrestling program at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock, a little over five years ago. This past weekend the team had a historical run at the NCAA Division 1 tournament as they received for the first time in program history two All-Americans. Nasir Bailey (133 lbs) placed fourth and Stephen Little (197) placed seventh.

Before coming to Little Rock, Erisman was a graduate assistant for Oklahoma State for two years, and an assistant coach at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill for four years before moving to be the head coach at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock back in 2018. Erisman was voted on by his peers at the tournament for NWCA Coach of the Year & Coach of the Tournament.

The future is bright for the Kansas wrestlers competing in the NCAA Division 1 tournament. Six wrestlers signed to compete at the Division 1 level including one female wrestler.

- Dillion Cooper of Mill Valley: University of Arkansas- Little Rock
- Colin McAlister of Mill Valley: University of Nebraska
- Ezekiel Witt of Manhattan: North Dakota State University
- Tucker Cell of Abilene: Gardner Webb University
- Owen Eck of Andale: University of Oklahoma
- Nicole Redmond of Olathe South: Lindenwood University

We can’t wait to see where these wrestlers take them in their collegiate careers.