Photo: Life Athletics

Lanham named NAIA Men's Wrestler of the Year by The Open Mat

The Open Mat presents awards annually in three categories for each division of college wrestling at the conclusion of the season. Awards are presented for Freshman of the Year, Coach of the Year and Wrestler of the Year.

Zane Lanham of Life University has been named The Open Mat's 2024 NAIA Men's Wrestler of the Year.

There were many strong candidates for the award this year, but Lanham's statistical dominance at 285 pounds made him the winner of the award. Lanham compiled a 32-2 record this season, with his only losses coming to Division I competition at the Southeast Open to start the season.

Of his 32 wins, nine came by pin and 10 by technical fall. With only six of his wins coming by decision, Lanham had a bonus rate over 80%. One of his highlight wins this season came over NCAA Division II national finalist Juan Edmond-Holmes, which helped Life defeat NCAA Division II national runner-up Lander in a dual meet.

Lanham's dominance came after moving up a weight class from 197 pounds to 285 pounds this season. He won the Appalachian Athletic Conference title by defeating All-American Gabe Jacobs of Southeastern.

At the 2024 NAIA Men's Wrestling National Championships, Lanham he defeated multiple-time All-American K.C. Buday of Providence in the semifinals. He then defeated Grand View's Greg Hagan, the returning national champion and last year's NAIA Men's Wrestler of the Wrestler, to secure the national championship.