The Top 22 NCAA Careers From The Class of 2017
We tallied the results and found 22 seniors who achieved All-American status once, 14 who reached the podium twice, six with three All-American honors, and four wrestlers joined the exclusive four-timers club.
Ranked by the entirely unscientific method of subjective opinion, here are the best careers of the class of 2017.
The Champs1) J'den Cox, Missouri: (NCAA finishes) 1, 5, 1, 1
The Olympic bronze medalist and Missouri native got to close out his magnificent collegiate career on home turf. Cox is also the first wrestler to win at least three NCAA titles without the benefit of a redshirt season since Kyle Dake. Cox turned 22 just two weeks before the 2017 tournament.
2) Gabe Dean, Cornell: 3, 1, 1, 2
A controversial flip of the leg by Bo Nickal to a secure a takedown in the NCAA finals is perhaps all that kept Dean from the top spot on this list. Four top three finishes and two titles is still good for one of the best careers in Cornell history (at least since that Dake guy, anyway) and the second best of this class.
What the Nickal kick-flip in the video below:
3) Cory Clark, Iowa: 5, 2, 2, 1
You'd have to be a pretty hardcore Iowa hater not to appreciate Clark breaking through and winning his first NCAA title on this third consecutive trip to the finals. That Clark did it with his left shoulder in a brace and having missed part of the season due to the injury only made the gritty victory that much more awe-inspiring.
The Four-Timer4) Isaac Jordan, Wisconsin: 7, 7, 2, 4
There are only a handful of four-time AAs every year, and Jordan joins the club while battling through a 165-pound division that got demonstrably tougher from the year before. The last Badger to climb the podium four times without winning a title was Tyler Graff, from the class of 2014.
The Elite5) Thomas Gilman, Iowa: 4, 2, 3
6) Lavion Mayes, Missouri: R16, 7, 3, 2
7) TJ Dudley, Nebraska: R24, 8, 2, 3
8) Brian Realbuto, Cornell: 6, 2, R32, 5
The only thing that stopped Gilman from being a four-timer was his Hawkeyes teammates his freshman year, Cory Clark and Tony Ramos. Three top four finishes slots him as the best of the elite three-timers.
Credit Missouri's Brian Smith and the rest of the coaching staff for guiding the decidedly non-blue-chip recruit Lavion Mayes to an improved NCAA finish four years in a row and the sixth-best career in his class.
Dudley finishes as the most decorated South Carolina native in NCAA history (as far as we can tell), and Brian Realbuto wins the prize for best career split between two non-consecutive weight classes (157 and 174).
The 'I Got Your Back-ers'9) Brett Pfarr, Minnesota: DNC, R32, 3, 2
10) Connor Medbery, Wisconsin: R24, R12, 4, 2
11) Ty Walz, Virginia Tech: R24, 7, 4, 4
These three large gentleman are all guys you definitely want getting your back, should you find yourself in some kind of altercation. Pfarr cracks the top 10 with "only" two All-American honors, but they are very high finishes following dominant seasons.
Medbery took an Olympic gap year in between his fourth- and second-place finishes and was untouchable in his senior campaign except for matches against world champion Kyle Snyder.
The Hokies lose Walz's three NCAA placements and his intimidating physique after a stellar career in Blacksburg, Virginia.
The One-Hit Wonder12) George DiCamillo, Virginia: R12, R12, R12, 2
The category title should be read with tongue firmly in cheek. Three bloodround finishes is nothing to sneeze at, and DiCam earned the 12 spot by bumping up a weight his senior year and making the NCAA finals in a ferocious 141-pound division.
DiCamillo gets the AA monkey off his back with a win in the NCAA quarterfinals in the video below:
The Best of the Rest13) Joey Dance, Virginia Tech: 4, R12, R24, 5
14) Michael Kroells, Minnesota: DNC, 8, 7, 7
15) Eric Montoya, Nebraska: R32, R12, 5, 6
16) Sam Brooks, Iowa: DNC, R12, 8, 4
17) Zane Richards, Illinois: R16, R24, 4, 7
18) Nolan Boyd, Oklahoma State: R32, R24, 4, 6
19) Dylan Palacio, Cornell: R12, R24, 4, 6
20) Kyle Crutchmer, Oklahoma State: DNC, 5, DNC, 7
21) Conor Youtsey, Michigan: R24, 6, 5, R32
22) Nate Jackson, Indiana: DNC, R16, 5, 8
Very little separates the rest of our top 22. Kroells finished as an All-American an impressive three times but never climbed higher than seventh place, allowing four-time qualifier and two time All-American Joey Dance to sneak ahead of him on the list, with New Mexico's Eric Montoya right behind him.
Sammy Brooks' yearly improvement just barely gives him the nod over equally impressive stats from Zane Richards and Nolan Boyd. Crutchmer might have been ranked higher if it weren't for injuries -- likewise for Youtsey but for his semi-retirement senior year. I had to cheat and add Youtsey and Nate Jackson to the top 20ish, to make sure everyone with two All-American honors and at least one top five finish made the list (and to satisfy my OCD).
The Rest of the BestAnthony Collica, Oklahoma State: R12, R12, 4, R24
Earl Hall, Iowa State: 6, R32, 6, R24
Dylan Peters, Northern Iowa: 6, R32, 6, R24
Mitch Minotti, Lehigh: 6, 8, DNC, DNC
Aaron Studebaker, Nebraska: DNC, R12, R12, 5
Casey Kent, Penn: R32, DNC, 4, R24
Jack Dechow, Old Dominion: 4, R16, R16, R12
Jimmy Gulibon, Penn State: R24, 5, R16, R12
Zac Brunson, Illinois: R16, R12, R16, 6
Lelund Weatherspoon, Iowa State: R24, R24, 6, R24
We conclude our list with honorable mentions for every senior who notched at least one top six finish at the NCAAs.
All in all, quite the incredible collection of worthies if you ask me.
Think we've left anyone out or got something wrong? It's quite possible. Let us know!