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Tony Ramos, Thomas Gilman

Who has Produced the Most MFS World/Olympic Team Members in the Last 10 Years?

Photo by Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com

With the 2017 men’s freestyle world team set, we now know that six different colleges are represented with Nebraska and Ohio State both sending a pair of wrestlers to Paris. With the international success of alums often cited as a recruiting advantage at the NCAA level, we thought we’d take a look at which colleges are producing the most world and Olympic team members over the last 10 years. Given the ever-shifting landscape of college wrestling, we also looked at the last 10 years in two five year increments to see if the data looked much different. Here is what we found.

School # of Teams # of Wrestlers
Iowa 11 6
Ohio State 10 4
Nebraska 10 2
Iowa State 7 4
Nebraska-Kearney 6 1
Oklahoma State 4 4
Missouri 4 3
Northwestern 4 1
Penn State 3 3
Oklahoma 3 3
Illinois 1 1
Indiana 1 1
Lehigh 1 1
NC State 1 1
Pittsburgh 1 1
Arizona State 1 1
Edinboro 1 1
Michigan 1 1
Michigan State 1 1
Minnesota 1 1
Nebraska-Omaha 1 1
None 1 1

Iowa remains on top thanks to Thomas Gilman, though had Tony Ramos taken the spot instead they would have ended up with 11 anyway. Ohio State and Nebraska continue to close the gap, though with Kyle Snyder being just 21 it may only be a matter of time before the Buckeyes take the top spot. Jordan Burroughs’ seventh world team pushed him past Tervel Dlagnev (Nebraska-Kearney) for the most teams of anyone in the last 10 years. Burroughs needs to make one more team to crack the top five all-time. It is interesting to note that the top three here are also the top three over the past five years and it is a clear lead there as well.

School # of Teams # of Wrestlers
Ohio State 8 4
Nebraska 8 2
Iowa 7 4
Missouri 3 2
Penn State 3 3
Nebraska-Kearney 3 1
Illinois 1 1
Indiana 1 1
Iowa State 1 1
Lehigh 1 1
NC State 1 1
Northwestern 1 1
Pittsburgh 1 1

With David Taylor still having yet to make a team, Ed Ruth only making one, and the current crop of Nittany Lions just starting to compete for spots, Penn State is just starting to see the results of their NCAA rise. With Zain Retherford making his first team, Jason Nolf, Bo Nickal, Mark Hall, and Nick Suriano all in the pipeline, expect them to continue adding to their totals. Still, Taylor, in particular, is a cautionary tale about how hard it can be to make these teams if you get stuck in the wrong situation. Ohio State has put two wrestlers on the team in four of the last five years, though they were shut out in 2014. Oklahoma State is notably absent after having their long streak of putting athletes on the Olympic team was snapped in 2016. With Alex Dieringer sitting behind Kyle Dake and Burroughs, it may be a while before we see a Cowboy back on a world team.

School # of Teams # of Wrestlers
Iowa State 6 4
Iowa 4 3
Oklahoma State 4 4
Oklahoma 3 3
Northwestern 3 1
Nebraska-Kearney 3 1
Nebraska 2 1
Ohio State 2 2
Arizona State 1 1
Edinboro 1 1
Michigan 1 1
Michigan State 1 1
Minnesota 1 1
Missouri 1 1
None 1 1
Nebraska-Omaha 1 1

Two wrestlers who have since moved to Penn State helped Iowa State stand atop the list from 2008-2012. Jake Varner made the team three times himself and Cael Sanderson’s come back in 2011 boosted the Cyclones. The spots were much more spread out during this half of the last 10 years with 15 schools being represented as compared to 13 from 2013-2017. Add in Henry Cejudo who didn’t wrestle in college and there are 16 different groups of wrestlers who made a team in the early half of the data. No one made more than three teams in that five-year run with Varner, Jake Herbert, and Dlagnev all doing that. In the more recent half, Burroughs made five teams with Brent Metcalf, James Green, Kyle Snyder, and Dlagnev again making three apiece. Iowa was the only team to was the only school to be found in the top five of both lists which certainly explains their presence at the top of all 10 years combined.

So, what does it all mean? When it comes to world and Olympic teams, one all-time great wrestler can lift their school. Making judgments based on this data alone is tough based on that fact, but there are plenty of notable findings. That Penn State’s rise has been delayed probably speaks more to timing than anything, though if they aren’t higher five years from now questions should be asked. Oklahoma State’s dive over the last five years coincides with a tough time, relatively, in their history. Though they’ve rebounded in the past several years, it can take time for this data to catch up. With Jordan Oliver never making a team, the five-year drought makes sense. Iowa’s consistency is a testament to how many potential world team members they keep producing. With six different wrestlers getting through, more than anyone else, the Hawkeyes haven’t had to rely on their one great star to carry the banner.

With the average age of those winning international wrestling titles dropping, it is more important than ever for our college programs to be well equipped to prepare the best for immediate international success. Four of the top five schools at this year’s NCAA tournament had a wrestler on their team that made the 2017 world team over the weekend. With our Cadet and Junior teams experiencing more success, more elite recruits than ever will be eying a gold medal during their international career, rather than after it. Keep a close eye on these statistics. They may foretell the winners of the recruiting battles to come.

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