Chapman’s All-Time Top-25 College Wrestling moments

Updated: December 1, 2021

Photo: Gray Simons (left) ended his Lock Haven career with four NAIA titles and three NCAA championships. Oklahoma State’s Pat Smith (right) became the first four-time NCAA champ in 1994 after the Cowboy also won titles in 1990, 1991 and 1992 … all at 158 pounds.

By Mike Chapman

As some readers may know from a few of my previous 336 columns over the past 32 years, I like lists. I enjoy both reading them and creating them.

So, as the collegiate wrestling season takes off, I decided to form a list about some of the top highlights in college wrestling history. Please note that I said college – and not including freestyle and Greco-Roman (though you will find a couple of notable exceptions, for reasons I explain).

Mike Chapman’s column appeared in the latest issue of WIN Magazine. Click on the image or call 888-305-0606 to subscribe to the magazine.

As I’ve said several times in the past, John Smith’s mark of six straight gold medals in Olympic/World competition is what I consider the most outstanding American wrestling record.

But on the college scene, there are some very remarkable moments, as well.

Here then is my list of 25 very important collegiate milestones:

  1. Gray Simons of Lock Haven winning seven collegiate national titles, four in the NAIA and three in the NCAA (and six O.W. awards as well), ending his career in 1962.
  2. Pat Smith of Oklahoma State becoming the first-ever four-time Division I NCAA champion, in 1994.
  3. One family winning nine NCAA Division I titles, Ed Perry taking three for Oklahoma State (ending in 1935), and then coaching his two sons, Hugh and Ed, to three each at the University of Pittsburgh. Hugh’s last title came in 1954 and Ed’s last in 1957, an amazing legacy that will probably never be matched.
  4. Cael Sanderson’s 159-0 consecutive wins and four NCAA titles, four O.W. awards at the Division I level (and claiming the Dan Hodge Trophy three times) while competing for Iowa State, his last season being 2002
  5. David “Buddy” Arndt of Oklahoma State winning NCAA titles on both sides of World War II, the first ones in 1941 and ‘42 and the third in 1946, when the tournament was reinstated after a three-year hiatus for the war (during which time Arndt flew over 100 combat missions as a fighter pilot).
  6. Carlton Haselrig of Pitt-Johnston earning six NCAA titles, three each in Divisions I and II, the last two in 1989.
  7. Kyle Dake winning four Division I titles for Cornell at four different weights without a redshirt season, ending in 2013.
  8. The 15 NCAA team championships by Dan Gable as Iowa’s head coach, the last in 1997.
  9. The 21 straight Big Ten team crowns by Gable, the last in 1997.
  10. Dale Thomas posting an NCAA record 616 dual-meet victories as the head coach at Oregon State, retiring in 1990 (and then Pat Pecora coaching Pitt-Johnston to 617 dual wins by 2020, in competition against all divisions, including NAIA and junior colleges).                                          To read the remainder of the Chapman column on the Top-25 Greatest College Wrestling Moments, subscribe to WIN in print or digitally with Discount/Promo Code November to start your subscription with the issue containing the article. 

(Mike Chapman is the founder of WIN Magazine, the Dan Hodge Trophy, the National Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum, author of 30 books and was named to the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2007.)