5x NCAA All-American Myles Amine (Photo courtesy of Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
Every year, at the conclusion of the NCAA Tournament, there's a new crop of wrestlers who belong to a club that no one aspires to join. The â€œBest to Never Win a Titleâ€ conversation is a bit of a back-handed compliment. On the one hand, these wrestlers are typically multi-time All-Americans that have just finished incredible careers. But, unfortunately, they came up short of the ultimate goal in college.
The extra year of eligibility has thrown this â€œBest to Never Win a Titleâ€ discussion out of whack because most of the wrestlers on the list below competed in five NCAA seasons, with four national tournaments. A couple actually wrestled in five tournaments. So to compare them against wrestlers who appeared in the typical four NCAA Championships (or the 2020 seniors who only had the opportunity three times) can be difficult.
For now, let's look at the resumes of nine of the top seniors (or super-seniors) from the Class of 2022.
The areas we've noted are their 1) career record; 2) Honors (NCAA/Conference); 3) NCAA seeds; 4) Best Wins; 5) Losses.
Career record speaks for itself. Since our sport is basically judged on the â€œAll that matters is Marchâ€ principle, well, what did they do in March? NCAA seeds help fill in the rest of the year. What did they do leading up to the national tournament? Were they the best wrestler at their respective weight? Wins are easy to understand, but specifically, who they beat. Did they beat a returning champ? Did they beat the eventual champion? Next to their opponent is his finish from that particular year. Losses. There is plenty to be gained from studying losses. Many on his list had a significant chunk of their career defeats in their freshman year. That's normal stuff. One wrestler, in particular, had 52% of his career losses come to two national champions. That's bad luck/timing. Did they lose a lot of top competitors or some random unranked wrestlers?
The wrestlers below have been mentioned in order of appearance, smallest to largest, but in no order, otherwise. They have not been ranked as of yet, but we have merely made the case for each.
Austin DeSanto (Iowa)
Career Record: 103-23
3x NCAA All-American; 4X All-American
2019 - NCAA 5th Place, 2021 - NCAA 3rd Place, 2022 - NCAA 3rd Place
2x Big Ten fourth place, 2x Big Ten runner-up
NCAA Seeds: 2022 #5, 2021 #4, 2020 #6, 2019 #7, 2018 #7
Stevan Micic (2017-18). Micic went on to make the NCAA finals that year.
Jack Mueller (2017-18). Muller was 6th in 2017, Round of 12 in 2018.
Ethan Lizak x2 (2018-19). Lizak already was a 2x AA (2nd, 4th). Took 7th in 2019.
Nick Suriano (2018-19). Suriano was already and NCAA runner-up. National champion in 2019.
Roman Bravo-Young x2 (2018-19). Bravo-Young went on to finish seventh in 2019.
Seth Gross (2019-20). Gross was already a 2x NCAA finalist and 1x champ. Was seeded #2 in 2020.
Korbin Myers (2021). Beat Myers for third place at NCAA's.
Korbin Myers (2021-22). NCAA quarterfinals.
Michael McGee (2021-22). Beat Myers for third place at NCAA's.
7 of 23 came in true freshman season.
RBY, Seth Gross and Daton Fix accounted for all 10 of his losses from 2019-20 through 2022.
During his time at Iowa, only one of his 16 losses came to someone who didn't AA that same year. (Austin Gomez in 2018-19).
Jaydin Eierman (Iowa)
Career Record: 122-18
4x NCAA All-American
2021 - NCAA Runner-Up, 2019 - NCAA 3rd Place, 2018 - NCAA 4th Place, 2017 - NCAA 5th Place
2x Big Ten Finalist, 2021 Big Ten Champion, 3x MAC Champion
NCAA Seeds: 2022 #2, 2021 #1, 2019 #5, 2018 #2, 2017 #8
Joey McKenna (2016-17) Won in the NCAA Round of 12
Matt Kolodzik (2016-17) Went on the finish 7th
Anthony Ashnault (2016-17) Beat Ashnault for 5th Place at NCAA's
Yianni Diakomihalis (2017-18) Only career loss; Before 1st NCAA title
Dean Heil (2017-18) Already had 2 NCAA titles; Lost in Round of 12
Nick Lee (2017-18) NCAA Consolation Semi; Lee took 5th
Chad Red x2 (2021) 2x NCAA All-American; Ended up 6th
Nick Lee (2021) Dual Meet; Lee won NCAA's
7 of 18 came in redshirt freshman season.
2 of 3 losses in 2021-22 came at the NCAA Tournament, while obviously injured.
During his last four years of competition (he had five), five of Eierman's 11 losses came to the eventual national champion.
Responsible for Yianni Diakomihalis' only loss to date
Sebastian Rivera (Rutgers)
Career Record: 116-16
4x NCAA All-American; 5X All-American
2022 - NCAA 3rd Place, 2021 NCAA 4th Place, 2019 NCAA 3rd Place, 2018 NCAA 6th Place
2x Big Ten Champion (2019, 2020), 2021 Big Ten third place
NCAA Seeds: 2022 #3, 2021 #3, 2020 #1, 2019 #1, 2018 #10
Zeke Moisey (2017-18) Past NCAA runner-up
Spencer Lee x2 (2018-19) Midlands and Big Ten Final; Returning and eventual NCAA Champ
Vito Arujau x2 (2018-19) Both at NCAA Tournament; Eventual NCAA 4th place finisher
Pat Glory (2018-19) At NCAA Tournament; Eventual NCAA 6th place finisher
Seth Gross (2019-20) Big Ten Semis; Gross was already a 2x NCAA finalist and 1x champ. Was seeded #2 in 2020.
Roman Bravo-Young (2019-20) Big Ten Finals; RBY was seeded fifth at NCAA's
Chad Red (2021) 2x NCAA All-American; Ended up 6th
Real Woods (2021-22) NCAA 3rd Place match
Grant Willits (2021-22) NCAA Consi Semi
Half of his 16 losses came as a redshirt freshman
First loss in 2018-19 came up at 133 lbs to Stevan Micic
Nine of 16 losses came to wrestlers who either were or went on to become NCAA champions
Won his most recent two matches versus Spencer Lee
Seeded #1 at canceled 2020 national tournament
Stevan Micic (Michigan)
Career Record: 87-19
3x NCAA All-American
2019 - NCAA 3rd Place, 2018 NCAA 2nd Place, 2017 NCAA 4th Place
2018 Big Ten Champion, 2017 Big Ten 3rd Place, 2021 Big Ten 4th Place
NCAA Seeds: 2022 #24, 2019 #2, 2018 #2, 2017 #5
Eric Montoya x2 (2016-17) Returning AA, Eventual sixth-place finisher
Zane Richards x4 (2016-17) Returning AA, Eventual seventh-place finisher
Kaid Brock (2016-17) Eventual fifth-place finisher
Luke Pletcher x3 (2017-18) Eventual fourth place finisher
Luke Pletcher x2 (2018-19) Returning AA, Eventual fourth place finisher
Sebastian Rivera (2018-19) Finished third at 133 lbs, Rivera bumped up
Nick Suriano (2018-19) Returning national finalist; Champion that season
Austin DeSanto (2018-19) Eventual seventh-place finisher
8 of 19 losses came during senior year at 141 lbs
Sophomore/Junior years when a combined 45-4; two top-three finishes
Lost to eventual NCAA champion at first three NCAA Tournaments
Responsible for now-teammate, Nick Suriano's, last collegiate loss
In 2018, avenged both of his regular season losses at the NCAA Tournament
Alex Marinelli (Iowa)
Career Record: 99-13
3x NCAA All-American; 4X All-American
2022 NCAA 5th place, 2019 NCAA 7th place, 2018 NCAA 6th place
4x Big Ten Champion
NCAA Seeds: 2022 #3, 2021 #1, 2020 #1, 2019 #1, 2018 #5
Logan Massa (2017-18) Returning NCAA 3rd place
Vincenzo Joseph (2017-18) Eventual NCAA Champion
Evan Wick x3 (2018-19) Returning NCAA 3rd place, Eventual NCAA 4th place
Vincenzo Joseph (2018-19) Returning NCAA Champion, Eventual NCAA runner-up
Evan Wick (2019-20) Returning 2x AA
David McFadden (2019-20) Returning 3x AA
Vincenzo Joseph (2019-20) Returning 3x NCAA finalist
Ethan Smith (2021) Eventual NCAA 5th place
Cam Amine (2020-21) Eventual NCAA 4th place
Dean Hamiti x2 (2020-21) Eventual NCAA 6th place
Carson Kharchla (2020-21) Eventual NCAA 7th place
Six of 14 losses came in redshirt freshman year
Lost in NCAA quarters to eventual champ in 2019 and 2021
Only had two career dual losses
8 of 14 career losses occurred at the NCAA Tournament
Iowa's first four-time Big Ten champion since Mark Ironside in 1998
Evan Wick (Cal Poly)
Career Record: 108-18
3x NCAA All-American; 4X All-American
2022 NCAA 3rd place, 2019 NCAA 4th place, 2018 NCAA 3rd Place
2022 Pac-12 Champion, 2x Big Ten 4th place
NCAA Seeds: 2022 #1, 2020 #8, 2019 #4, 2018 #10
Logan Massa x2 (2017-18) Returning NCAA third-place
Alex Marinelli (2017-18) In the NCAA third-place bout
Chance Marsteller (2018-19) Split matches at the 2019 NCAA Tournament. Marsteller finished third.
Shane Griffith x3 (2021-22) Returning NCAA champion, eventual NCAA runner-Up
Cam Amine (2021-22) In the NCAA 3rd place match
Seven of 18 career losses came as a redshirt freshman
2-4 career vs. Alex Marinelli (Both wins came at the NCAA Tournament)
Hayden Hidlay (NC State)
Career Record: 110-11
4x NCAA All-American; 5x All-American
2022 NCAA 3rd place, 2021 NCAA 5th place, 2019 NCAA 4th Place, 2018 NCAA Runner-Up
4x ACC Champion
NCAA Seeds: 2022 #4, 2021 #2, 2020 #2, 2019 #5, 2018 #1
Joey Lavallee (2017-18) Returning NCAA finalist
Micah Jordan (2017-18) Eventual NCAA 6th
Tyler Berger (2017-18) Eventual NCAA 3rd
Alec Pantaleo (2017-18) Eventual NCAA 5th
Ryan Deakin (2018-19) NCAA 5th place bout
Brayton Lee (2021) NCAA 5th place bout
Mekhi Lewis (2021-22) Past NCAA Champ; Eventual NCAA finalist
Michael Kemerer x2 (2021-22) NCAA Quarters and Third Place bout
Dustin Plott (2021-22) NCAA consi semis
First career loss was in 2018 NCAA finals
Lost to eventual NCAA champion in each of his four NCAA Tournaments
Only 4 of 11 losses came during the regular season
Made it to the NCAA semifinals every year of his career
Michael Kemerer (Iowa)
Career Record: 100-12
4x NCAA All-American; 5x All-American
2022 NCAA 4th place, 2021 NCAA 2nd, 2018 NCAA 4th, 2017 NCAA 3rd
2021 Big Ten Champion, 3x Big Ten finalist
NCAA Seeds: 2022 #5, 2021 #1, 2020 #2, 2018 #6, 2017 #2
Tyler Berger x3 (2016-17) Eventual NCAA fifth place finisher
Joe Smith x2 (2016-17) Dual and NCAA third-place match
Micah Jordan x2 (2017-18) Eventual NCAA sixth place finisher
Alec Pantaleo (2017-18) NCAA consi semis
Mark Hall (2019-20) Three-time NCAA finalist and past champion
Logan Massa (2021) Eventual NCAA fifth place finisher
Carter Starocci (2021) Eventual NCAA Champion
Bernie Truax (2021) Eventual NCAA fourth place finisher
Dustin Plott (2021-22) Eventual NCAA sixth place finisher
Logan Massa (2021-22) NCAA consi semi
Mike Labriola (2021-22) Eventual NCAA seventh place finisher
6 of 11 career losses are to Penn State wrestlers (Jason Nolf x3, Hall, Starocci x2)
Never lost to a non-All American
Myles Amine (Michigan)
Career Record: 112-21
5x NCAA All-American
2022 NCAA 2nd, 2021 NCAA 3rd, 2019 NCAA 3rd, 2018 NCAA 3rd, 2017 NCAA 4th
2x Big Ten Champion, 4x Big Ten finalist
NCAA Seeds: 2022 #1, 2021 #1, 2019 #4, 2018 #5, 2017 #9
Zac Brunson (2016-17) Eventual NCAA sixth place
Brian Realbuto (2016-17) NCAA Consi Semi; past national finalist
Bo Jordan x3 (2017-18) 4x AA and past national finalist
Daniel Lewis (2017-18) NCAA third place match
Daniel Lewis x2 (2018-19) 4x AA
Jordan Kutler x2 (2018-19) eventual NCAA seventh
Mikey Labriola (2018-19) eventual NCAA sixth
Jacob Warner (2021) eventual and returning NCAA fourth
Rocky Elam (2021) eventual NCAA fifth place
Kaleb Romero x2 (2021-22) eventual NCAA sixth place
Aaron Brooks (2021-22) eventual and returning NCAA champion
Bernie Truax (2021-22) eventual and returning NCAA fourth place
14 of 21 career losses came in first two years
11 of his 21 career losses came to Zahd Valencia x6 and Mark Hall x6 (Amine did defeat Hall who competed as a post-grad this year at the Matmen Open).
Lost to the eventual NCAA champion in four of his five NCAA tournaments
Made the NCAA semis final four years of college
Stopped Aaron Brooks' 37-match winning streak