The U17 World Championships have come and gone and we have a new crop of world medalists. After looking at the newly minted medalists and the list of previous U17 world medal winners, one thing that stands out is that the list is incredibly impressive.
That begs the question, “Does success at the world level correlate to success in college?” Collegiate wrestling is slightly different since it’s folkstyle opposed to freestyle (or Greco-Roman) on the international scene. Also, plenty of wrestlers improve or regress during their time in college, so success is not guaranteed for an elite 17-year-old.
With that being said, there’s an incredible correlation between winning a U17 world medal in freestyle and winning at the collegiate level. Of the 27 different wrestlers who have won U17/Cadet world medals from 2011-2018, only three have not qualified for the NCAA Tournament at least once. Digging deeper into those figures, Aaron Pico is the obvious outlier, as he passed over collegiate wrestling for a shot at MMA fame. Pico even came back to wrestling and made the finals of the 2016 Olympic Team Trials. Needless to say, he likely would have done a lot of winning in college. Of those other two, Mason Manville made a Greco world team while in college and Kurt McHenry still has some eligibility remaining.
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