Gabe Dean could be on his way to a 3rd NCAA Title and possibly in the Hodge discussion, entering his senior season with a record of 117-6. The Lowell, Michigan product is on his way to having a collegiate career very few could say they had better. Of course, there is still work to do this season in what many are saying will be the toughest bracket in March. However, if Gabe Dean gets the job done is he the greatest collegiate wrestler ever from the state of Michigan?
Editor's (ha....like we have an editor) Note: This is based solely off of collegiate accolades. Kevin Jackson was an Olympic Gold medalist from Lansing Eastern, but never an NCAA champion.
Heavyweight Jimmy Jackson was our big guy for the 1976 Olympics at just 20-years old after winning his first of three NCAA Championships at Oklahoma State. A graduate of Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills, the big guy is listed as an Olympian at 6'5" and 331 lbs. Intermat's article in 2007 listed him at 6'6" 370 lbs, taking advantage of the days of the unlimited heavyweight.
Mark Churella Sr was a 3-time state champ out of Farmington before then being a 3-time NCAA Champ for Michigan from 1977-79. Churella compiled a record of 132–13 and was named NCAA Most Outstanding Wrestler in 1978. He went on to be the Head Coach at UNLV from 1979-1984 establishing the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational.
Greg Johnson was the first ever 3-time Big Ten champion and also a 3-time NCAA Champion for Michigan State after graduating from Lansing Everett High School. He finished with a record of 54-5-2. He was the Head Coach at Illinois from 1978-1983 before becoming Australia's coach through the mid-80's.
Brent Metcalf was a 4-time State Champ for Davison High School tallying a 228-0 record. He was a 2-time NCAA Champion with another infamous finals appearance. His collegiate record quickly disrupts the GOAT conversation because he lost a year when he followed coach Tom Brands from Virginia Tech to Iowa. He ended his career with a record of 108-3, but having "just" two NCAA & Big Ten championships is a factor.
So there are the four prime candidates, again just based off college accolades. If Gabe Dean wins this year, he was 3rd as a freshman before knocking out three NCAA titles. That's incredible to think of all the wrestlers that grew up in Michigan, we may be watching the senior season of the best ever. That's certainly something to enjoy.