So far in 2017, 516 U.S. athletes took home a world cup or world championship medals in their respective sports. Of those 516 athletes, more than 55 percent built the foundation of their success in the ranks of college athletics, using their time as student-athletes to propel themselves to greater heights.
Every swimming, diving, triathlon, water polo, wrestling, biathlon and ice hockey athlete that medaled this year competed collegiately. In addition, more than 92 percent of track and field, rowing, volleyball and bobsled medalists were at one point collegiate athletes. Of the 30 sports in which the U.S. had medalists, 22 had a collegiate athlete represented on the podium.
With well over 100 different colleges and universities contributing to U.S. medals in the past year, the impact of the collegiate athletics system is evident on the 2017 international circuit.
Caeleb Dressel, Swimming, University of Florida
Caeleb Dressel dominated the international swimming stage at the 2017 FINA World Championships after winning seven gold medals, tying Michael Phelps’ record from 2007. The Green Cove Springs, Florida, native picked up victories in the 50-meter freestyle, 100 free, 100 butterfly, 400 free relay, 400 medley relay, 400 mixed free relay and 400 mixed medley relay. On July 29, he became the first swimmer to win three world titles in one day.
A swimmer at the University of Florida, Dressel is a three-time NCAA champion in the 50 free (2015, 2016, 2017), a two-time NCAA champion in the 100 free (2016, 2017) and the 2017 NCAA champion in the 100 fly. The senior has amassed 21 All-American selections in his three years in Gainesville and was named SEC Male Swimmer of the Year in both 2016 and 2017.
Emma Coburn (CU Boulder) and Courtney Frerichs (University of New Mexico), Track and Field
Emma Coburn and Courtney Frerichs made Team USA history this summer, taking first and second in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the 2017 IAAF World Championships. Coburn’s victory marked the first time an American woman finished atop the podium in steeplechase at either the world championships or Olympic Games and the duo’s victories marked the first time Americans have taken gold and silver in an individual Olympic or world race longer than 400 meters since 1912.
Coburn and Frerichs competed collegiately at the University of Colorado, Boulder and the University of New Mexico, respectively. Coburn was a three-time NCAA champion (two steeplechase titles and one indoor mile title), while being named an All-American six times. Frerichs transferred to New Mexico for her senior season and immediately captured the steeplechase national title at the 2016 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championship.
Jordan Burroughs, Wrestling, University of Nebraska
One of the most decorated freestyle wrestlers in recent history, Jordan Burroughs added a fourth world championship title to his resume after topping Khetag Tsabolov of Russia, 9-6, at the 2017 World Wrestling Championships in Paris. His individual gold helped play an integral part in the U.S. winning the team title for the first time since 1995.
As a wrestling student-athlete at Nebraska, Burroughs became the Huskers first two-time national champion, taking home the NCAA championship title in both 2009 and 2011 while amassing a 128-20 career record during his time in Lincoln. He was named a three-time NCAA All-American (2008, 2009, 2011) and won three conference championships during those three years, as well.
Ryan Doherty (Notre Dame) and John Hyden (San Diego State), Beach Volleyball
Ryan Doherty and John Hyden teamed up to take home a silver medal at the 2017 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour event in Olsztyn, Poland, after falling 2-1 to Germany in the final. The pair, in their first season together, was seeded 13th entering the tournament.
Both Doherty and Hyden competed collegiately, with Doherty suiting up as a baseball player at the University of Notre Dame and Hyden as an indoor volleyball player for San Diego State University. Doherty was named a second-team All-American in 2004 and pitched in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization for three years before transitioning to volleyball, while Hyden, a two-time All-American, led the nation in kills per game during his junior (1994) and senior (1995) seasons.