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NCAA champ, Olympian Douglas tops TSN men's wrestling list

 By RICK PETERSON

TopSports.news

Melvin Douglas is one of the biggest names in amateur wrestling history, leaving an indelible mark on the high school, college and world stage.

That made the Highland Park legend a clearcut choice for the No. 1 spot on the TopSports.news Shawnee County Best of the Best Top 25 men's wrestling list.

Douglas was a three-time state high school individual champion and went on to claim a pair of NCAA Division I championships for Oklahoma, a world championship and a pair of Olympic berths for Team USA.

 Melvin DouglasMelvin Douglas [Facebook]

Tanner GardnerTanner Gardner [Stanford Athletics]

Tagen Lambotte2Tagen Lambotte [USD321.com]

Former Shawnee Heights two-time state champ and three-time Stanford All-American Tanner Gardner garnered the No. 2 spot on the Top 25 while four-time Rossville state champ Tagen Lambotte is No. 3.

Bishop Murray, who won three individual state titles and a team crown for Washburn Rural, and former Topeka High two-time state champ and Missouri Valley national champ Beau Vest round out the top five.

BishopMurraypinBishop Murray [TSN file photo

Bishop Murray, one of three members of the Murray family to earn berths in the Top 25, was the Readers Choice winner, edging his former Rural teammates, Gavin Carter and Jacob Tangpricha, for that honor.

Here's a look at the Top 25 and Readers Choice Awards:

TSN TOP 25 BEST OF THE BEST MEN'S WRESTLERS

1. Melvin Douglas (Highland Park) -- The Highland Park legend was a three-time state high school champion for the Scots, a two-time NCAA champ for Oklahoma, a world champ, seven-time U.S. Freestyle winner and two-time United State Olympian.

2. Tanner Gardner (Shawnee Heights) --  A two-time undefeated Class 5A state champion for Shawnee Heights, Gardner went on to become the first three-time All-American in Stanford history.

3. Tagen Lambotte (Rossville) -- Lambotte is part of an exclusive group of high school wrestlers to win four state championships, winning four straight 3A-1A titles before going on to wrestle at Iowa.

4. Bishop Murray (Washburn Rural) -- Murray, a 2021 Washburn Rural grad, Murray won three 6A state championships and posted a third-place finish as a prep wrestler and helped lead the Junior Blues to their first-ever team title.

5. Beau Vest (Topeka High) -- Vest was a two-time state champion for Topeka High and a four-time state medalist before becoming a four-time NAIA Wrestling All-American, three-time national finalist and 1996 national champion for Missouri Valley. Vest helped lead Missouri Valley to two national team titles.

6. Duane Zlatnik (Rossville) -- Zlatnik was a three-time individual state champion for Rossville before going on to become a standout offensive lineman for Kansas' football team.

7. Nick Meck (Shawnee Heights) -- Meck was a two-time 5A state champion for Shawnee Heights, posting a 130-30 record with 101 pins, before multiple appearances in the NAIA National Championships.

8. Will Geary (Topeka High) -- Geary won back-to-back 6A heavyweight championships for Topeka High before going on to become a three-time All-Big 12 lineman and an All-American at Kansas State.

9. Bryant Guillen (Seaman) -- Guillen won back-to-back individual 5A state championships for Seaman before going on to compete in the NAIA National Tournament for Baker University.

10. Isaac Luellen (Rossville -- Luellen was a two-time 3A-1A state champion for the Bulldawgs in 2015 and '16 and also posted a state runner-up finish in '14.

11. Isaiah Luellen (Rossville) -- Luellen won back-to-back individual titles for Rossville in 2017 and '18 after placing second in '16 and fourth in '15.

12. Gavin Carter (Washburn Rural) -- Carter posted top-three finishes in 6A for four straight seasons, including a state title, two runner-up finishes and a third-place showing.

13. Jacob Tangpricha (Washburn Rural) -- Tangpricha, who is set for his senior season at Rural, has won back-to-back state titles and led the Junior Blues to their first-ever 6A state championship.

14. Derek Bahner (Silver Lake) -- Bahner was a two-time state individual champion for Silver Lake, winning titles in 1990 and '92.

15. Zach Archer (Rossville) -- Archer captured back to back 3A-1A state championships for the Bulldawgs in 2019 and '20.

16. Kai Allen (Silver Lake) -- Allen, a 2021 Silver Lake graduate, won an individual 3A-1A state championship for the Eagles and also posted a second-place finish and a pair of thirds.

17. Scott Murray (Washburn Rural) -- Murray won a pair of individual 6A state championships for Washburn Rural.

18. Scott Tremblay (Topeka West) -- Tremblay won a pair of state championships for the Chargers.

19. Larry Perez (Topeka High) -- Perez was a multi-time 6A state medalist for Topeka High, including back-to-back state championships as a sophomore and junior.

20. Gunnar Murray (Washburn Rural) -- Murray was a three-time state medalist for the Junior Blues, capping his career with a 6A state championship in 2018 and also posting a runner-up state finish.

21. Tyler Gonzales (Shawnee Heights) -- Now the head coach at Junction City, Gonzales was a state champion for Heights and also posted a runner-up finish before wrestling at Fort Hays State.

22. Ken Hartzell (Highland Park) -- Hartzell won an individual state championship for Highland Park and also posted a runner-up finish.

23. Bailey Kelly (Seaman) -- Kelly was a three-time state medalist for Seaman, capping his senior season with a state title in 2016 after third and sixth-place finishes. Kelly went on to become a standout at Maryville.

24. Donnie Lockhart (Shawnee Heights) -- Lockhart was a multi-time 5A state medalist for the T-Birds, capped by a state championship as a senior.

25. Dawson Podlena (Seaman) -- Podlena posted top-three 5A state finishes for Seaman, including runner-up finishes in '16 and '17 and a third in '15.

READERS CHOICE AWARDS

1. Bishop Murray -- No. 4 in Best of the Best Top 25 (see capsule above).

2. Gavin Carter -- No. 12 in Best of the Best Top 25 (see capsule above).

3. Jacob Tangpricha -- No. 13 in Best of the Best Top 25 (see capsule above).

4. Melvin Douglas -- No. 1 in Best of the Best Top 25 (see capsule above).

5. Gunnar Murray -- No. 20 in Best of the Best Top 25 (see capsule above).

6. Scott Murray -- No. 17 in Best of the Best Top 25 (see capsule above).

7. Freddy Maisberger IV -- Maisberger was a four-time state qualifier for Shawnee Heights before going on to wrestle at Lindenwood and now Ottawa University.

8. Beau Vest -- No. 5 in Best of the Best Top 25 (see capsule above).

9. Tagen Lambotte -- No. 3 in Best of the Best Top 25 (see capsule above).

10. (tie) Tanner Gardner -- No. 2 in Best of the Best Top 25 (see capsule above).

10. (tie) Duane Zlatnik -- No. 6 in Best of the Best Top 25 (see capsule above).