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Top 50 Countdown - #8-#7

By MI Grappler, 04/08/20, 6:45PM EDT


8. John Fisher

Fisher placed top-four in the state three times for Flint Northern, closing out his high school career with a state title in 1984.  He was runner-up at the Junior Nationals in Greco in both 1983 and 1984.  Following his senior year, he won a Junior World title in freestyle on American soil, in Washington D.C.  

At Michigan, Fisher reached the podium as a true freshman, placing 4th at NCAA's.  After a redshirt year, he placed 4th, 3rd, and 4th, respectively, in his final three seasons to become just the fourth four-time All-American in program history.  A three-time Big Ten Champ, Fisher is Michigan's all-time wins leader with 183, against just 21 losses.  He posted a 68-3 mark in duals and picked up 43 career falls - fifth most for the Maize and Blue.  Additionally, his 22 career wins at the NCAA Championships tie Mark Churella's program-high record.

An impressive International career would follow, as Fisher placed 5th at the Tblisi tournament in 1990.  He won the US Nationals in 1992 and faced John Smith in the Olympic Trials final that year.  Fisher took the first match from Smith, who was the five-time reigning World and Olympic champ at the time.  Smith would ultimately take the final two bouts of the series and go on to win his second Olympic gold, but Fisher holds the distinction of being the last American to defeat him.  

Fisher earned silver at the World Cup in 1993 and was 2nd at the 1996 Olympic Trials as well, falling again to the eventual Olympic Champ- Tom Brands.  A 1997 World Cup gold, bronze at the 1998 Pan-Ams, and a 6th-place finish at the 2000 Trials were among some of the notable finishes in the latter part of his career.

In 2019, Fisher was inducted into both the Michigan Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and the University of Michigan Hall of Honor.  A four-time Midlands champion and nine-time place winner, he was also named to the Top 30 Midlands competitors of the 20th century (of 7000+ entrants).

7. Greg Johnson

Johnson was a two-time state champion at Lansing Everett, in 1966 and 1967.  He was 3rd at the AAU Nationals in 1967 and made the 1968 Junior Olympic team, also finishing 2nd at the Olympic Trials in 1968.  

His career at Michigan State did not officially begin until 1970, after sitting out in 1968 and being sidelined by injury in 1969.  He dropped his second match of that season before running the table en route to an NCAA title at 118 lbs.  He would win NCAA Championships in his final two seasons as well, becoming the first Big Ten wrestler to win three titles.  A three-time Big Ten champ as well, Johnson was named Outstanding Wrestler at the 1972 Big Ten tournament.  

During his time at MSU, Johnson led the Spartans to three straight top-three finishes at NCAA's - 2nd in 1970, 3rd in 1971, and 2nd in 1972.  His career record was 54-5-2 and he was named to the AWN All-Decade Team for the 1970s at 118 lbs.  When interviewed about Johnson, legendary coach Grady Peninger compared him to fellow Spartan Magic Johnson, calling him a "once-in-a-coaching-career-type of athlete."

Johnson spent time at Clarion and Utah as an assistant coach following his competitive career, eventually landing a head coaching gig at Illinois, where he was at the helm from 1978-1983.  He was posthumously inducted into the MSU Hall of Fame in 2014 and the National Wrestling Hall of Fame as a Distinguished Member in 2015.