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Post Is Kupets one of the greatest college athletes ever?

Monday April 20, 2009

Is Courtney Kupets the greatest college athlete ever?

It’s obviously a loaded question. So many people in so many sports over so many years. To even begin to make a claim like that, you’d have to consider her place as…

  • The best Georgia gymnast. You’re talking about the sport’s most dominant program over the last 20 years. The list of All-Americans, national champions, and former Olympians is miles long. Still, it only took one year for her to match the Georgia record of three individual national titles in one year. She broke that record this year with four titles.
  • The best collegiate gymnast. Georgia might have the best program, but there have been incredible individual performers at many other programs. Kentucky’s Jenny Hansen was named the NCAA’s top gymnast over the past 25 years in 2006 after winning eight individual titles during her career. Kupets matched and then topped that mark this weekend with nine career individual titles and also matched Hansen’s three career all-around titles. Without her season-ending injury in 2008, Kupets might have walked away with double-digit individual national titles and as the sport’s first four-time all-around champion.
  • The best Georgia athlete in any sport. Names like Walker and Wilkins come to mind when you think about Bulldog greats, but you have to dig deeper when you’re looking for the most accomplished Bulldog athletes. There are swimmers like Kristy Kowal and Courtney Shealy. Few had the impact that Vicki Goetze had on Georgia golf. John Isner is just the most recent legend cranked out by Georgia tennis. Teresa Edwards is one of the most recognized women’s basketball players in the world.

Still, when you look at team and individual accomplishments, it’s hard to come up with a better choice than Kupets. She’s done all she can do. Even more, she came back from a Achilles tear as a junior to have her best season as a senior.

When it comes to the best college athlete ever, the question becomes muddier. It’s hard to top someone like Cael Sanderson who never lost a wrestling match in college. There have also been dominant individuals in team sports – Mia Hamm was a standout on a team of standouts that won four national titles. For all I know, there might be some Stanford water polo player who was better. There’s no question though that Kupets at least belongs in the discussion.

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