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Record 4 Iowa Wrestlers named Academic All-American

The Tom Brands Era of Iowa Wrestling continues to raise the bar for academics.  A record four Iowa Hawkeye wrestlers were named to the National Wrestling Coaches Association Division I All-Academic Team.  Brandon Sorensen, Michael Kemerer, Alex Marinelli, and Spencer Lee were all named to the first team. Last season Iowa tied their all-time mark with three wrestlers named to the first team.

To be eligible, student-athletes must have a 3.2 grade point average and have won 60 percent of their matches, or maintain a 3.0 GPA while earning All-America honors.

I can also copy and paste the following line from my blog last year about Academic All American wrestlers:

Iowa has had at least one representative on the NWCA All-Academic team every year since Tom Brands was named head coach in 2006.

Senior Brandon Sorensen was named to this prestigious list for a fourth straight year.  There are few four-time Division I All American wrestlers that are also a four-time Academic All American.  Sorensen placed 4,2,3,5 at the NCAA’s for his career.

Michael Kemerer, Alex Marinelli, and Spencer Lee are also on track to be a rare four-time All American on and of the mat. Kemerer, a sophomore, placed fourth at Nationals and is a repeat as an Academic All American. Alex Marinelli and Spencer Lee were both All Americans this year as freshman on and off the mat with Marinelli placing sixth and Lee winning the national title at 125 lbs.

Brandon Sorensen, Cedar Falls, IA  Graduates in May with a degree in Sports and Rec Management.

Michael Kemerer, Murrayville, PA, sophomore, Finance major.

Alex Marinelli, Miamisburg, OH, freshman, Sports and Rec Management.

Spencer Lee, Murrayville, PA, freshman, Sports and Rec Management.

40% of the Iowa lineup is Academic All American.  These type of results in the classroom has to be a great sales pitch out on The Recruiting Trail.

This is direct proof of the commitment to academics for Iowa Wrestling, the Iowa Athletic Department, and the University of Iowa.

Great job to all.

Go Hawks!


HWC Banquet in Des Moines is a huge success

The Hawkeye Wrestling Club Banquet in Des Moines Saturday night was a huge success. Even though Mother Nature provided a challenge, over 300 people attended the banquet and over $50,000 was raised for the Hawkeye Wrestling Club.  What a great showing of support that the HWC and Iowa Wrestling has in the Des Moines area.  

HWC President Randy Novak:

“Steve and Beth Reese, Gina Wiltsey, Chris Haupert and many other Des Moines fans did an OUTSTANDING job organizing and running the event.

There is definitely a “buzz” right now with the HWC and Iowa Wrestling!  Speeches by Tom, Terry, and Mark are always the highlight.

Awesome to see kids surround Thomas Gilman the entire night.

We are grateful that this group showed up on a night that had some bad weather to support the club.”

Iowa Wrestling and the HWC has had great support from the Des Moines area for decades.  Over the last year they have really took their support to another level. Last summer’s golf outing in the Des Moines area was also a record breaker.

I agree with Randy about the “buzz” with Iowa Wrestling.  Momentum started with the HWC last year after the NCAA tournament and it is still picking up steam.

The next fundraiser for the HWC is the Riverside Golf Outing on Monday, June 25.  For information or to register, go to:

From someone that is in the Iowa Wrestling room on a consistent basis, I can tell you first hand that fundraising events like this are making a huge impact on the Iowa Wrestling program.  The cornerstone of the Gable Era through the current Brands Era is the presence of World class wrestlers in the HWC to work with and mentor the young Iowa wrestlers. The increase in support with the HWC over the last year is amazing and it is easy to see the impact that the added fundraising has done for the program.  

Great job and thank you to all that contributed in anyway you could.

It is great to be an Iowa Wrestling fan.

Go Hawks!

The World Cup in Iowa City – Let’s do it again

What an amazing experience the World Cup was this weekend at Carver Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa USA.  The competition at the international level is amazing. Wrestling fans were very entertained and let the wrestlers know.  The University of Iowa, the Iowa City area, Team USA, and wrestlers from all of the countries competing rolled out the red carpet and put on a great show. I have one thing to say about the World Cup experience and that is:

Let’s do it again!

Of all that impressed me about the World Cup, I have to start with Team USA winning their first team title since 2003.  There was a lot of patriotic pride as the wrestling family came together as a country to bring that great title of World Cup Team Champions back to the USA.  I was so impressed with Team USA up and down the lineup. I sincerely believe we have the potential to medal at all ten weights in the 2018 World Freestyle Championships.  I would hate to be forced to bet against any one of our weights not placing. We are that good.

The University of Iowa and the Iowa City/Coralville area absolutely did roll out the red carpet for the World Cup.  That made very proud to be an Iowa Hawkeye, an Iowan, and an American. Nobody, and I mean nobody, can host a wrestling tournament like the University of Iowa and the Iowa City/Coralville area.  Let’s take this in steps.

The University of Iowa Wrestling program opened up their facility to Team USA for over a week to train and get ready for the World Cup.  How well was that recieved? I would not be surprised if at least one real big name wrestler on Team USA would move to Iowa City to train more in the Iowa Wrestling program.  I have to think that Team USA will have more training camps in the Dan Gable Wrestling Complex. There is no better place in this country or maybe even in the world to train than in the land of the Hawkeyes.

To Gary Barta and the Iowa Athletic Department, to Chris Brewer in Sports Information, to the crew that runs all of the shows in Carver, and all of the volunteers, job well done.  The World Cup was a great way to show the rest of the country and the entire world that wrestling is our sport. Wrestling is what we are known for, and it showed.

Tom Brands told me in an interview last fall about the trip to Colorado Springs that he took with Josh Schamberger of the Iowa City/Coralville Area Convention Bureau. The pitch was spot on we got the bid for the World Cup. Hosting the Olympic Trials and smashing attendance records had to be a huge help. And do not forget about the Grapple on the Gridiron that will always be on the resume of what Iowa Wrestling has done to raise the bar for the fan experience.

I was so impressed by the comments of the wrestlers on Team USA that said time after time in interviews that flat out, Iowa Wrestling fans are the best.  What an amazing compliment to hear your former bitter rivals say repeatedly that not only that our fans are the best, but how great the accomodations, training, and overall experience was.

Jordan Burroughs, one of the greatest wrestler in the history of the sport, put it best:

“The atmosphere is amazing. it’s the mecca of wrestling. Gilman is my teammate. Got a chance to spend time at Dan Gable’s house. Hit the sauna with Tom & Terry Brands. Royce Alger’s roaming the hallways telling bad jokes…”

We are the mecca of wrestling on planet Earth.  Great to hear that from someone with the credentials of Jordan Burroughs that has competed around the world.

I also want to give a shout out to the amazing job that Bill Zadick is doing as our head coach of USA Freestyle.  We just won our first World Championships title since 1995 last fall in Paris and now our first World Cup since 2003. Not a coincidence.  Proud to call Bill Zadick a Hawkeye and a great guy that was also a national champion wrestler for us at Iowa.

It was also great for fans like me to have Thomas Gilman in their competing for Team USA with the best wrestlers in the world.  Having one of your own at the table made it that much more special.  Now let’s get some more Hawkeyes on Team USA.

What a great job of having Dan Gable, Mike Duroe, and J Robinson as our honorary coaches for Team USA.  God Bless Coach Mike Duroe who is battling health issues but you would never know it from being around him. One tough guy.

So with all of the great things that happened with the World Cup in Iowa City this past weekend, I say…Let’s do it again!  I would think that UWW, USA Wrestling, the University of Iowa, and the Iowa City/Coralville area would be ready to go for additional elite international wrestling events.  And hey, what about the World Freestyle Championships? I asked Tom Brands about that in that interview last fall and he said we did not have enough hotel rooms in the area.  I know for a fact that there are additional hotels being built right now in the Iowa City area including one by Iowa Wrestling legend Lincoln McIlravy. I look for us to get a World Freestyle Championships, and soon.  After the Olympics, which will never come to Iowa City, the Freestyle World Championships is the greatest wrestling event in the world. With what just happened in Iowa City for the World Cup, I cannot think of a better place to have it than in the land of the  Hawkeyes.

So thank you again to all of you that made the World Cup such and amazing event.  You did us all proud on and off the mat. Now let’s get to work at getting more events like that back in legendary Carver Hawkeye Arena.

As always, it is great to be an Iowa Wrestling fan.

Go Hawks!  Go USA!


Warner named 2017 Tri-County Male Athlete of the Year

Iowa Wrestling freshman Jacob Warner was named as the 2017 Tri-County Male Athlete of the Year by the Greater Peoria Sports Hall of Fame. Warner received the award at the GPSHOF introduction banquet on April 7 at the Peoria Civic Center.

Warner won his third state wrestling title last season for Washington, IL and a Junior National title in both Freestyle and Greco-Roman.  He was the top rated high school wrestler in the country last year at 195 lbs.  Warner also won a Bronze at the 2016 Cadet World Freestyle Championships in Tbilisi, Georgia.

Warner was a highly sought after recruit that is now a redshirt freshman at the University of Iowa.

Cassioppi receives IWCOA awards

Incoming Iowa Wrestling recruit Anthony Cassioppi received two awards.  The IWCOA (Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association) named Cassioppi as the 2018 3A Scholastic Wrestler of the Year and the 2018 3A Outstanding Wrestler of the Year.

Cassioppi, from Hononegah High School (Roscoe, IL), recently wrapped up a dominating senior season in winning the 3A state title at Hwt and also won a title at Folkstyle Nationals.  Last year Cassioppi won a rare Triple Crown by winning Folkstyle Nationals and a Junior Nationals title in both Freestyle and Greco-Roman as well as winning a Gold medal at the Pan Am Games in both Freestyle and Greco-Roman.

Cassioppi is a 4.0 GPA student and a member of the Iowa Wrestling Recruiting Class of 2018.

The World Cup…is HERE!

When you walk by a big statue of Dan Gable and then see the flags of countries coming into town to compete in freestyle wrestling, you are in the right place. The World Cup is indeed here. A great assembly of freestyle wrestlers from around the world will do battle this weekend in legendary Carver Hawkeye Arena for the 2018 World Cup.

There has been way too much said about who is not at the World Cup due to the fact that Russia and Iran are not coming.  Folks, do not for one second think that India and Mongolia are a pushover or that you will not be very entertained by outstanding wrestling. Wrestling is the official national sport of Mongolia and India is one of the up and coming programs over the last ten years. There will be outstanding and very entertaining wrestling in Carver Hawkeye Arena starting at 10 AM CST on Saturday.

I have been able to attend practice for Team USA this week and the level of wrestling is almost unreal. As great as our wrestles look on TV or the internet, they look much better when you see the moves in person, especially the flurries.  Team USA is hot off their first team title at the 2017 World Freestyle Championships since 1995. Even with having the best team in the world right now, we are still a young team that I believe will only get better.  How young is Team USA? Jordan Burroughs is the elder statesman on the team and he is 29 years old.

Team USA is led by reigning World Champions Jordan Burroughs (74 kg) and Kyle Snyder (97 kg) along with 2017 World Silver medalist Thomas Gilman (59 kg) and James Green (70 kg) and World Bronze medalist J’den Cox (86 kg) and Nick Gwiazdowski (125 kg).  This is also the first international event of its type to have the two new weight classes. Team USA will be well represented with 4X NCAA champ Kyle Dake at 79 kg and Olympic and World Bronze medalist J’den Cox at 92 kg. With the ten weight classes, Team USA now has Burroughs, Dake, Taylor and Cox a-l-l in the lineup.  That is great news for USA Wrestling.

The greater Iowa City area and the University of Iowa are doing a great job as host.  As I mentioned earlier, when you walk by a Gable statue on your way to a workout, you are in the right place.  Banners are hung up along the streets in Coralville and Iowa City and the wrestlers are recognized by the many wrestling fans in the area. The wrestlers and staff of Team USA have complete use of the Iowa Wrestling facility and the support of the coaching staff and University of Iowa.  Team USA were to visit with Dan Gable in his home last night.  That is an experience that I am sure will not be forgotten. All of this…only in Iowa.  No other place on planet Earth can put on a wrestling tournament like the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa USA.

Gable’s Garden will be in full force.  Directly from

7G Distributing headlines an outdoor “Gable’s Garden” that includes non-alcoholic beverages, beer, wine, and food from local vendors. “Gable’s Garden” is open Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. outside the North Entrance of Carver-Hawkeye Arena, near the Dan Gable statue.

Admission to “Gable’s Garden” is included with the purchase of a World Cup ticket. Fans will be able to purchase food and beverages at “Gable’s Garden” and take those items into the arena.

Day Passes for the wrestling begin at $25.  What more could you ask for?

This is  a once in a lifetime event that I strongly encourage you to attend.

Go USA!!!


New revised schedule for the 2018 World Cup in Carver Hawkeye Arena:

Saturday, April 7

10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. – Session I

10:00 a.m – USA vs. India on Mat A, Mongolia vs. Kazakhstan on Mat B

11:15 a.m. – Georgia vs. Japan on Mat A, Azerbaijan vs. Cuba on Mat B

2 p.m. – Opening Ceremonies

2:30 p.m. -7:00 p.m. Session II

2:30 p.m. – USA vs. Japan on Mat A

4:30 p.m. – Mongolia vs. Cuba on Mat B

5:45 p.m. – Georgia vs. India on Mat A, Azerbaijan vs. Kazakhstan on Mat B


Sunday, April 8

10 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. – Session III

10:00 a.m. – USA vs. Georgia on Mat A, Mongolia vs. Azerbaijan on Mat B

11:15 a.m. – Japan vs. India on Mat A, Cuba vs. Kazakhstan on Mat B

12:30 p.m. – 5th Place Match at Mat A, 7th Place Match on Mat B

2:15 p.m. – Bronze Medal Match on Mat A

4 p.m. – Gold Medal Match on Mat A

*****All times are CST.


Mat A will be the mat furthest from the tunnel in Carver. Mat B will be the mat closest to the tunnel.

*The World Cup will be streamed online at TrackWrestling.

*NBCSportsNetwork will televise US matches Saturday at 2:30 and Gold Medal match Sunday at 4 p.m.

Cassioppi wins Folkstlye Nationals

Incoming Iowa Wrestling recruit Anthony Cassioppi won the USAW Junior Folkstyle Nationals in Cedar Falls, Iowa.  Cassioppi stormed to the finals with four first period pins in 0:47, 1:40, 0:44, and 0:40. In the finals at Hwt., Cassioppi, ranked fourth in the country, defeated nationally tenth ranked Nash Hutmacher of South Dakota by a 3-1 decision for the title.

Cassioppi, of Hononegah High School (Roscoe, IL), is joined by Nelson Brands of Iowa City, IA (West HS) and Joe Kelly of West Liberty, IA as the Iowa Wrestling Recruiting Class of 2018.


  • Champ. Round 1 – Anthony Cassioppi (Hononegah Wrestling Club) won by fall over Ryan Skillington (County Elite) (Fall 0:47)
  • Champ. Round 2 – Anthony Cassioppi (Hononegah Wrestling Club) won by fall over Jacob Knutson (Crestwood Cadets) (Fall 1:40)
  • Quarterfinal – Anthony Cassioppi (Hononegah Wrestling Club) won by fall over Jake McGinnis (Team Idaho) (Fall 0:44)
  • Semifinal – Anthony Cassioppi (Hononegah Wrestling Club) won by fall over Keegan Wilkinson (Team Utah) (Fall 0:40)
  • 1st Place Match – Anthony Cassioppi (Hononegah Wrestling Club) won by decision over Nash Hutmacher (Chamberlain High School) (Dec 3-1)

Dardanes of HWC to compete in NYC

Chris and Nick Dardanes of the Hawkeye Wrestling Club will be competing in the Bill Farrell Memorial International Open this weekend.  The Men’s Freestyle will be held on Saturday, March 31 with rounds of competition at 8 AM and 5 PM CST. The New York Athletic Club will host the event by Central Park in New York City.

The NYAC hosted an International tournament in December for over 50 years and have now changed the name and date for this year’s tournament.

Chris Dardanes will be competing at 61 kg and Nick Dardanes will compete at 65 kg.

All members of the Hawkeye Wrestling Club will be competing at the U.S. Open in Las Vegas on April 27-28.


Bill Farrell Memorial International Open  Saturday, March 31

Men’s Freestyle Session I: 8 AM – 3 PM

Men’s Freestyle Medal Matches: 5 PM – 7 PM

*All times CST

10 Iowa Wrestlers named Academic All-Big Ten

The 2018 Big Ten Winter Academic All-Conference Team was announced.  Iowa Wrestling was well represented with 10 wrestlers being named to the prestigious honor.  To be eligible, an athlete has to be a student for the past twelve months, be a letter winner, and maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA.  Iowa Wrestling had 10 student-athletes named for this achievement out of 23 eligible student-athletes. That is an impressive percentage.  Iowa Wrestling had 9 wrestlers named to this honor last season.

Among those named to the Academic All-Conference Team were three wrestlers that obtained All American status last weekend at the national tournament.   Four-time All American Brandon Sorensen (149 lbs.), sophomore and two-time All American Michael Kemerer (157 lbs.), and freshman and All American Alex Marinelli (165 lbs.). Phillip Laux and Kaleb Young also saw varsity action this season.

The student athletes named to this honor are now eligible for Academic All American status.  Last season, Iowa Wrestling had three student-athletes obtain All American status for the second time in Tom Brands’ tenure.  Among those honored were Brandon Sorensen and Michael Kemerer.

This honor is a testament to the commitment to academics by the Iowa wrestlers, Iowa Wrestling coaching staff, the University of Iowa Athletic Department, and by the University of Iowa.  They truly are “Student-Athletes” in Iowa Westling. If you ever go to an Iowa Wrestling practice, you will hear Tom Brands talk about and emphasizes academics every time. These are the results.

I will keep you up to date when the Academic All American honors are announced.

Job well done.

Go Hawks!


Stephen Alvarez – RS Fr. – English & Creative Writing – Spring Valley, Calif.

Michael Kemerer – So. – Finance – Murrysville, Pa.

Phillip Laux – Sr. – Management – Brighton, Iowa

Alex Marinelli – RS Fr. – Sport & Recreation Management – Miamisburg, Ohio

Logan McQuillen – Sr. – Biology/Health & Human Physiology/Biology – Monticello, Iowa

Aaron Meyer – So. – Health & Human Physiology – Pleasant Hill, Iowa

Dan Murphy – RS Fr. – Open Major – Fort Collins, Colo.

Keegan Shaw – So. – Economics & Finances – Altoona, Iowa

Brandon Sorensen – Sr. – Sport & Recreation Management/Enterprise Leadership – Cedar Falls, Iowa

Kaleb Young – RS Fr. – Human Physiology – Punxsutawney, Pa.

My 2019 Iowa Wrestling Preview

Well wrestling fans, it is past time to start talking about the 2019 edition of Iowa Wrestling.  With Cleveland and the 2018 nationals in the rear view mirror, we now need to take a look ahead to the 2019 NCAA Wrestling Championships in Pittsburgh, PA on March 21-23.

The Hawks only graduate one senior from this year’s third place team in Brandon Sorensen.  Sorensen had a great career as a four-time All American and was the mere definition of consistency throughout his college career that saw him place fourth, second, third, and fifth in the nation.  The Hawks will have 84 returning nationals points and four All Americans to build on for next season.

Let’s take a look at the lineup:

125 – Spencer Lee.  As a defending national champ, I look for Lee to be much better next season.  Next year 125 will be once again be a stacked weight class that would be made even tougher with redshirt freshman Daton Fix of Oklahoma State.  Fix was a Junior World champ last year and may be the biggest recruit to come out of Oklahoma since Mark Perry in 2003. Fix defeated Tomasello of Ohio State in making the U-23 World team this past October as well.

133 –  Paul Glynn battled with graduating senior Phillip Laux throughout the season before being named as the starter.  Glynn did not qualify for nationals out of the very tough Big Ten. Look for an improved Glynn for next year’s squad.

141 – There will be an absolute battle for this starting spot.  Vince Turk and Carter Happel both saw action in the varsity lineup before Turk won a wrestle off the week before Big Tens.  Turk then really took his wrestling up a real big notch in qualifying for nationals. Turk looked good at nationals with a 3-2 record.  Prized recruit Max Murin took his redshirt year and placed ahead of Turk and Happel at Midlands. Turk won a close match in a wrestle off in early November over Murin and that was the only time they wrestled each other.  Murin defeated Happel in two tournaments including Midlands.

This weight may be decided right before Big Tens again next year.  I am expecting big things out of Murin who will be a big 141 lbs. wrestler.  Turk got a taste of the action and could really improve a lot in the offseason.  I am picking Murin to need until the second semester to get his starting spot secure and to hit his stride on his way to becoming an All American.  Will Happel go to 133?

149 – Patricio Lugo has a lot of people excited in the Iowa program.  When I asked Tom Brands about him in an interview, I got a glowing response.  Lugo is tough and fits right in with the Iowa Wrestling program. Lugo transferred in from Edinboro where he was an NCAA Qualifier during his true freshman and sophomore season.  He redshirted this past season. I am looking for a real big season out of Lugo at 149.

157 – Michael Kemerer showed a lot of guts and toughness this past season while competing through injuries to place fourth in the country.  Kemerer has another gear that is indeed there. He really developed a lot physically last year in the offseason. I look for an even better year out of Kemerer in 2019.

165 – Alex Marinelli, Bull, had an impressive freshman season that saw him enter the Big Tens undefeated.  After a sixth place finish and semifinals appearance at nationals, I look for Marinelli to be much better next year.

174 – Joey Gunther and Kaleb Young will once again battle out for the starting spot here.  Gunther won two overtime wrestle offs over Young. I look for Young to grow into the 174 lbs. division and become a force for the Hawks.  He needs the off season to put on needed size and strength, but he has everything else. With the added size, I see Young as an All American next year.

184 – Cash Wilcke and Mitch Bowman.  This may be the toughest weight to predict.  To start with, I see Wilcke going to 184, his natural weight.  Wilcke has wrestled at 197 and made it to the Round of 12 at nationals as a freshman and sophomore.  However, Mitch Bowman will have something to say about who is varsity. Bowman showed promise this year as he won two matches at nationals.  So we may have Wilcke coming down from 197 and Bowman putting on needed size for 184. This should be a real battle with the result being an All American candidate at 184 for the Hawks.

197 – Jacob Warner is a highly anticipated recruit that took a redshirt year this season.  If you have been reading my blog, you certainly know about Warner. I am very high on his potential.  From the looks of the 197 lbs. wrestlers at nationals, Warner will need to add some size and strength for next year and I am sure he will.  Both finalist at 197 graduated and it is a wide open weight for 2019. An accomplished freestyle wrestler, I an eagerly awaiting Warner competing in events this spring.  The sky is the limit for Jacob Warner at 197 for Iowa Wrestling. And I mean next year too, as in challenging for the national title at 197 and scoring a lot of points for the team.

Hwt – Sam Stoll became and All American this year by placing fifth and winning the award for most pins in the national tournament.  As a fan I thought that was great to see. A very hard worker, Stoll is a grinder that just keeps getting better every day. All four of the wrestlers that placed ahead of Stoll graduated.  I would think that would make Stoll the pre-season number one ranked Hwt in the country. Here’s to Sam Stoll chasing down a national title next year. I hope it happens.

As far as team rankings, I can see Iowa ranked as number two or three pre=season.  It will depend on how much the publications take into account what Ohio State graduated and how much Iowa has coming up.  Penn State will be the clear cut number one.

The prize will be in the PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, PA on March 21-23 for the 2019 NCAA tournament.  There is a lot of living to be done between now and March 21 of next year. I am confident that Iowa Wrestling will field a very tough team that will be very entertaining.   The anticipation of a new lineup that already includes Lee, Kemerer, Marinelli, and Stoll should keep us fans entertained for the off season.

Let’s get ‘em in the middle.

Go Hawks!