Domination: An Inside Look at Iowa Wrestling

Recap of HWC meeting in Des Moines

The Hawkeye Wrestling Club had a meeting in Des Moines last night for area supporters.  Iowa Head Coach Tom Brands was the guest speaker. Topics included the upcoming HWC Banquet and the schedule for upcoming golf outings.  Members of the HWC Inner Circle have created a new online forum at nineteen84  I will get you more information on this great new platform in an upcoming Iowa Wrestling Fan blog and podcast.

Guest speaker Tom Brands updated the group on the upcoming Freestyle season and the new facility.  Progress is being made on the facility fundraising effort. Former Hawkeye great Royce Alger and HWC President Randy Novak were also in the crowd to talk to HWC members.

Iowa Wrestling has had great support in the Des Moines area for decades. Over the last three years the support has went way up.  There are a lot of people in the Des Moines area working very hard to support the HWC. Jim Sinclair has been very involved and influential in the fundraising effort for the new facility and Steve Reece has been the organizer of Des Moines area events for the HWC.  

It is impressive what groups like the Des Moines area HWC supporters have accomplished.  Their support of the HWC is influential and appreciated. With the new facility project, overall the HWC is having more of an impact on Iowa Wrestling than maybe anytime in the 46-year history of the club.

To all of the the HWC members and the Iowa Wrestling Nation, thank you for what you do.  We all want Iowa Wrestling to win.

The Hawkeye Wrestling Club will hold their annual banquet at the Kirkwood Conference Center (The Hotel) on Friday, May 31.  There will be a silent auction beginning at 6 PM followed by appetizers. Iowa Head Coach Tom Brands and HWC coach Mark Perry will be the guest speakers.  

*This is a new date for the banquet that was originally scheduled for May 17.

For reservations, please go to

If you would like to contribute to the Silent or Live Auction, please contact HWC President Randy Novak:

I will keep you up to date with upcoming events of the HWC on my Iowa Wrestling Fan blog and podcast.

It is great to be an Iowa Wrestling fan.

Go Hawks!

Gallagher tops new Recruiting Wish List

It is time to update my Iowa Wrestling Recruiting Wish List. The Iowa program is stacked and deep with talented and tough wrestlers and getting even better with the incoming committed recruits.  We all know recruiting is where it is at to build a national championship team.

My current Iowa Wrestling Recruiting Wish List: (Weights and ranking by FloWrestling)

  1. Paddy Gallagher, Chesterland, OH (St. Ed’s HS) 160 lbs. #2 – Class of 2021
  2. Jesse Vasquez, Corona, CA (Excelsior HS) 145 lbs. #2 – Class of 2020
  3. Nicolar Rivera, Stoughton, WI  120 lbs. #10 – Class of 2022
  4. Alex Facundo, Davison, MI 160 lbs. #1 – Class of 2021
  5. Brandon Hoselton, Genoa, IL (Prairie Central) 195 lbs. #13 – Class of 2021
  6. Robert Avila, Lisbon, IA  132 lbs. #14 – Class of 2022

I first saw Paddy Gallagher in person a year ago at the Iowa camp.  Of all the star wrestlers on the mat, and there were a lot, Gallagher stood out to me.  I cannot help but make the comparisons when I evaluate Gallagher. Is he Bull 2.0? A lot of similarities to Alex Marinelli of Graham HS. Gallagher is from a national powerhouse high school program in Ohio (St. Ed’s) and a great blend of aggression, technique, and very, very strong. It also helps that Gallagher topped the #1 ranked wrestler in the country in the Ohio state finals, but I was high on him long before that match. I see Gallagher as a career 165 lbs. wrestler. To me Paddy Gallagher is exactly what you look for in an Iowa Wrestling recruit.

Jesse Vasquez is the biggest name in the Class of 2020 that has yet to commit.  This guy is fun to watch and is at a needed recruiting weight of 149/157 for the Hawks. A fan noticed that Vasquez had an Iowa Wrestling duffle bag for the California state finals. Yes, Iowa Wrestling fans get excited when we see an elite recruit with anything that has Iowa Wrestling on it. Iowa already has a very, very good recruiting Class of 2020.  The addition of Vasquez would make the Iowa Wrestling Recruiting Class of 2020 great.

I watched a lot of wrestlers last year in Fargo compete in Cadet and Junior Nationals.  Nicolar Rivera stood out to me and he was only in 8th grade. This past season Rivera was undefeated in winning a Wisconsin state title at 106 lbs.  In his toughest competition at the nationally tough Cheesehead, Rivera was 6-0 with five falls and a tech fall. Impossible to predict a future weight for Rivera in college, but it really does not matter. You are going to want Nicolar Rivera on your team.

Alex Facundo is currently the biggest name on my list.  Make the time to go online and watch this guy wrestle. Facundo does it all and is a great wrestler.  But with his height I am thinking Facundo may be at 174/184 in college. Iowa is loaded with incoming recruits Patrick Kennedy and Abe Assad.  I have no idea how it would work out, but Facundo will be a great college wrestler that everyone wants and for good reason.

Even though he is at #13 in the new Flo rankings at 195, I still believe Brandon Hoselton is underrated. Another in a great class of 2021, I believe Hoselton will have a very good to great career in college wrestling at 197.  Hoselton is from the same neck of the woods in Illinois that sent us Jacob Warner and has the work ethic that you like to see in a recruit.

Last year it was Paddy Gallagher that stood out at the Iowa camp.  This year it was Robert Avila. Let’s just say I liked what I saw out of him in a room of elite wrestlers from around the country at the Iowa camp. Being from my hometown of Lisbon, IA I am able to see Avila compete during the season. A lot of potential here and just a freshman.  Wrestling for Brad Smith and being in the Lisbon program is only going to make Avila that much better. As a freshman at this time you do not know what weight Avila will be at in college, you just know you want him on your team.

With the great recruits that have already committed and with Iowa having a fairly young team, I know that I do not have a long list of recruits here.  Iowa does not have a lot of immediate needs except for Jesse Vasquez. Getting a commitment from Vasquez would be a huge get for the Hawks at a needed weight.

I will be following along as the Freestyle season kicks into high gear.  I am always looking for who I think will be the next Iowa Wrestling legend.

It is great to be an Iowa Wrestling fan.

Go Hawks!

Ybarra to compete at FloNationals

Incoming Iowa Wrestling recruit Jesse Ybarra will be competing at FloNationals this weekend.  This is a tough tournament that draws in wrestlers from around the country that will also serve as the 2019 Men’s Cadet Pan American Team Trials.  Wrestlers who place in the Top 8 will receive separation (seeding) criteria for the Cadet World Team Trials in Akron, OH on June 1-2. FloWrestling is the host of the tournament.

For the first time in the ten year history of the event, competition has changed from Folkstyle to Freestyle and Greco-Roman. Freestyle is on Friday and Saturday, April 19-20.  The action will take place in the Kovalchick Complex on the campus of Indiana University in Indiana, PA.

Ybarra is a two-time State champion and a Runner-Up from Tucson, AZ (Sunnyside HS) and won a Cadet national title last summer in Fargo.  Ybarra will be competing at either 55 kg (121 lbs.) or at 60 kg (132 lbs.).

Ybarra is a member of the Iowa Wrestling Recruiting Class of 2020 that also includes:

Patrick Kennedy – Kasson-Mantorville, MN 170/182 lbs.

Cullan Schriever – Mason City, Iowa 120 lbs.

Colby Schriever – Mason City, Iowa 138 lbs.

Jesse Ybarra – Tucson, AZ (Sunnyside HS) 126 lbs.

Gabe Christenson – Runnells, Iowa (Southeast Polk HS) 195 lbs.

I will keep you up to date with results.

It is great to be an Iowa Wrestling fan.

Go Hawks!

Dan Gable Golf Tournament on June 7

The 2019 Dan Gable Celebrity Golf Tournament will be held on Friday, June 7. The action will begin at 8 AM at the Prairie Links Golf Course in Waverly, IA.  The National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum will be hosting the tournament.

Proceeds from the tournament will go to the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum.  The museum recently had a grand re-opening after a $1.4 million renovation that provides a state of the art fan experience that is truly one of a kind.  The museum also includes a full sized wrestling room where clinics and camps are held to promote wrestling to all ages.

This is a great opportunity to spend the afternoon with Dan Gable who I call “The Living Legend.”  Celebrities from throughout the wrestling community will be present including Iowa Wrestling legends that competed for Gable at Iowa and for Team USA in World and Olympic competition.

Make your reservations now.

For more information:


National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum

303 Jefferson St.

Waterloo, IA 50701

Phone: (319) 233-0745

Fax: (319) 287-5387



It is great to be an Iowa Wrestling fan.

Go Hawks!   

2020 will be a great year to be a wrestling fan

Coming out of the 2019 season, college wrestling has never been more popular.  The NCAA National Tournament was on the ESPN channels for all sessions and the ratings were very strong with an increase in viewers. As fans we were able to see dual meets on ESPN as well.  I really liked the BTN doubleheader on Friday nights of having dual meets live back to back. Through the internet we were able to see nearly any dual meet than we wanted to see as a fan.  Even with all that 2019 had to offer fans, I expect 2020 to be even bigger.

I remember writing in my newspaper The Wrestling Report years ago that wrestling always seems to peak in an Olympic year. There is just an added excitement in wrestling during an Olympic cycle.  The Olympics is the ultimate in our sport of wrestling and with that comes added media attention and anticipation from the fans.  You will also see more coaching changes as wrestlers retire from competition after the Olympic Trials.

I have never seen such anticipation to an NCAA National Tournament so far in advance than I have seen from Iowa Wrestling fans looking forward to the 2020 tournament. Wrestling fans were buying tickets to the 2020 Nationals before the 2019 Nationals even started or was completed.  

There are several reasons for the added interest by Iowa Wrestling fans.  It seems as though Iowa did not receive many tickets to Nationals this year in Pittsburgh.  That may have been why there were so many Iowa fans at Big Tens in Minnesota. You do not hear of many sellout crowds for Big Tens, but I believe it was a full house this year.  There was a strong presence of Iowa Wrestling fans at Big Tens. Iowa fans could not make it to Pittsburgh, but they could make the trip to the Twin Cities.

That leads right into my next point.  The 2020 NCAA National Wrestling Championships are going to be held in the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN.  That is the home of the Minnesota Vikings of the NFL. That alone should tell you at this is a state of the art nearly new facility that will hold a lot of fans and accommodate them between rounds.  

I have read a couple of places that early estimates for the 2020 Nationals is at 35,000 fans. I do not know if that is just for the finals or for all sessions.  Regardless, the opportunity for an NCAA National Tournament record crowd will be in play. Will the record wrestling crowd of 42,287 from the Grapple on the Gridiron be safe?  I guess that depends on if the 35,000 number I am hearing for fans is for the finals or early rounds. Will they get even more for the finals? Even though the Grapple on the Gridiron was actually over 50,000 there may be a new record set.  I am hoping for a Grapple on the Gridiron II in the Fall of 2020 to shatter the existing record.

With the 2020 Big Tens being at Rutgers in New Jersey I am sure that Iowa fans will chose to make their one big road trip to Nationals instead of Big Tens.  Minneapolis is as close as Iowans will get for Nationals. The next closest will be St. Louis in 2021. This will be a great two year run for Iowa Wrestling fans to get in the stands to watch that Hawks at Nationals.

Iowa Wrestling has the biggest advantage for a fan base of any sport that I know of in the country.  The storyline of Iowa being in the chase to regain the national title for the first time since 2010 will be one of the bigger sports stories nationwide of the year. The combination of a great storyline and fanbase is just what the media loves.  It is all about the $ for the media and I see this combination being a moneymaker for them.

Iowa is overdue to host Penn State and Ohio State and is in the rotation to have Oklahoma State compete in Carver Hawkeye Arena this coming season.  Let’s hope that the Big Ten and the schools involved make the Penn State and Ohio State duals happen. You can bank on Oklahoma State competing here next season. Depending on how the Iowa Athletic Department has the scheduling, those three dual meets would I guess all be over 12,000 and a sellout for Penn State.  Iowa will have a great chance to beat their home attendance record of every season except the year that they had the Grapple on the Gridiron (2015-16 season).

Iowa Wrestling fans are hungry for a team title.  Downright starved. That force alone will drive up the interest level in the entire sport of wrestling.  To come off of the 2020 Nationals in March and then a few short weeks later to have the Olympic Trials in Iowa City, Iowa USA?  I see momentum and the potential to shatter attendance records for the Olympic Trials just from Iowans alone.

It is mid April of 2019 and I am already excited thinking about the upcoming year but for good reason. I know that we have not even started the process of selecting our Team USA for the 2019 World Freestyle Championships.  College wrestling is the big influence in our sport in my opinion and the Olympic year began right at the end of Nationals in Pittsburgh on March 23.

Let’s break some records and have a great time being a wrestling fan.

It is great to be an Iowa Wrestling fan.

Go Hawks!


Fiser selected for Viginia Chapter NWHOF

Travis Fiser has been introduced as a member of the Class of 2019 in the Virginia Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.  Fiser will enter the hall with the Lifetime Service to Wrestling award at the honors banquet on April 27. Fiser is the Head Coach of the Grundy Wrestling Club and his Grundy high school team just won their fourth consecutive Virginia state title and seventh in the last eight years.

Fiser was a 1A State Runner-Up at 167 lbs. in 1987 at Iowa Valley High School in Marengo, Iowa.  He then achieved Junior College All-American status at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, IA in 1989.  Fiser was then a member of the 1991 and 1992 NCAA national championship teams of Dan Gable at the University of Iowa.  I still consider the 1991 and 1992 Iowa teams to be the best wrestling teams in the history of college wrestling.  Fiser was a two-time All-American at 190 lbs. when he placed 6th in 1991 and 5th in 1992.

Fisher then competed for the Hawkeye Wrestling Club and became the Iowa Wrestling Strength and Conditioning Coach.  Fiser has been coaching at Grundy since the 1996-97 season.

Fiser’s son Gabe Fiser, a senior at 152 lbs.,  just won his fourth state title for Grundy and is being recruited by Iowa, Virginia Tech, and Coe College.

It is great to be an Iowa Wrestling fan.

Go Hawks!

Assad named IWCOA 3A Outstanding Wrestler

Incoming recruit Abe Assad has been named as the 2019 IWCOA Class 3A Outstanding Wrestler.  Assad was announced for the honor at the All-State Convention and Awards Ceremony for the IWCOA (Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association) on April 7. Assad captured a 3A state title at 182 lbs. this season.

Assad, from Carol Stream, IL (Glenbard North HS), won a Bronze medal at the 2018 Cadet World Freestyle Championships in Zagreb, Croatia at 86 kg/176 lbs. Assad has won an Illinois state title the last two years.  Assad committed to Iowa on August 7, 2018 and is projected to wrestle at 184/197 for the Hawks.

Assad is a member of the Iowa Wrestling recruiting Class of 2019 that also includes Zach Glazier of Albert Lea, MN (Albert Lea Area HS) and Cobe Siebrecht of Lisbon, IA.

This marked the third year in a row that an incoming Iowa Wrestling recruit has been named as an Outstanding Wrestler by the IWCOA.  True freshman Anthony Cassioppi of Roscoe, IL (Hononegah HS) was named as the 2018 IWCOA Class 3A Outstanding Wrestler. Jacob Warner of Tolono, IL (Washington HS) was named as the 2017 IWCOA 2A Outstanding Wrestler.  

When you look at the group of Jacob Warner, Anthony Cassioppi, Abe Assad, Vince Turk, and Jason Renteria, the state of Illinois is sending Iowa Wrestling some great recruits.

It is great to be an Iowa Wrestling fan.

Go Hawks!

Four from HWC ranked #1 by USA Wrestling

USA Wrestling released their Senior Wrestling Rankings.  Four members of the Hawkeye Wrestling club are ranked #1: Thomas Gilman (57kg), Alli Ragan (59kg), Kayla Miracle (62kg), and Forrest Molinari (65kg).  Members of the HWC will compete next at the U.S. Open on April 25-27.


#1 – Thomas Gilman (57kg)

#1 – Alli Ragan (59kg)

#1 – Kayla Miracle (62kg)

#1 – Forrest Molinari (65kg)

#3 – Spencer Lee (57kg)

#3 – Michaela Beck (59kg)

#4 – Cory Clark (61kg)

#4 – Sammy Brooks (86kg)

#5 – Lauren Louive (59kg)

#5 – Brandon Sorensen (70kg)

#6 – Nathan Burak (97kg)



U.S. Open: Senior Nationals – Mens and Women Las Vegas, NV  April 25-27

Senior Mens and Womens World Team Trials  Raleigh, NC May 18-19

Final X Senior World Team Trials  Piscataway, NJ June 8

Men’s Freestyle: 65kg, 79kg, 86kg, 92kg, 125kg

Women’s Freestyle: 50kg, 57kg, 65kg, 68kg, 72kg

Final X Senior World Team Trials  Lincoln, NE June 15

Men’s Freestyle: 57kg, 61kg, 70kg, 74kg, 97kg

Women’s Freestyle: 53kg, 55kg, 59kg, 62kg, 76kg

Senior World Freestyle Championships  Astana, Kazakhstan August 14-22


It is great to be an Iowa Wrestling fan.

Go Hawks!


Freestyle schedule for HWC, Iowa Wrestling, and incoming recruits

The Freestyle season is upon us.  There will be quite a bit of competition for the Hawkeye Wrestling Club, Iowa wrestling, and committed recruits coming up.  I went through the national and international freestyle schedule to organize the competitions.

The first real big weekend will be the U.S. Open in Las Vegas on April 25-27.  This is the biggest competition of the year for the HWC. We will also have Iowa wrestlers competing in the UWW Junior National Championships and incoming recruits competing the same weekend in Vegas.  I will have a preview coming up to get us ready to go.

I will do my best to keep you up to date with who is competing where and when and how they did for the HWC, Iowa Wrestling, and incoming recruits..


U.S. Open: Senior Nationals – Mens and Women Las Vegas, NV  April 25-27

UWW Junior National Championships (Age:18-20)  Las Vegas, NV April 26-27

UWW Junior World Team Trials Raleigh, NC  May 17-18

Senior Mens and Womens World Team Trials  Raleigh, NC May 18-19

UWW Cadet Nationals/WTT  Akron, OH June 2-3

U23 Nationals/WTT (Age:19-23)  Akron, OH June 2-3

Final X Senior World Team Trials  Piscataway, NJ June 8

Men’s Freestyle: 65kg, 79kg, 86kg, 92kg, 125kg

Women’s Freestyle: 50kg, 57kg, 65kg, 68kg, 72kg

Final X Senior World Team Trials  Lincoln, NE June 15

Men’s Freestyle: 57kg, 61kg, 70kg, 74kg, 97kg

Women’s Freestyle: 53kg, 55kg, 59kg, 62kg, 76kg

16U/Cadet National Duals  Spokane, WA June 14-15

Junior National Duals  Tulsa, OK June 21-22

16U/Cadet Nationals  Fargo, ND July 13-15

Junior Nationals Fargo, ND  July 14-16

Cadet World Championships  Sofia, Bulgaria July 29-August 4

Junior World Championships  Tallinn, Estonia August 12-18

Senior World Freestyle Championships  Astana, Kazakhstan August 14-22

U23 World Championships  Budapest, Hungary October 28-November 3  


It is great to be an Iowa Wrestling fan.

Go Hawks!


Iowa recruits on Flo Top 100 for Class of 2020

FloWrestling released their updated Top 100 Big Board for the Class of 2020.  The Iowa Wrestling Recruiting Class of 2020 is well represented, but not complete.  

Patrick Kennedy, Kasson-Mantorville, MN  – #6

Cullan Schriever,  Mason City, IA – #39

Gabe Christenson, Runnells, IA (Southeast Polk HS) – #78

No Jesse Ybarra in the Top 100?  Ybarra is not even listed in the top 20 at 126 lbs. in the April 3 Flo rankings. From what I saw of Jesse Ybarra of Tucson, AZ (Sunnyside HS) this weekend in the Iowa Wrestling room, I’ll sure take him.  I do not know how Ybarra could have impressed me any more than he did.

Injuries were a factor in a couple of losses this season and he is still on the mend.  I look forward to seeing Ybarra compete in Fargo this summer. Iowa Wrestling fans should be very excited about Jesse Ybarra.  I know I sure am.

Jesse Vasquez of Corona, CA (Excelsior HS) is #9 on the ranking.  Vasquez is the huge recruit in the Class of 2020 that has not committed yet that I would think every college wants.

It is great to be an Iowa Wrestling fan.

Go Hawks!