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Domination: An Inside Look at Iowa Wrestling

Kennedy named Post Bulletin Wrestler of the Year

For the second year in a row incoming Iowa Wrestling recruit Patrick Kennedy has been named as the Post Bulletin Wrestler of the Year. Kennedy finished off a great high school career by winning his fourth state title recently for Kasson-Mantorville High School and takes his place as one of the most successful wrestlers in Minnesota high school history. The Post Bulletin is based out of Rochester, Minnesota.

Kennedy placed sixth at 132 lbs. in seventh grade and placed third in eighth grade before reeling off four straight titles. Kennedy had a 220-23 career record, 155-2 over the last four years, and was 109-0 over the last three years.

Kennedy won a Junior National Freestyle title in Fargo last summer and is ranked #1 in the country at 182 lbs. by all of the high school rankings.

Kennedy is projected to compete at 165/174 for the Hawks and is a member of the outstanding Iowa Wrestling Recruiting Class of 2020.   

It is great to be an Iowa Wrestling fan.

Go Hawks!

Zaputil and Huff named to IWHOF

Iowa Wrestling greats Chad Zaputil and Tom Huff have been named to the Class of 2020 for induction into the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame in Cresco, Iowa. Both were selected by a unanimous vote.

Huff is originally from Waterloo, Iowa where he was a three-time state champion (1957-59) at Waterloo West for legendary Hall of Fame coach Bob Siddens. At the University of Iowa, Huff was a two-time Big Ten Champion in 1962 and 1963.  In 1962 Huff placed third at 130 lbs. and in 1963 he was an NCAA Runner-Up at 137 lbs. for Hall of Fame Coach Dave McCuskey. 

Huff continued his wrestling career as a Colonel in the United States Air Force where he placed in two Olympic Trials. Tom is a member of the Huff family that was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame for the Family Legacy Award in 2013.

Zaputil is originally from Mystic, Iowa and was a two-time state champion for Centerville High School in 1987-88.  Zaputil competed in one of the most iconic matches in Iowa High School wrestling history when he defeated future Iowa Hawkeye teammate and two-time World champion Terry Brands in the 119 lbs. 2A State Finals in 1987.

At the University of Iowa Zaputil was a three-time NCAA Runner-Up and three-time Big Ten champion at 118 lbs. (1991-93) for legendary coach Dan Gable. Iowa won the NCAA team title all three years Zapitul was in the lineup. I consider the 1991 and 1992 Iowa Hawkeye team to be the greatest in the history of NCAA college wrestling.

After college Zaputil was an influential co-founder of RAW (Real Amateure Wrestling) in southern California that trained wrestlers to compete in the UFC. RAW was a force in the early days of the UFC with former wrestlers winning UFC titles like Randy Couture and was considered one of the best MMA gyms in the world.

I would also like a special mention to Class of 2020 inductee Wyatt Schultz.  Wyatt is the longtime owner, publisher, writer, and photographer for The Predicament and is very deserving to be in the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Due to the recent health crisis situation, the Class of 2020 for the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame will be inducted on Monday, April 12, 2021 in Cresco, Iowa.

It is great to be an Iowa Wrestling fan.

Go Hawks!

Ayala commits to Iowa

Drake Ayala of Fort Dodge, Iowa announced on Twitter that he will be an Iowa Hawkeye.  Ayala is ranked #1 or #2 in the major high school rankings at 120 lbs. and is considered an elite recruit in the Class of 2021. Ayala is a two-time defending state champion and was a runner-up as a freshman. Ayala won a Cadet and Junior Freestyle national title in Fargo 

Ayala chose Iowa over Iowa State, Ohio State, North Carolina, and Michigan.

With the tradition and environment that Iowa has in the lighter weights, Ayala will fit right in and has all of the tools to have a great career as an Iowa Hawkeye.

Iowa is following up an outstanding Recruiting Class of 2020 with an impressive and growing Class of 2021 that includes Wyatt Henson, Caleb Rathjen, and Cam Lucero. An elite recruit like Ayala will be a great addition to the Iowa Wrestling program.

Iowa Wrestling continues to tear it up on the recruiting trail and the future looks great.

It is great to be an Iowa Wrestling fan.

Go Hawks!

Iowa recruits in new rankings

With the high school season completed, Willie Saylor of MatScouts released his new ranking of the top high school wrestlers in the country.  In the Pound For Pound (P4P) Ranking for all weights and grades in the country combined, Patrick Kennedy is ranked #3 and Jesse Ybarra is ranked #14.  If you have been following my Iowa Wrestling Fan Blog and Podcast you know that I am very high on Kennedy and Ybarra. That is two elite recruits with a great future in the same recruiting class.

In the weight class rankings Kennedy is ranked #1 at 182 lbs. wrestling up a weight class. Kennedy is the leader of the incoming recruits and has a great future at 165/174 for the Hawks. Ybarra has went from fifth to #3 at 126.

Bretli Reyna is up one spot to #8 at 145. Wyatt Henson is #8 (up from #12) and Caleb Rathjen remained at #14 at 138. Gabe Christenson is #8 (up from #14) at 195. Cullan Schriever was not in the rankings in January and he is now #9 at 126.

It is great to see the Iowa recruits going up in the national rankings and by quite a bit. They certainly earned their new rankings.

Kennedy, Ybarra, Reyna, Christenson, and Schriever are in the outstanding Iowa Wrestling Recruiting Class of 2020.  Henson and Rathjen are in the Class of 2021. 

The complete list of the national high school rankings can be found under Willie Saylor of MatScouts at

The future of Iowa Wrestling looks great.


MatScouts Rankings in March 16, 2020

Patrick Kennedy, 182 lbs. – #1

Jesse Ybarra, 126 lbs. – #3

Bretli Reyna, 145 lbs. – #8

Wyatt Henson, 138 lbs. – #8

Gabe Christenson, 195 lbs. – #8

Cullan Schriever, 126 lbs. – #9

Caleb Rathjen, 138 lbs. – #14


It is great to be an Iowa Wrestling fan.

Go Hawks!


Gilman wins Pan-American Olympic Qualifier

Thomas Gilman of the Hawkeye Wrestling Club won the 57kg title at the Pan-American Olympic Qualifier in Ottawa, Canada.  By winning the tournament Gilman qualified the United States at 57kg for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Gilman had a great tournament.  After an opening round tech fall over Sadiku of Canada, Gilman faced two-time U23 World Champion Ortega of Cuba. Ortega defeated Gilman at the 2018 Pan-Ams.  Gilman fell behind 3-1 at break. In the closing seconds Gilman scored on a go behind for two to get the winning points for a 4-3 decision. It was easy to see that Ortega was tired and yet once again the legendary conditioning of Iowa Wrestling won a come from behind match.

In the Semifinals Gilman won by a tech fall over Ramirez-Beltre of Dominica.  Gilman won by a injury default in the Finals over Tigreros Urbano of Columbia. 

Along with Gilman at 57kg, Team USA also won titles to qualify weights in the 2020 Olympics with David Taylor (86kg) and Nick Gwiazdowsk (125kg). Zain Retherford placed third and did not qualify the United States at 65kg for the Olympics.

HWC Head Coach Mark Perry was on the trip to coach for Gilman and Kayla Miracle who also qualified her weight for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Great job Thomas Gilman and thank you for the great entertainment during trying times.


Champ. Round 1 – Thomas Gilman (USA) won by tech fall over Ligrit Sadiku (CAN) (TF 10-0)

Quarterfinal – Thomas Gilman (USA) won by decision over Reineri Andreu Ortega (CUBA) (Dec 4-3)

Semifinal – Thomas Gilman (USA) won by tech fall over Juan Rubelin Ramirez Beltre (DOM) (TF 11-0)

1st Place Match – Thomas Gilman (USA) won by injury default over Oscar Tigreros Urbano (COL) (Inj. 0:00)


It is great to be an Iowa Wrestling fan.

Go Hawks!

Miracle qualifies 62kg for the Olympics

Kayla Miracle of the Hawkeye Wrestling Club placed second at 62kg at the Pan-American Olympic Qualifier in Ottawa, Canada.  By placing in the top two Miracle qualified the United States at 62kg for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Miracle had a fall, 5-1 decision and tech fall in pool competition.  In the Championship Bracket she defeated Castillo of Columbia by a 11-0 tech fall. In the Finals, Miracle took a forfeit with the Olympic spot already secured to a wrestler from Brazil that she has soundly defeated three times in the last year.

It was a great day for Team USA with Sarah Hildebrandt (50 kg), Jacarra Winchester (53kg), and Helen Maroulis (57kg) also qualified their weights for the Olympics.  Adeline Gray (76kg) and Tamyra Mensah-Stock (68kg) qualified their weights for Team USA in the Olympics by winning a 2019 World title. Team USA will have a full team for the Olympics with all six weights qualified. 

HWC Head Coach Mark Perry was in Canada coaching for Miracle.

Thomas Gilman of the HWC will compete tomorrow to try and qualify Team USA at 57kg for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.  TrackWrestling will have live coverage starting at 9AM CST.

Congratulations Kayla Miracle and Team USA.


Round 1 – Kayla Miracle (USA) won by fall over Nathaly Herrera (VEN) (Fall 2:04)

Round 2 – Kayla Miracle (USA) won by decision over Alejandra Bonilla (MEX) (Dec 5-1)

Round 3 – Kayla Miracle (USA) won by tech fall over Jackeline Castillo (COL) (TF 11-0)

Championship Bracket – Kayla Miracle (USA) won by decision over Michelle Fazzari (CAN) (Dec 12-3)

1st Place Match – Lais Nunes (BRZ) won by forfeit over Kayla Colleen Kiyoko Miracle (USA) (FF)


It is great to be an Iowa Wrestling fan.

Go Hawks!


HWC Des Moines Banquet on May 1

The 2020 Hawkeye Wrestling Club Banquet will be on Friday, May 1 at the Downtown Marriott in Des Moines. This is a great event every year and an important fundraiser for the HWC. There will be updates from coaches and wrestlers. The doors open at 6 PM and the program will begin at 7 PM.

There will be a silent auction and a live auction. I will keep you up to date on my blog and podcast about the auctions.  

The banquet will provide a great opportunity for fans to meet their favorite wrestlers and coaches. 

The Des Moines area has provided great support for the HWC for decades. The 2018 HWC Banquet in Des Moines was a big success. 


To register for the HWC Des Moines Banquet:


HWC Des Moines Banquet

Friday, May 1

Doors open at 6 PM


Downtown Des Moines Marriott

700 Grand Avenue

Des Moines, Iowa 50309


It is great to be an Iowa Wrestling fan.

Go Hawks!


Iowa in the new Track and InterMat Rankings

New rankings by TrackWrestling and InterMat are out after the Conference and NCAA Qualifying Tournaments this weekend. The NCAA will release brackets to the National Tournament tomorrow (Wednesday) at 5 PM CST.  If the NCAA brackets look anything like these rankings, I will be very pleased.

The top three teams all remained the same in both rankings. Track had the total number of points for the team race reduced from both Iowa and Penn State. Track has Iowa in the lead by 39.5 points and InterMat by 53.5 points over #2 Penn State.  

Iowa had several wrestlers drop in the rankings but several went up.  Pat Lugo and Alex Marinelli are now ranked #1 by both Track and InterMat. Kaleb Young dropped the most by going from #6 to #18 by Track and #8 by InterMat. Young is eligible to receive an At-large bid to the the National Tournament after not placing at Big Tens. 

At-large bids will be announced by the NCAA at 2 PM CST today.

The anticipation for the NCAA National Tournament on March 19-21 continues to build.  What a great time of the year to be a wrestling fan.


TrackWrestling team rankings: March 10, 2020

  1. Iowa – 119.5 
  2. Penn State – 80
  3. Ohio State – 71
  4. Nebraska – 61.5


InterMat team rankings: March 10, 2020

  1. Iowa – 146
  2. Penn State – 92.5
  3. Ohio State – 78
  4. Nebraska – 60


Rankings by TrackWrestling/InterMat

125 Spencer Lee – 1/1

133 Austin DeSanto – 4/6

141 Max Murin – 8/7

149 Pat Lugo – 1/1

157 Kaleb Young – 18/-

165 Alex Marinelli – 1/1

174 Michael Kemerer – 2/2

184 Abe Assad – 9/10

197 Jacob Warner – 6/6

Hwt Tony Cassioppi – 3/3


It is great to be an Iowa Wrestling fan.

Go Hawks!

Spencer Lee named Wrestler of the Week

Spencer Lee has been named as the Iowa Wrestling Fan Blog & Podcast Wrestler of the Week. Lee dominated the field in winning his first Big Ten title at 125 lbs. After a Quarterfinal pin and a tech fall in the Semifinals, Lee defeated Devin Schroder of Purdue by a 16-2 major decision.  Schroder was ranked #6 in the country.

Lee has been dominating his competition this year and looks to be getting better with each match. A true junior from Murrysville, Pennsylvania and two-time NCAA National champion, Lee is 18-0 with 4 pins, 9 tech falls, 3 major decisions, and a forfeit.

Lee was named as the Big Ten Wrestler of the Year on Sunday and looks to be the front-runner for the Hodge Trophy. 

Lee will look to defend his title at 125 lbs. at the NCAA National Championships on March 19-21.

Congratulations Spencer Lee for being named as the Iowa Wrestling Fan Blog & Podcast Wrestler of the Week.   


Big Ten Championships:

Quarterfinals: #1 Spencer Lee (IA) over #17 Nic Augular (RU), Fall 2:53

Semifinals: #1 Spencer Lee (IA) over #22 Jack Medley (MICH) Tech Fall 19-3

Finals: #1 Spencer Lee (IA) over #6 Devin Schroder (PU) Maj Dec 16-2


Iowa Wrestling Fan Blog & Podcast Wrestler of the Week

November 19 – Nelson Brands and Zach Glazier

November 25 – Nelson Brands and Zach Glazier

December 2 – Tony Cassioppi.

December 9 – Jacob Warner

January 2 – Pat Lugo

January 14 – Alex Marinelli

January 21 – Abe Assad

January 28 – Austin DeSanto

February 4 – Michael Kemerer

February 11 – Kaleb Young and Zach Glazier

February 18 – Max Murin

February 25 – Pat Lugo

March 10 – Spencer Lee


It is great to be an Iowa Wrestling fan.

Go Hawks!


A rundown of Big Tens

The Iowa Wrestling team captured their first outright Big Ten title since 2010.  I wanted to share a few thoughts about the 2020 Big Ten Wrestling Championships.

For starters, what great wrestling to watch.  The overall depth and high quality wrestling that took place at Rutgers was very entertaining.  I was impressed and at times amazed at how good the wrestling was in several of the weights. The overall depth of the Big Ten continues to improve and I expect that trend to continue.

A quick rundown of the team:

125: Spence Lee is…Spencer Lee. There is really nothing else I can say.  I really, really liked the way that Lee opened up his matches by intentionally releasing his opponents to get another takedown.  That really opened up his matches and created scoring opportunities for him for back points as well. He is making a takedown against tough competition look easier than any wrestler that I have ever seen compete. Spencer Lee is still getting better. A lot better.

133: Austin DeSanto placed fourth in the toughest weight in the Big Ten Tournament.  The mix of quality and quantity at 133 lbs. in the Big Ten is amazing. DeSanto dropped two matches to two highly ranked wrestlers. I look for DeSanto to wrestle better at Nationals.

141: Max Murin dropped a close match with time running out in the Quarterfinals and dropped a match in the Consolation Semifinals. Murin has improved quite a bit from last year but still has to improve to make the stand at Nationals.  I definitely believe Max Murin has the skill set to have a good showing at Nationals.

149: Pat Lugo looked like what I had written about him last week.  The look of a confident senior that is on a mission. Lugo looked confident and smooth in winning his first Big Ten title.  His takedown in the finals was a new move that I have not seen out of him in a big match. It is great to see Lugo evolve and continue to improve.  Pat Lugo is the man to beat at 149 lbs.

157: Kaleb Young was 0-2 for the Big Tens and did not place.  That is rare for a #2 seed. Young is eligible for an at-large bid so he can still make it to Nationals.  The announcement will be made tomorrow. With a #6 ranking in the most recent D-I Coaches Ranking and a strong RPI ranking, I am hoping Young will get a bid to Nationals.

165: Alex Marinelli vs.Vincenzo Joseph of Penn State is always a great match to watch.  For the first time in four matches there was not a big six-point throw. Marinelli scored on a great double leg finish for a takedown in the last ten seconds of the match.  I am hoping these two meet in the NCAA Finals in two weeks.

174: Michael Kemerer vs. Mark Hall Part II was another entertaining match.  The points that Kemerer gave up in the danger zone was the difference in the match.  I did not like it but that is the rules. The takedown at the end of the match by Kemerer showed again that he can outlast Hall.  As with at 165, I am really hoping these two meet again in the NCAA Finals.

184: Abe Assad saw his first action since February 2 and placed fourth. Assad dropped a tough match in the Semifinals when he was unable to finish on several shots.  There isn’t a single thing that I saw out of Assad that cannot be fixed before Nationals. I really like his athleticism, strength, and desire to mix it up. Considering the long layoff and being a true freshman, Assad impressed me.  I believe the potential is there for Assad to have a real good showing at Nationals. 

197 Jacob Warner came in as the #3 seed and placed third.  The low point of the tournament was a loss in the Quarterfinals.  The bright spot was how Warner responded with solid wins. Warner looked the best of his career in the Consolation Finals. Should Warner take the momentum of what we saw on Sunday, he will be a real force at Nationals. 

Hwt: Tony Cassioppi wrestled to seed by placing third. Cassioppi looked good on Sunday and ended the tournament with a big pin over a quality opponent.  As I have been saying, Tony Cassioppi will score a lot of points for Iowa at Nationals.

Congratulations to Spencer Lee for being named as the Big Ten Wrestler of the Year. A much deserved honor as Lee has dominated his opponents all season in the very tough Big Ten. Also congratulations to Tom Brands for being named as the Big Ten Coach of the Year. Brands was also named for this honor in 2008, 2009, and 2010. 

The time between now and Nationals will fly by.  I have never seen a reaction on Social Media like I did yesterday and today from Iowa Wrestling fans. The Iowa Wrestling  Nation is excited.


Stats from Big Tens: 

This was the 36th Big Ten title in Iowa Wrestling history.  The most in the Big Ten.

157.5 was the most points scored by an Iowa team at Big Tens since 1995.

Three Big Ten champs is the most for an Iowa team since 2003.

All nine of the placewinners earned automatic bids to the NCAA Tournament.

Spencer Lee is the first Hawkeye named as Big Ten Wrestler of the Year since 2008. 

Tom Brands picked up his fourth Big Ten Coach of the Year award.

There were nine schools represented in the Big Ten Finals.



Wrestler of the Year: Spencer Lee, IOWA

Coach of the Year: Tom Brands, IOWA



  1. IOWA              157.5
  2. Nebraska         132
  3. Ohio State        112
  4. Penn State       107
  5. Purdue              83
  6. Northwestern  79.5
  7. Michigan           73
  8. Minnesota        63.4
  9. Wisconsin         62.5
  10. Michigan St     57    
  11. Illinois              49                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          
  12. Rutgers           25.5
  13. Indiana           14.5
  14. Maryland         0.0


It is great to be an Iowa Wrestling fan.

Go Hawks!