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Domination: An Inside Look at Iowa Wrestling

Hawks to be inducted into Glen Brand HOF

Iowa Wrestling will have a strong presence at the Glen Brand Hall of Fame inductions this Friday, June 25. The ceremony will take place at Prairie Links Golf and Event Center Banquet Room in Waverly, Iowa.  The Induction Ceremony will be at 6:30 PM. The Glen Brand Hall of Fame is a part of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum in Waterloo, Iowa.

Glen Brand Class of 2021

The Iowa Wrestling teams of 1991 and 1992. In my opinion this is the best college wrestling team of all time.  

Zaputil-Brands-Brands-Steiner-Steiner-Ryan-Reiland-Chelesvig-Fiser-Oostendorp.

All ten of these wrestlers were at least a two-time All American and nine of them placed in the top 3 in the country in 1991 or 1992, four of them won at least one NCAA title and two others were an NCAA Finalist.

This was a team that dominated college wrestling for two years unlike any other team before or since.  These teams were not really even challenged at the NCAA Championships for legendary head coach Dan Gable.  Long overdo for this honor.

 

Mike DeAnna: A coveted four-time All-American for the Hawks and the fifth ever four time Big Ten champion in conference history, DeAnna placed third, sixth, second, and second at the NCAA Championships.  DeAnna is remembered for being a part of what many people say is the greatest college wrestling match of all time when he defeated three-time NCAA champion Mark Churella of Michigan in overtime of the 1979 167 lbs. Big Ten finals by the score of 20-18.

 

Bowlsby Family Legacy Award

The Happel family of Lisbon, Iowa.  Dean Happel was a three time state champion at Lisbon before wrestling for Dan Gable at the University of Iowa.  His sons Carter and Cael were both four-time state champions at Lisbon.  Carter recently graduated from the University of Iowa where he was a four year letter winner and a member of the 2021 NCAA National Championship Iowa Wrestling team. Cael just finished his true freshman year at UNI. Dean, Carter and Cael all wrestled for head coach Brad Smith at Lisbon who was a 1976 NCAA national champion at the University of Iowa.

 

Bob Steenlage Iowa High School Wrestler of the Year

Drake Ayala of Fort Dodge. Ayala was a three time state champion at Fort Dodge where he racked up a 171-3 career record as a four time finalist.  Ayala has won two national titles in freestyle and a Super 32 title.  Ayala will be a freshman at the University of Iowa this fall.

 

2021 Glen Brand Hall of Fame Ceremony

Friday, June 25

4:30 p.m. Reception

5:30 p.m. Banquet

6:30 p.m. Induction Ceremony

 

Prairie Links Golf & Event Center Banquet Room

19 Eagle Ridge Dr.

Waverly, Iowa 50677

 

For more information contact the Dan Gable Museum at: 

Phone: (319) 233-0745

Email: dgmstaff@nwhof.org

 

It is great to be an Iowa Wrestling fan.

Go Hawks!

 

Iowa recruits lead Iowa to Junior Duals title

Incoming recruits Drake Ayala and Caleb Rathje were key contributors in Team Iowa capturing the Junior Duals National title this past weekend in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Ayala was 7-0 with seven tech falls and outscored his opponents by a combined 77-5 in match points. Rathje was 6-1 with four tech falls. Rathje dropped an 8-7 decision to Jordan Williams of Oklahoma who has been ranked as the #5 overall recruit in the Class of 2022.

Iowa was 7-0 in duals and defeated Oklahoma in the finals 40-23 for the first title for Iowa since 2005.

Ayala (Ft. Dodge, IA) and Rathjen (Ankeny, IA) will be freshman this fall at the University of Iowa as members of the Recruiting Class of 2021. 

Ryan Morningstar of the University of Iowa was head coach for Team Iowa and was a member of the Junior Duals title team for Iowa in 2005.

This Iowa team was absolutely loaded with D-I recruits.  As I mentioned in a previous blog it will be interesting to look back in a couple of years to see how many future Iowa Wrestling teammates were on this team.  I am hoping for quite a few.

 

Drake Ayala – 126 lbs.

Drake Ayala (Iowa) over Ian Branch (Arkansas) TF 10-0

Drake Ayala (Iowa) over Parker Janssen (Minnesota Red) TF 10-0

Drake Ayala (Iowa) over Brennen Cernus (Ohio Red) TF 10-0

Drake Ayala (Iowa) over Andre Gonzales (California) TF 11-1

Drake Ayala (Iowa) over Brayden Sonnentag (Team Wisconsin) TF 10-0

Drake Ayala (Iowa) over Vincent Robinson (Illinois JR FS) TF 13-2

Drake Ayala (Iowa) over Jayce Caviness (Oklahoma Outlaws FS Red) TF 13-2

 

Caleb Rathje – 145 lbs.

Caleb Rathjen (Iowa) over Raphael Marascio (Arkansas) TF 10-0

Caleb Rathjen (Iowa) over Kyle Boeke (Minnesota Red) TF 10-0

Caleb Rathjen (Iowa) over Kael Voinovich (Ohio Red) TF 10-0

Caleb Rathjen (Iowa) over Nicco Ruiz (California) Dec 13-6

Caleb Rathjen (Iowa) over Matthew Bianchi (Team Wisconsin) Dec 10-5

Caleb Rathjen (Iowa) over Tommy Curran (Illinois JR FS) TF 16-6

Jordan Williams (Oklahoma Outlaws FS Red) over Caleb Rathjen (Iowa) Dec 8-7

 

Team Iowa – Junior Duals National Champions

Iowa defeated Arkansas 64-1

Iowa defeated Minnesota Red 50-12

Iowa defeated Ohio Red 50-14

Iowa defeated California 36-27

Iowa defeated Wisconsin 47-17

Iowa defeated Illinois 41-23

Iowa defeated Oklahoma Outlaws 40-23

 

It is great to be an Iowa Wrestling fan.

Go Hawks!

 

Iowa recruits competing at Junior National Duals

Future Iowa Hawkeyes Drake Ayala and Caleb Rathjen will be competing at Junior National Duals in Tulsa, Oklahoma this weekend.  Junior Duals attracts teams from around the country and always has tough competition.

Ayala (Ft. Dodge, IA) and Rathjen (Ankeny, IA) will be freshman this fall at the University of Iowa as members of the Recruiting Class of 2021.  Ayala will be competing at 126 lbs. and Rathjen will be at 145 lbs. at Junior Duals.

Action will begin today and conclude with the final round on Saturday.  TrackWrestling is covering this event with Pay-Per-View and results are listed after every dual as well.

Head Coach for Team Iowa will be Ryan Morningstar of the University of Iowa.

Iowa looks to possibly have their best team since they last won Junior Duals in 2005.  This Iowa team is loaded with D-I wrestling talent that will be watched closely by college recruiters. It will be interesting to look back in a couple of years to see how many future Iowa Wrestling teammates were on this team.  I am hoping for quite a few.

It is great to be an Iowa Wrestling fan.

Go Hawks!

Lee awarded the Big Ten Medal of Honor

Spencer Lee has been awarded as the 2021 University of Iowa Big Ten Medal of Honor as selected by the UI Athletic Department. Lee is a champion on and off the mat. 

From HawkeyeSports.com:

The Big Ten Medal of Honor is the conference’s most exclusive award, and the first of its kind in intercollegiate athletics to recognize academic and athletic excellence. The Big Ten Medal of Honor was first awarded in 1915 to one male and one female student-athlete from the graduating class of each university who had “attained the greatest proficiency in athletics and scholastic work.”

Lee has won three NCAA titles at 125 lbs. and led the Iowa Hawkeyes to the 2021 NCAA National team title.  Originally from Murrysville, Pennsylvania, Lee was named to the NWCA All-Academic Team last week.

Lee will be closing out his historic career for the Hawks this coming season.  As a fan I am going to appreciate it because we may never see anyone like Spencer Lee again.

Congratulations to Spencer Lee and Iowa Wrestling for this prestigious honor.

It is great to be an Iowa Wrestling fan.

Go Hawks!

Morningstar to coach Team Iowa at Nationals

Iowa Assistant Wrestling Coach Ryan Morningstar will again be the IA/USA Freestyle Head Coach. Morningstar will serve as head coach for Team Iowa at Junior Freestyle Duals in Tulsa, OK on June 18-19 and Cadet/Junior Freestyle Nationals in Fargo, ND on July 17-20. Morningstar has held this position since 2019.

Morningstar has been involved with IA/USA Wrestling as a volunteer coach for Junior Duals and Junior Nationals since 2012 and just completed his tenth season as an assistant wrestling coach for the University of Iowa.

Originally from Lisbon, Iowa where he won three state titles (2003-2005), Morningstar was a two-time Junior Freestyle All-American. He placed 5th at 152 lbs. in 2004 and captured a Junior National title at 152 lbs. in 2005.  As a member of the University of Iowa Wrestling program, Morningstar was a two-time All-American at 165 lbs. in 2009 and 2010 and was a member of three NCAA national championship teams (2008, 2009, and 2010).

It is great to be an Iowa Wrestling fan.

Go Hawks!

Recruiting timeline

The recruiting scene went from absolutely nothing for over a year to a thousand miles and hour.  The race is on to get the verbal commitments from recruits and to then follow through on signing day. The prize is to get the recruits to sign and make it official.  A verbal commitment is nothing without the signed letter of intent.

Dates to remember:

Class of 2022 National Letter of Intent Signing Day – Wednesday, November 10, 2021 at 7 AM CST.

Class of 2023 National Letter of Intent Signing Day – Wednesday, November 9, 2022 at 7 AM CST.

We are now less than five months away from Signing Day for the Class of 2022 and the countdown has begun. Let’s take a look at a timeline for college wrestling recruiting.

For starters with the unique situation that we are working our way out of, I predict that recruiting will be a huge rush in October and right up to National Letter of Intent Signing Day. The anticipation of the upcoming season and recruitment in play, October and early November will be jammed packed full of excitement for Iowa Wrestling fans.

More so than any other year the upcoming tournaments this summer will play a more influential role in recruiting than ever before.  There could be some great wrestlers out there that had a reduced season of competition without the big national caliber tournaments to showcase their talent or even a state tournament or regular season last year. We may not even know of a recruit right now that will be an absolute must get in six weeks.  

With that thought in mind I believe that Junior Duals in Tulsa, Oklahoma next weekend will be huge for recruiting.  I am hoping that quite a few top wrestlers show up in Tulsa.  I believe the Iowa Junior team has the potential to be the best out of our state since we won it in 2005.  Iowa Wrestling has some really top recruits right in their backyard at a level not seen since 2005.  I will be keeping a real close eye on Team Iowa for Cadet and Junior Duals. Cadet Duals have already started for the weekend in Indiana. 

Of course the biggest wrestling tournament in the World, Cadet and Junior Nationals will be huge in Fargo in July.  We should have some new names to follow that we picked up from Cadet/Junior Duals to follow at Fargo in what looks to be a great display for recruiting.

Super 32s on October 23-24 is always a treasure trove of recruits from around the country.  You can bet the Iowa Wrestling coaching staff will be there again this year.  

I always look at the Iowa Football schedule when it comes out already looking forward to Saturday morning wrestling practices before a big game.  Those are great days that I look forward to.  The football home opener will be the Saturday of Labor Day weekend.  I am really hoping for Iowa Wrestling fans that everything is fully opened up so that fans can go in and watch a workout.  

That is before the season officially starts but the Hawkeye Wrestling Club usually has a practice for fans to watch.  If you have never been to a wrestling practice on a home football Saturday, you’re really missing out.  It is amazing and in some ways better than a big home dual meet.  Yup.

The peak of recruiting excitement is when the recruits are in town.  There is nothing better.  There is a chance there will be recruits in town for every home football game through October. The dates that stand out to me for home football game Saturdays are October 9 against Penn State and October 16 with Purdue for Homecoming.  A time has not been set yet for the Penn State game.  That is usually a night game in Kinnick and I would be leaning for that to happen again this year.  I could see some recruits in town for that one.

However I am looking at a 2:30 PM kickoff for Purdue at Homecoming as the best chance to be our biggest recruiting weekend.  After a year away for most fans I look for Homecoming to be great.  I am expecting a huge crowd in town and plenty of Iowa Wrestling legends in the room for practice.  What a great environment for a recruit and to just be an Iowa Hawkeye. Maybe Iowa has quite a few recruits on both October 9 and 16.  Either way, Iowa City will be a buzz with excitement and provide a great environment for the recruits.

I am very confident that Iowa Wrestling fans will be very pleased with the recruiting class of 2022 and 2023.

I have been saying for years that Ryan Morningstar is the best college wrestling recruiter in the country and there is nobody better than Tom Brands at closing the deal for a commitment from a recruit.

 

  1. Morningstar will find them.
  2. Tommy will sign them.
  3. Terry will train them.

 

Recruiting Timeline:

June 1: Recruiting for Class of 2022 is in full effect

June 9-12: 16U/Cadet Duals in Westfield, Indiana

June 15: Coaches may call the Class of 2023

June 15-19: Junior Duals in Tulsa, OK

July 16-23: 16U/Cadet-Junior Nationals in Fargo, ND 

August 1: Recruiting for Class of 2023 is in full effect

September 4: Indiana home football game 2:30 PM kickoff

September 18: Kent State home football game 2:30 PM kickoff

September 25: Colorado State home football game TBD

October 9: Penn State home football game TBD

October 16: Purdue home football game (Homecoming) 2:30 PM kickoff

October 23-24: Super 32s in Greensboro, North Carolina

November 8-11: Dead Period for recruiting

Class of 2022 National Letter of Intent Signing Day – Wednesday, November 10, 2021 at 7 AM CST.

Class of 2023 National Letter of Intent Signing Day – Wednesday, November 9, 2022 at 7 AM CST.

 

It is great to be an Iowa Wrestling fan.

Go Hawks!

 

Five Hawks named to NWCA All-Academic Team

Five members of the national championship Iowa Wrestling team have been named to the 2021 National Wrestling Coaches Association Division I All-Academic Team.  Spencer Lee, Michael Kemerer, Kaleb Young, Jacob Warner and Tony Cassioppi have been chosen for this prestigious honor.

To be named to the team, the student-athlete 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-American honors.

This is the fourth time that Lee and Kemerer have been named for this honor, Warner and Young their third, and Cassioppi is a two-time honoree.

Iowa Wrestling has received 47 NWCA academic honors since Tom Brands was named head coach in 2006.

When you have half of the starting lineup from an NCAA National championship team named for this academic honor, that is impressive.

Iowa Wrestling getting it done at the highest levels on that mat and in the classroom.

It is great to be an Iowa Wrestling fan.

Go Hawks.

Recruiting is back, so am I

Hello wrestling fans.  Recruiting is back for Iowa Wrestling and so am I. Let’s get to work.

Since March of 2020 recruiting has been shut down for NCAA Division I Wrestling.  From my understanding a college wrestling coach could not attend a state wrestling tournament because they could not be in the same room as a potential recruit.  Unprecedented, but in the past.  It is time to move forward.

As of Tuesday, June 1 wrestling coaches may begin recruiting the graduating class of 2022.  This is late in the process compared to past years but that is the way it is.  It has been fairly quiet across the country this past week.  I look for the recruiting process to steadily pick up momentum as the summer progresses.  I also believe there will be many more announcements made this fall for the class of 2022.   

Recruits can show up on campus for their official visit as well as welcome coaches into their home for official visits.  I have no doubt that college wrestling coaches are hitting the recruiting trail at a fever pitch.

For the class of 2023 that will be a junior this fall in high school the dates for recruiting has also been released.  College wrestling coaches may call recruits starting on Tuesday, June 15.  Coaches may make their official in-house visit starting on Sunday, August 1. The August 1 date is significant because it will be after Cadet and Junior Nationals.  Coaches will have their target recruits lined up and ready for their visit.

I look for more top recruits to be competing than ever at Cadet and Junior Duals.  Cadet/16U Freestyle and Greco Roman Duals begin tomorrow on June 9.  Junior Duals for Freestyle and Greco Roman begin on June 15.   I cannot wait for Cadet and Junior Nationals in Fargo beginning on July 16. After a year of having so much wrestling shut down I expect fireworks in Fargo.  

I have stated this numerous times in the past and I will keep saying it because I believe it to be true.  Ryan Morningstar is the best college wrestling recruiter in the country and Tom Brands is as good as it gets at closing the deal for a commitment from a recruit.  

I am very confident that Iowa Wrestling fans will be really pleased with who the Hawks bring in for the Recruiting Class of 2022 and 2023.

I will keep you up to date right here.

It is great to be an Iowa Wrestling fan.

Go Hawks!

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!