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!