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Domination: An Inside Look at Iowa Wrestling

Notes from HWC practice

9:30 AM CST on Saturday, September 1, and the Iowa Wrestling room bleachers were filled with Iowa Wrestling fans.  F-I-V-E hours before kickoff for the Iowa football season and home opener. There were also fans along the wall and sidelines because there was no place to sit.  I believe there were more fans in the room yesterday than at any Saturday before a football game all of last year. And again, September 1. Yes folks, I would say that Iowa Wrestling fans are excited about the upcoming season.

The Hawkeye Wrestling Club had practice and there were Iowa Wrestlers working out.  For fans, this is our “Spring Training,” if you will. There was a buzz in the room for the upcoming season that does not begin for more than two months.  The NCAA Championships in Pittsburgh are more than 7 ½ months away. Iowa Wrestling fans are excited, and they should be.

I was sidetracked from watching practice for awhile, but for the best reason possible.  The Living Legend himself, Dan Gable walked in. It is still great to say that I know this guy and more importantly, that he knows me.  I talked to Gable about his new beer that is out. On Thursday, Gable was signing cans of the new Gable Munich Helles Lager by SingleSpeed Brewing at the Waterfront Hy-Vee in Iowa City.  Having the name Gable on a can of beer is so…Old School.

Gable said sales are going real well.  A shout out to SingleSpeed Brewing Company.  Proceeds from the Gable Munich Helles Lager is going to the Dan Gable Museum and Hall of Fame in Waterloo, Iowa.  I will have more about the Gable Munich Helles Lager in an upcoming blog.

Thomas Gilman is looking tough even by Thomas Gilman standards.  I have no idea how Gilman makes 57 kg/125 lbs. because he looks so big and powerful.  I really believe Gilman is much better than he was this time last year and he will make a great run for the World title at 57 kg. in October.  

I also saw new members of the Hawkeye Wrestling Club working out.  Having the HWC adding Forrest Molinari, Kayla Miracle, and Michaela Beck is a great move to bring in world class wrestlers that are competing at the highest level.  Molinari will be competing in the Women’s World Freestyle Championships in October and also at the U23 World Championships in November. Miracle will represent Team USA at the U23 World Championships in November.  Alli Ragan of the HWC will also represent Team USA at the Women’s World Freestyle Championships. To have that many World Team members is impressive.

Saturday also marked the first full day on the job for Bobby Telford as the new Volunteer Assistant Coach.  I hope to get an interview with Telford for an upcoming blog and podcast.

Wrestle offs are going to be unreal.  I stated in my Iowa Wrestling Fan Podcast on Friday that I thought that wrestle offs would be the best since the fall of 1990.  From what I saw on Saturday, the wrestle offs are going to be even better than I thought. There will be some great matches at the Iowa wrestle offs…in the semifinals.  And no, I have no idea who is going to win at least three weights: 141, 157, and 184. To me, those three weights are a toss up.

I always admire how accessible the Iowa coaches and wrestlers are to the fans after practice.  I saw numerous wrestlers posing for pictures and talking with fans of all ages. I do not take it for granted the type of quality people that are to be found in the Iowa Wrestling program.  Character, or lack thereof, has been a major topic in college football recently and it made me appreciate Iowa Wrestling even more.

That accessibility and appreciation of fans by the wrestlers and coaches is a big reason why the Iowa Wrestling Nation is the biggest and most dominating fanbase in all of college wrestling.  And it isn’t even close.

Here’s to hoping that we see more practices like this before upcoming home Iowa Football games on Saturday mornings.

Overall, I think the Iowa program is looking tough, focused, and hungry.  Gilman and Warner competing in upcoming World Championships, the HWC with the new addition of world class wrestlers, the coaching staff is in place, everything.  All of this only adds to the excitement of the upcoming season. As if we needed anything else.

It is great to be an Iowa Wrestling fan.

Go Hawks!


Recruiting Class of 2020 Wish List: Cael Happel

I had to go no further than my hometown of Lisbon, Iowa to add Cael Happel to my Recruiting Class of 2020 Wish List.  Happel has won a state title as a freshman (113 lbs.) and sophomore (120 lbs.) and is on track to be a four-time state champion.  Happel is currently ranked at #70 overall on the FloWrestling Class of 2020 list.

Happel made a big move for me this summer at Junior Nationals.  Competing as a sophomore in a bracket with upperclassmen, Happel made it to the Blood Round before being eliminated at 126 lbs.  That had to be one of the toughest weights in the entire tournament. Happel actually dropped his Blood Round match to the defending Junior national champion.  Happel defeated two ranked wrestlers in Fargo and had the best performance of his career on the national level.

I put a lot of emphasis on the level of improvement and background when evaluating a recruit.  Cael Happel has both bases very well covered. For starters, Happel has improved quite a bit in the last year and his best days of competition are well ahead of him.  I also give added value to the fact that Happel is from Lisbon, Iowa. Head coach Brad Smith, a former NCAA national champion at Iowa, has won more state titles than any coach in the history of Iowa high school wrestling.  The supporting staff of assistants will stack up against any in the state. Happel is very well coached and in a great environment to be the best that he can be. An added factor of his older brother Carter Happel already on the Iowa Wrestling roster could come into play as well.

Even though Happel does not have the national accolades, I believe he is an elite recruit because of two characteristics that I see in him.  The first being work ethic. Cael Happel has a great relationship with the weight room and workouts on his own. I have seen him for years running in Lisbon with a sweatshirt on a 90 degree plus humid Iowa summer afternoon to get his weight down for an upcoming tournament.  A wrestler working out on their own is something that cannot be coached. Either a wrestler has it or they do not. Cael Happel has it.

I believe that work ethic will also affect what weight Happel will compete at in college.  I look for Happel to be at 126/132 this season for Lisbon with a strong lean towards 132. With the regiment that Cael Happel follows, I see him competing at 141/149 in college.  157 may not be out of the question. This kid is going to grow and be a beast.

The second characteristic that stands out for Happel is his intensity and the way that he takes the task at hand very serious.  Cael Happel warms up and looks the same for a match against someone that he has pinned several time in the past as he would preparing for the State finals.  Having a serious approach shows attention to detail and an intensity that you like to see in recruits.  Happel is very focused on the task at hand and I really like that.

I have to believe that Happel’s work ethic, intensity, and total commitment to becoming a better wrestler will pay off.  Just give him time.

It is great to be an Iowa Wrestling fan.

Go Hawks!

Recruiting Class of 2020 Wish List: Cullan Schriever

Cullan Schriever of Mason City, Iowa in not only on my Recruiting Class of 2020 Wish List, but for quite a few wrestling fans across the country.  Schriever not only won a Junior National Freestyle title at 113 lbs. this summer, he did so in dramatic fashion. Falling behind 7-0 in the first period, Schriever battled back to win the match, 10-10 on criteria.  Now there isn’t an Iowa Wrestling fan out there does does not like the sounds of a great comeback.

Schriever is currently ranked #43 overall by FloWreslting in the Recruiting Class of 2020 and #3 at 113 lbs. for the upcoming season.

Schriever made a name for himself on the national scene when he won a Cadet National title in 2016 before his high school career even began.  Schriever has won a state title at 106 lbs. in each of his first two years for Mason City in dominating fashion. Schriever reminds me and others of Cory Clark.  That should be more than enough for you to want to see him in the Black and Gold of Iowa.

A common theme that you will see in my recruiting articles is that I always evaluate the rate that a recruit is still improving.  The key being that if they are not still improving, there is a very good chance that I will not be writing about them as a potential recruit.  With a wrestler that has already won two national titles at such a young age, it is even more important to evaluate the improvement curve. I see Cullan Schriever still progressing in leaps and bounds.  As good as Schriever is, I see him getting much better throughout his career.

It will be interesting to see how big Schriever gets.  I believe he is wrestling 113 lbs. this season as a junior.  With his frame, I would still list him at 125/133 for college. Who knows, he may end up being way bigger than that. Regardless of what weight class Schriever ends up at, it is easy to predict that I believe he will be a real force in college wrestling.

An added perk for Schriever is that he trains out of the Sebolt Wrestling Academy.  I tend to think a little more a recruit when they are either from an elite high school program or an elite wrestling club.  I would have to think that the Sebolt Wrestling Academy would be considered one of the top wrestling clubs in Iowa, or even the best.

Look for Schriever to attract a lot of college recruiters from not only around the midwest, but from around the country.

It is great to be an Iowa Wrestling fan.

Go Hawks.

Recruiting Class of 2020 Wish List: Dustin Plott

In the second segment of my Iowa Wrestling Recruiting Class of 2020 Wish List, I am going to shine the light on Dustin Plott from Tuttle, Oklahoma.  Plott is just entering his junior year of high school and he is already very well known as one of the best high school wrestler in the country. Plott is currently ranked #4 behind three seniors at 170 lbs. by FloWrestling.  In the Flo Class of 2020 rankings, Plott is ranked as the second best overall recruit for his class.

I was able to see Plott compete in person in Las Vegas at the UWW Junior Nationals in April.  As a high school sophomore at 74 kg/163 lbs., Plott was competing against nearly all college wrestlers that had anywhere from 1-3 years of college experience on him.  What Plott did was very impressive. After opening the tournament with two tech falls, in the quarterfinals Plott defeated Kaleb Romero of Ohio State, 12-8. Romero was the number one high school wrestler in the country at 170 lbs. in 2017 and is in line to be in the starting lineup at Ohio State this year as a redshirt freshman.  To have a sophomore in high school wrestling at that elite of a level is very impressive.

In the semifinals, Plott defeated Tyler Dow from Wisconsin, 13-11.  In the finals, Plott dropped an 8-6 decision to our own Jeremiah Moody.

At Junior Nationals, Plott placed second at 170 lbs. and had a very good tournament.  With the performance that Plott had at UWW Junior Nationals and Junior Nationals, I believe he is if anything underrated.  This guy is a real goer. His stylish is entertaining. What I like the most about Plott is that even though he is at a very high level right now, I look for him to get much, much better.  I always look for recruits that are still improving and have not already reached their peak. Plott is still improving at a high level and he has a tremendous upside.

Considering that Plott won his high school state title as a sophomore at 160 last February and competed at 163 and 170 this spring and summer, I project him to be at 174 in college.

As far as a recruit in Oklahoma, Iowa Wrestling did sign Mark Perry out of Stillwater, OK in 2003.

I will have additional installments of my Class of 2020 Wish List released throughout the week.

It is great to be an Iowa Wrestling Fan.

Go Hawks!

Recruiting Class of 2020 Wish List: Robert Howard

A new school year has began and it is time to look at the Iowa Wrestling Recruiting Class of 2020.  Wrestling coaches across America can make their first in-home visit with a recruit in the Class of 2020 beginning at Midnight on Saturday, September 1.  As a recruiting fan, that excites me.

I will have a series of blogs this week presenting my Iowa Wrestling Recruiting Class of 2020 Wish List.  Iowa has already received a verbal commitment from Patrick Kennedy of Kasson-Mantorville, MN. Kennedy is a huge get for the Hawks and a great start to the 2020 recruiting class.  Coming out of the same high school program as Sam Stoll with former Iowa All American Jamie Heidt as head coach, Kennedy is a very physical and strong wrestler that will definitely entertain Iowa Wrestling fans. I see Kennedy competing at 165 for his career at Iowa and he has a great future in front of him.  I will have a future blog on Kennedy and will be following all of his matches this upcoming season.

Next up on the 2020 Recruiting Wish List is Robert Howard of Cranford, New Jersey.  Howard competes for national powerhouse Bergen Catholic where he won a New Jersey State title this past year at 120 lbs. as a sophomore. Howard was ranked number one at 120 lbs. this past season and is already ranked number one in the country at 126 lbs. for the upcoming season.

Howard has represented Team USA at the Cadet World Freestyle Championships the last two years and placed ninth this year.  Howard will represent Team USA at 55 kg/121 lbs. at the Summer Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018. Competition will take place in Buenos Aires, Argentina on Friday – Sunday, October 12-14.

Howard is ranked #5 on the FloWrestling P4P (Pound for Pound) rankings for all high school wrestlers and is also their #1 wrestler at 126 lbs.

With this type of credentials, you have to think that every college in the country will be pursuing Howard to be on their team.  The heck with the credentials, go out online and see what Howard looks like in competition. This guy in one constant flurry and goes after his opponents with aggression, technique, and conditioning at an elite level.  Howard has the type of style that will entertain you every time you see him wrestle.

Having competed internationally in two World championships and soon a Youth Olympics before the beginning of his junior season in high school, Howard will have the type of experience that will make for a smooth transition into college wrestling.

Howard has had success at every level of his career and I look for that trend to continue.

I see Howard competing at 125/133 in college.  

Look for the recruiting of Howard to be at a fever pitch as colleges try to get a commitment from the top lightweight wrestler in the country for the Recruiting Class of 2020.

I will have a blog on additional potential recruits on my Wish List for the Class of 2020 throughout the rest of the week.  

It is great to be an Iowa Wrestling fan.

Go Hawks!

HWC welcomes four new wrestlers

The Hawkeye Wrestling Club announced the addition of four wrestlers joining the club. These are all great editions to the HWC. Having three women wrestlers join the club also helps further solidify the commitment that the HWC has to promoting women’s wrestling.

Forrest Molinari, 65 kg.  Molinari recently made her first Women’s World team at 65 kg by winning the Final X series. She is currently ranked #3 in the world. Molinari will represent Team USA in the Women’s World Freestyle Championships in October in Budapest, Hungary.  Molinari will also represent Team USA at the U23 World Championships in November in Bucharest, Romania.

Kayla Miracle, 62 kg.  Miracle just wrapped up her collegiate career as a four-time WCWA national champion at Campbellsville University.  Miracle is currently ranked #1 in the world at 62 kg and will represent Team USA at the U23 World Championships in November.

Michaela Beck, 57 kg.  Beck placed second at the U.S. Open this past spring as a senior in high school and placed second in the 2018 World Team Trials this summer.  Her mom was a graduate of the University of Iowa.

Nodirjon Safarov, 57 kg.  Safarov is a world class wrestler at 57 kg who placed 8th in the 2017 World Freestyle Championships.  He actually dropped a match to our own Thomas Gilman in the quarterfinals of the World’s last year. Safarov will compete for his home country of Uzbekistan at the World Championships in Budapest in October.  The level of competition for the light weights just went up another notch in the Iowa Wrestling room with this edition.

This is all great news to see the HWC continue to grow and bring in world class elite wrestlers.

The HWC is an integral part of the success of Iowa Wrestling.  Do you want to be a part of helping Iowa Wrestling win? Contribute to the HWC.

To join the Inner Circle of the Hawkeye Wrestling Club:

It is great to be an Iowa Wrestling Fan.

Go Hawks!

Iowa Wrestling Coaches Clinic October 19-20

The Iowa Wrestling Coaches Clinic will be held on October 19-20.  Part of the admission will include a football ticket to the Iowa-Maryland Homecoming football game.  The additional buzz and excitement of Homecoming should make this coaches clinic even better. When you factor in how excited fans are for the 2019 edition of Iowa Wrestling, this will be a great environment to be a part of.

Iowa Wrestling always brings in a top flight wrestler or coach to show technique and answer questions for the attending coaches.  It is a great value for a coach to have that type of access to ask questions about technique and training. And you can’t beat the environment of being in the Iowa Wrestling room.

Check in begins at 4:30 PM on Friday, October 19th in the Dan Gable Wrestling Complex, home of Iowa Wrestling. Iowa Wrestling will more than likely have a practice on Saturday morning before the football game. If you have never been to an Iowa Wrestling practice in the fall before a big football game like homecoming, you need to experience it.  It is at least as good and in some ways even better than going to a big Iowa Wrestling dual meet.

More details including registration will be released at a future date.  I will keep you informed.

It is great to be an Iowa Wrestling fan.

Go Hawks!

It is a new year of Iowa Wrestling

As far as I am concerned, the start of classes at the University of Iowa is the official start of a new Iowa Wrestling season.  Well wrestling fans, classes started yesterday so the 2018-2019 Iowa Wrestling season has started.

The “Offseason” starts at the end of the NCAA’s in March and ends with the start of classes.  In all of my years of following Iowa Wrestling, we just ended the greatest offseason that I can remember.  I have never seen that type of excitement from recruiting. Between recruits and transfers, there is a lot to be excited about. Iowa Wrestling had incredible momentum throughout the entire offseason. Now it is time to move on to the next phase.

I mentioned in my podcast last week that this was always a great time of the year.  The locust are being heard and it is still hot and humid in August, but it is a new beginning.  A new year for Iowa Wrestling.

Here is a list of what I keep an eye on at this time of year.

  1. This is the time of year when you get your first look of the incoming freshman.  There is always talk of how good the recruits really are. The most impressive true freshman that I can remember making an immediate impact in the Iowa Wrestling room over the years was Lincoln McIlravy in 1992.  The Destroyer, as I call him, was amazing right out of the gate. It was very easy to see how special McIlravy was right away.
  2. The huge improvement that last year’s incoming recruits is always easy to see on that one year anniversary of them being in the program.  They no longer look like they are right out of high school. The transformation that you see Iowa wrestlers make in that first year never ceases to amaze me.  They go from struggling to get a takedown to making their presence felt that they are a serious contender for a varsity spot for the upcoming season.
  3. How much the wrestlers grew since the end of March.  There is always at least one surprise of a wrestler that hit a growth spurt and jumped up a weight class or more.  This is the time of year that I am reminded that wrestlers in their late teens and early twenties can grow a lot in five months.
  4. Seeing which Iowa Wrestlers made huge strides in their wrestling is always great to see.  It is like Iowa Wrestlers put in all of the brutal work and then BOOM!. They make a huge stride in the room from being good to being “The Man.”  That improvement can hit in a hurry and in the matter of a couple of weeks the pecking order will change in the room as the next superstar emerges.  There is always a buzz in the room as you see which wrestlers emerge and take their performance to the next level.
  5. The overall buzz of excitement that you feel, a vibe if you will, that comes from the team.  There is an added sense of urgency in the Fall as the wrestlers are finding where their place is in the program.
  6. What will the lineup be for Iowa Wrestling?  What weight is everyone going? Fans like us will be asking those questions quite a bit this time of year.  Looking ahead to wrestle offs, there will be some great matches to see who earns the privilege of wearing the Black and Gold singlet of Iowa Wrestling.

I can remind myself that it is still August.  However, the live action of the 2018-2019 Iowa Wrestling season cannot start soon enough.

Let’s get ‘em in the middle.

Go Hawks!


Cassioppi and Moody win FS Gold at Jr Pan Ams

Anthony Cassioppi and Jeremiah Moody of the University of Iowa both won Gold medals in freestyle at the 2018 Junior Pan American Championships in Fortaleza, Brazil. Cassioppi rolled to his second straight sweep as he repeated as a Gold medalist in both Greco-Roman and Freestyle. In the freestyle portion, Cassioppi won four matches including two by tech fall to win the title.  On Friday, Cassioppi was 4-0 with three tech falls and a fall in the finals. For his performance in the GR, Cassioppi was named as the Outstanding Wrestler and awarded the Golden Boot.

Moody had a great tournament in capturing the title at 74 kg/163 lbs.  Moody began with a tech fall and then a fall in the semifinals. In the finals, Moody faced Ty Bridgwater of Canada who had tech falled his way to the finals. Moody won a thrilling 12-10 match to win the Gold.

Moody, who will be a redshirt junior this fall from Cambridge, Wisconsin, also won the UWW Junior National title in Las Vegas in April.  Moody went on to place second at the UWW Junior World Team Trials. Moody was 13-4 last season competing at 165.

Cassioppi, from Hononegah High School (Roscoe, IL), will be a true freshman when classes begin tomorrow. Cassioppi wrapped up a very impressive high school career this summer by winning his second straight Triple Crown by winning national titles in Folkstyle, Freestyle, and Greco-Roman.  You can now add his second straight year of winning a Gold medal in Freestyle and Greco-Roman at the Pan American Championships.

What a great momentum push for Iowa Wrestling as classes for the new year begin tomorrow morning.

Great job to Jeremiah Moody and Anthony Cassioppi for representing Team USA and bringing home three Gold medals.

It is great to be an Iowa Wrestling fan.

Go Hawks!


Freestyle 74 kg

  • Quarterfinal – Jeremiah Christopher Moody (UNITED STATES) won by tech fall over Juan Ignacio Palma Francis (ECUADOR) (TF 10-0)
  • Semifinal – Jeremiah Christopher Moody (UNITED STATES) won by fall over Marcos Roberto Quesada Martinez (PERU) (Fall 1:15)
  • Finals – Jeremiah Christopher Moody (UNITED STATES) won by decision over Ty Stuart Bridgwater (CANADA) (Dec 12-10)


Freestyle 125 kg

  • Round 5 – Anthony Lawrence Cassioppi (UNITED STATES) won by decision over Aly Medhat Abde Barghout (CANADA) (Dec 7-4)
  • Round 2 – Anthony Lawrence Cassioppi (UNITED STATES) won by decision over Andrew Jeffrey Gunning Alegre (PERU) (Dec 3-1)
  • Round 3 – Anthony Lawrence Cassioppi (UNITED STATES) won by tech fall over Jose Rodrigo Diaz Ponciano (GUATEMALA) (TF 10-0) 0:56
  • Round 4 – Anthony Lawrence Cassioppi (UNITED STATES) won by tech fall over Marcos Carrozzino (BRAZIL) (TF 11-0)


Greco-Roman 130 kg

  • Round 1 – Anthony Lawrence Cassioppi (UNITED STATES) won by tech fall over Samir Mauricio Vargas Valor (COLOMBIA) (TF 8-0)
  • Round 2 – Anthony Lawrence Cassioppi (UNITED STATES) won by tech fall over Andrew Jeffrey Gunning Alegre (PERU) (TF 9-0)
  • Round 3 – Anthony Lawrence Cassioppi (UNITED STATES) received a bye () (Bye)
  • Championship Bracket – Anthony Lawrence Cassioppi (UNITED STATES) won by tech fall over Diego Jesus Almendras Rodriquez (CHILE) (TF 9-0)
  • 1st Place Match – Anthony Lawrence Cassioppi (UNITED STATES) won by fall over Paul Baltazar Morales Bojorquez (MEXICO) (Fall 1:23)


Cassioppi rolls to Jr Pan Am GR title

Incoming Iowa freshman Anthony Cassioppi rolled to a Gold medal at the 2018 Junior Pan American Wrestling Championships in Fortaleza, Brazil.  After winning his first three matches by tech fall, Cassioppi pinned Bojorquez of Mexico in 1:23 to win the Greco-Roman title at 130 kg.  Last year Cassioppi won a Gold in both the Greco-Roman and Freestyle Pan Ams.

Cassioppi, from Hononegah High School (Roscoe, IL), will be a true freshman when classes begin next week.

Cassioppi and Iowa teammate Jeremiah Moody (74 kg) will compete in the Freestyle portion of the Junior Pan Ams beginning at 8 AM CST Sunday.

Sunday, August 19: Men’s Freestyle

Qualification Rounds and repechage:  8AM CST

Finals: 4 PM CST

It is great to be an Iowa Wrestling fan.

Go Hawks!

GR 130 kg

  • Round 1 – Anthony Lawrence Cassioppi (UNITED STATES) won by tech fall over Samir Mauricio Vargas Valor (COLOMBIA) (TF 8-0)
  • Round 2 – Anthony Lawrence Cassioppi (UNITED STATES) won by tech fall over Andrew Jeffrey Gunning Alegre (PERU) (TF 9-0)
  • Round 3 – Anthony Lawrence Cassioppi (UNITED STATES) received a bye () (Bye)
  • Championship Bracket – Anthony Lawrence Cassioppi (UNITED STATES) won by tech fall over Diego Jesus Almendras Rodriquez (CHILE) (TF 9-0)
  • 1st Place Match – Anthony Lawrence Cassioppi (UNITED STATES) won by fall over Paul Baltazar Morales Bojorquez (MEXICO) (Fall 1:23)