Amateur Wrestling news, gear and photos from the side of the mat.

Blog Archives

Brands on likely Kinnick wrestling dual. May shatter NCAA attendance record.

July 30th, 2015 by Tom

hawked outdoor wrestling

All signs are pointing to a wrestling dual meet and a national attendance record going down Nov. 14 at Kinnick Stadium.

Reached by phone Wednesday afternoon, Iowa wrestling coach Tom Brands said, “There’s something big coming. And we’re excited about it.”

The University of Iowa isn’t going as far to say the Hawkeyes will definitely host an outdoor wrestling dual (in what could be near-freezing temperatures) prior to that night’s 7 p.m. football game vs. Minnesota in Iowa City, nor is it confirming the opponent. Wrestling spokesman Chris Brewer said the 2015-16 schedule is not ready to be released.

“Our staff has been working on a significant and very exciting project involving our wrestling program,” said Rick Klatt, the UI’s associate athletics director for external relations. “We are just about done dotting all of the I’s and crossing all of the T’s in the planning process.”

The wrestling team’s official Twitter account (@Hawks_Wrestling) got the buzz started with a standalone tweet Tuesday that depicted “11.14.15” overlaying what appear to be football-field yard lines and hash marks. Later in the day, Hawkeye Wrestling Club member and international star Brent Metcalf tweeted, “@Hawks_Wrestling fans, tired of some other school holding the attendance record? This year (it) comes home.”

If the outdoor dual happens at Kinnick, it would almost certainly shatter the NCAA attendance mark held by Penn State, which drew 15,996 fans against Pittsburgh in 2013. That broke the previous record of 15,955, which Iowa set in a 2008 dual vs. Iowa State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Kinnick Stadium’s listed capacity for football is 70,585.

Iowa’s Big Ten Conference schedule has already been determined — and Iowa vs. Minnesota is already set for Jan. 30 — so the outdoor opponent is likely a nonconference foe. Brands has previously confirmed to Hawk Central that Iowa would host Oklahoma State, a program with 34 national wrestling championships, on this year’s schedule. A call to Cowboys coach John Smith’s cellphone was not answered Wednesday.

Minnesota coach J Robinson said Iowa did not approach his program about the possibility of a Nov. 14 Hawkeye-Gopher doubleheader at Kinnick Stadium. The Gophers are scheduled to wrestle the following day at the Northeast Duals in New York.

Robinson said he first heard about Iowa's plans Tuesday from his director of camp operations, Ty Eustice, a former Hawkeye whose brother, Luke, is Iowa's director of wrestling operations.

“I commend them for doing it,” Robinson said. “I think what they’re doing is great. I think it’s super positive and I applaud them for doing it. We’ve been thinking about doing it for years. It’s good from their standpoint.”

“It takes a lot of time, effort and getting people on board. There’s a lot of things I would do, but it takes a lot of time and a lot of energy and a lot of commitment to get people to do stuff, especially stuff that’s out of the norm.”

You can cross Penn State off the list of possible opponents, too. In a story published Monday on PennLive.com, Cael Sanderson said the Big Ten bumped Iowa from his program's conference schedule and the Hawkeyes and Nittany Lions were unable to set up a non-league date.

"It's not ideal," he said. "I was trying to make it happen. It just didn't seem to work out. It's up to us as coaches to try to figure it out and we just weren't able to figure it out.''

Outdoor wrestling isn’t brand new. For example, Cal-Poly has hosted a few Pacific-12 Conference outdoor duals. But the climate in San Luis Obispo, Calif., is far more conducive to being outdoors in a wrestling singlet. According to accuweather.com, the average temperatures in Iowa City for Nov. 14 range from a high of 51 degrees to a low of 32.

by Chad Leistikow and Andy Hamilton

Creston-OM wrestling champion Marlin commits to Hawkeyes

October 27th, 2012 by Tom

Captain America plans to return, to Iowa City.

Creston-Orient-Macksburg three-time state champion, wrestler Jake Marlin, received the, nickname last year as some Panther teammates referred to each other by, superhero characters. University of Iowa will benefit from his talents in the future.

Marlin confirmed that he orally committed Sunday to wrestle next year for the Hawkeyes and head coach Tom Brands, following an official visit to the campus last weekend.

Iowa wasn't at the forefront of his list as Marlin was considering the University of Nebraska and University of Wisconsin. He was won over during his trip that began Friday and concluded Sunday.

"It just clicked," Marlin said. "It's unlike any place in the world. They have one of the best followings. They are constantly one of the top teams in the nation."

Marlin said his style meshes well with the team and coaching staff.

"I would say," Marlin said with a laugh. "I'm a little bit crazy."

He is a really good, too. According to Creston Coach Darrell Frain, Marlin owns a 148-5 record. Marlin has won Class 2A individual titles at 130, 135 and 138 pounds for the Panthers. He expects to compete at 138 again this season, attempting to become the 22nd four-time state champion in Iowa history.

Marlin said he will wrestle 141 pounds with a possibility of growing into the 149 weight class. He has big aspirations, and considers the Hawkeye wrestling room the place to achieve them.

"I'm planning on winning at least two (NCAA titles)," Marlin said. "That's my goal."

Frain said he thinks Iowa is a perfect for the Marlin. He said former Hawkeye Mario Galanakis has been on the Panthers staff, guiding Marlin. Frain said he has witnessed Marlin's ability to zone in on a feat and never, slow down, until it is accomplished.

"Once he gets a goal he gets focused on it," Frain said. "He puts blinders on and he goes and goes until he

According to Amateur Wrestling News, Marlin was a double All-American at Fargo, N.D., in 2010, placing fourth in freestyle and seventh in Greco-Roman. He said his performance this summer her his stock, dropping him from national rankings, but he is fueled to prove doubters wrong.

"Right now, I'm working hard," Marlin said. "I'm ready to go."

According to AWN, Marlin is the second prep to commit to the Hawkeyes, joining Broc Berge, a projected 197-pounder from Kasson-Mantorville, Minn.

Gable set for next stage

January 12th, 2011 by Tom

Dan Gable Wrestling Coach


IOWA CITY "Dan Gable has been the face of amateur wrestling for the better part of the last half-century.

During that span, Gable has done just about everything there is to do for the sport of wrestling, both on the mat and off. He won two NCAA Championships during his competitive days at Iowa State University, losing just one match during his collegiate career. He went on to win a gold medal at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, Germany, while not allowing a single point.

Gable then went into coaching. He was the head wrestling coach at the University of Iowa from 1976-1997, where he led the Hawkeyes to 15 NCAA national team titles and 21 straight Big Ten Conference championships. He coached 152 Al-Americans and 45 national champion during his 21 years as head coach at Iowa. He also coached the United States Olympic Freestyle team in 1980, 1984 and 2000.

Gable stepped down after the 1997 season and moved into an administrative position with the University of Iowa.

Gable has also served in numerous other capacities, including broadcaster on Iowa Public Television's College Wrestling series.

But most notably, Gable has been the greatest ambassador for amateur wrestling who ever lived. Gable is the face of wrestling. Whether it has been on the mat, in the corner, behind the microphone or at various gatherings, Gable has been at the forefront, the voice of the sport.

Gable "retired" from the University of Iowa at the end of December, freeing him up to do much more work behind the scenes. Just don't mention the word "retired" to Gable, for he knows his work has only just begun.

"Excuse me? What did you say?" Gable rebutted when asked about his "retirement." "That word is not in my vocabulary."

Gable recently took time out of his busy schedule to talk about the future of wrestling and his visions for the sport.

Hawkeyes Hire Song as New Strength Coach

August 30th, 2009 by Tom

Andy Hamilton - Iowa City Press-Citizen

Danny Song wasn't certain what he was getting into three years ago when his search for a place to continue his wrestling career led him from New York to Iowa.

He had just finished his senior season at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy where he became a Division III All-American under coach Tim Alger, a former Hawkeye.

A phone call from Alger to Iowa coach Tom Brands helped get Song's foot in the door of the Dan Gable Wrestling Complex in 2006. Ultimately, it helped Brands find the newest member of his coaching staff.

Brands said Monday that Song will be the strength and conditioning coach for the Hawkeyes. The 25-year-old replaces Jared Frayer, who left Iowa after one season for an assistant position at Wisconsin.

"I consider myself a product of this program, "Song said. "I feel like the philosophy, the lifestyle, the culture, it's what I was looking for, even not knowing it. But getting out here and getting a feel for it, it's exactly where I want to be."

Song trained in Iowa City for two seasons before spending last year as an assistant coach at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, N.J. He returned to Iowa in the spring to continue his freestyle training.

"We were looking for a guy who loves the Hawkeyes, and he does, "Brands said. "He's young, but he has a passion for wrestling and with the help we have, he adds to a good staff. ... The attractive thing for him to come back is the training aspect. He's in an environment where he's still able to train and compete."

But Song said his first priority will be helping the Hawkeyes in their pursuit of a third straight NCAA title.

"A lot of times you get guys who are competing and the focus is shifted between being there for the team and then being for yourself and getting yourself ready for competition, "Song said. "From what I've seen and what I've learned so far, I think I can bring a complete, 100-percent dedication to the program and to the position. In my head, this isn't a position that's going to supplement my training, which it might. It might do that, but my priority lies with getting these guys strong for March."

One Moore Reason to Cheer for the Hawkeyes

August 9th, 2009 by Tom

Andy Hamilton "¢ Iowa City Press-Citizen

Nick Moore joked in May that he might hold off on making a commitment until next spring just to throw off all of the people who expected an announcement this summer that he was headed to Iowa.

As it turned out, the three-time state champion from West High might have thrown himself for a loop.

"I wanted to stay open-minded and not get set on Iowa, "Moore said. "But in the end, it would've hurt a bit not to go to Iowa."

So Moore committed to the Hawkeyes on Sunday night, ending a short recruiting process that also included Old Dominion and Edinboro -- perhaps the only two schools that thought it wasn't a lost cause to pursue a wrestler who has a brother and three other high school teammates either at Iowa or on their way.

"Even if it's just your siblings there, it's tough to turn away from that school, "Moore said. "But I live in Iowa City, too, so they probably didn't want to waste their time."

Moore has compiled a 131-1 record at West and has won 99 straight matches since losing to Iowa freshman Mark Ballweg, then of Waverly-Shell Rock, in the 2007 state duals after winning their previous meeting a week earlier in the state semifinals.

Even more impressive, Moore has run the table the past two seasons with an injured right shoulder that required a pair of off-season surgeries.

"He knows how to compete, and he's done a real good job of wrestling the top competition, "West coach Mark Reiland said. "He always seems to step up to the challenge. He's won two of his three state titles injured. There aren't a lot of kids who can do that. You'd like to think his mental toughness is one of his strong suits.

"That's the biggest (strength) he has -- the toughness part. He knows how to battle, he doesn't typically get flustered. At the state tournament this year, he didn't get flustered even though he was having close matches. He doesn't like having them close, but sometimes when you're physically not able to do some things it's going to be that way. He stuck to what he knew he could do, and that's going to take him a long way."

Moore, projected as a 157-pounder in college, is ranked the No. 10 prospect nationally in the Class of 2010 by InterMat. He is the second recruit to verbally commit to Iowa's 2010 recruiting class, joining Waverly-Shell Rock two-time state champion Jake Ballweg.

Moore is set to become the fifth West wrestler in three years to sign with the Hawkeyes. Iowa landed his brother, Nate, and Grant Gambrall in 2007 and signed Dylan Carew and Derek St. John last fall.

"(Iowa) just showed a lot of interest in me and looked at me as an individual, "Nick Moore said. "I really thought that was a good place for me and they had me in their best interests.

"I especially liked the coaches. They just seem like they're always giving 110 percent to you. They just want you to succeed to the best possible ability that you can. I feel like if I surround myself with those kind of people things will click. The coaches, especially, it just seems like you want to be around those type of people with the success they've already had."

Former ISU Wrestler Tyler Clark Back In Business at Iowa

July 8th, 2009 by Tom

ISU transfer back in business at Iowa

By Andy Hamilton "¢ Iowa City Press-Citizen "¢ July 3, 2009

Rankings apparently came into play when Tyler Clark made his decision to leave Iowa State and transfer to Iowa.

The two-time NCAA qualifier was listing some of the factors Thursday that led to his departure from the Cyclones when the business major mentioned the University of Iowa's Tippie Business School, which recently ranked 44th nationally by U.S. News. Iowa State was unranked.

Of course, Iowa's No. 1 wrestling program factored into the equation too.

"Right now," Clark said, "this is the place to be."

Clark, a 125-pounder, feels so strongly Iowa is the place for him that he's sacrificing a scholarship check and an opportunity to compete next year to join the Hawkeyes.

Clark said Iowa State granted him a conditional release after coach Cael Sanderson left the Cyclones for Penn State and Kevin Jackson took over in Ames. Clark was restricted from transferring to Iowa penalty-free. Thus, he can't have contact with Tom Brands or the Iowa coaches until his first day of classes in the fall, he'll have to pay his way through school next year without scholarship assistance and he won't be eligible to compete for the Hawkeyes next season.

Clark's situation is similar to what four current Hawkeyes went through in 2006. Seniors Brent Metcalf, Jay Borschel, Dan LeClere and Joe Slaton, along with graduated senior T.H. Leet, left Virginia Tech after their first year at the school to attend Iowa and follow Brands, who had been named the head coach of the Hawkeyes that April.

Clark, however, didn't use his redshirt at Iowa State so he won't lose a year of eligibility next season and has two years left to compete.

"I would like to wrestle," Clark said. "I'm on track as it is to graduate in four years. I've kept up on my schooling, so it would've been nice to graduate and have wrestling done in four years and focus on getting my master's. But it might be a blessing in disguise. This could be a big improvement year for me. Not having that redshirt coming straight out of high school, I gained a lot of experience and I really didn't have a chance to focus on my weak areas. This might be a time I can do that."

Clark said a year of strictly training will give him an opportunity to hone his basic skills and get back to wrestling with an attacking style.

"I was like that in high school, and I kind of drifted away from that," he said. "I'd like to get back to the way I was " always attacking, always being the aggressor."

Clark picked Iowa State over Iowa during his senior year at Bettendorf. He said he was drawn to Ames by the recruiting pitch and plan that Iowa State assistant Cody Sanderson offered and envisioned himself going into engineering at the time.

The Cyclones pulled Clark out of redshirt for the National Duals in 2008. He went 18-12 as a freshman and posted a 25-8 record last year, notching a victory in January against national champion Angel Escobedo of Indiana before going 1-2 at the NCAA Championships.

Clark said "there were quite a few factors" that led to his decision to leave Iowa State.
"Obviously, coach Sanderson quitting was a big disappointment. I really liked him and it sucked to see him leave," he said.

"I wanted to wait and see who the (new) coach was. There had been rumors that (Iowa assistant) Terry (Brands) was going to take the job, so I wanted to wait and see. I didn't really make a decision until I found out who the coach was. I went and talked to coach Jackson maybe two and a half weeks after that and told him I wanted a release."

Jackson told The Des Moines Register he got the feeling Clark "wasn't comfortable with the change" and said Clark "would have had a tough time making our lineup next year with Andrew Long and Anthony Valles."

"That's not the reason I left," Clark said. "I don't run away from a challenge. If I did, I wouldn't be coming into the returning national champions' room, so it's not that I'm running. But at the same time, he's got to motivate those guys who are still there. Anthony Valles and Andrew Long are both tough competitors, and he's got to find a way to motivate them."

Clark will be reunited with high school teammates Jordan Johnson and Nick Trizzino at Iowa.

"I've talked to a lot of guys (at Iowa), and they've been pretty nice and welcoming," Clark said. "They haven't really held any grudges that I know of. I've talked to some of the guys at Iowa State, some close friends and they all understand. They just said you've got to do what's best for you, and I believe this is the best place for me right now."

Filed under Amateur Wrestling having 1 Comment »

Jared Frayer Leaves Hawkeyes for Wis Badgers

June 21st, 2009 by Tom

Jared Frayer, the Iowa wrestling team's strength and conditioning coach, has accepted a position as an assistant coach at Wisconsin.

Frayer wrestled at Oklahoma, where he was a two-time all-American and an NCAA runner-up in 2002 at 149 pounds, and also has extensive post-collegiate national wrestling experience. He served as Iowa's strength and conditioning coach for the 2008-09 season.

Frayer will join former Hawkeye Barry Davis's staff at Wisconsin.

First assistant Bart Chelesvig left Davis's staff in May, and Donnie Pritzlaff was elevated to the associate head coaching position. Frayer will take over Pritzlaff's position.

"They had offered me the volunteer position about two weeks ago," Frayer said. "It just wasn't right. It was more of a lateral move for me. I enjoyed where I was at at Iowa. But I guess they kind of knew what they wanted and they (made the offer).

"It's a better position. This is what I want to do as a career. It's a position where I can recruit. I'm directly involved with the university. I respect the guys that are there. There are not too many places that I would have gone other than that."

Frayer said that rather than take the volunteer position, which is a paying position but is limited in other respects, he would have stayed at Iowa.

"I wanted to be loyal to the program and there was something I really wanted to do," he said. "I wanted to finish what I started. I didn't feel like we accomplished what we wanted to this year. It's a little selfish but there's a lot of things we left on the table that I think the Hawkeyes are going to accomplish next year that will be pretty special."

Frayer said that being around a program like Iowa's will help him in the future.

"Their expectations are nothing less than the best," he said. "They don't strive to be all-Americans. They strive to be national champions, world champions, Olympic champions. Also the fact that preparation kind of changes your expectations. The way the Iowa program works, preparation is second to none, so you expect second to none.

"It's a place that is unlike any other. It's just been a great opportunity for me to work for Terry and Tom Brands."

NCAA wrestling title tainted by lack of individual champions

March 29th, 2009 by Tom


ST. LOUIS " It definitely wasn't the storybook ending Iowa expected at the conclusion of the NCAA wrestling championships.

The Hawkeyes received a 22nd team title to a storm of cheers and whistles, but the jubilant and prideful ovation at the end of the tournament might as well have been cricket chirps.

Without a champion, there just isn't much to celebrate for the nation's top program.

Iowa's title came as a serendipitous byproduct of Ohio State's failed efforts " not because the Hawkeyes manhandled their competition. And as a result, Northwestern senior Jake Herbert will forever be remarked in college wrestling lore as the guy who sealed the deal for Iowa in 2009.

Sure, three Hawkeye wrestlers in the consolation semifinals won and moved on to vie for third with heavyweight Dan Erekson unexpectedly scoring mad team points on a first-period pin against top-seeded big man David Zabriskie. But only 165-pounder Ryan Morningstar earned bronze in the wrestle-back finals, finishing to his No. 3 seed.

So where are the uplifting positives?

Out of the nine NCAA qualifiers, only Erekson placed higher than he was forecast to be, and he took fourth as the seventh-seeded heavyweight.

Seniors Charlie Falck and Alex Tsirtsis lost out in the second day of competition, as did junior Jay Borschel " an All-American a year ago for the Hawkeyes at 174.

Fourth-seeded Daniel Dennis ultimately ended his junior season on a 9-8 loss to Boise State's No. 5 seed Andrew Hochstrasser in the 133-pound quarterfinals. Yes, he finished seventh technically on a win, but I doubt Dennis will remember his last bout as being a default.

I will stick up for Brent Metcalf, though. He deserves to be lionized for what he did " or intentionally did not do " to Darrion Caldwell at the end of that finals match because I absolutely have zero tolerance for showboats.

Caldwell is like a younger, more immature East-Coast version of Floyd Mayweather Jr.

His backflip in the final seconds wasn't an irrepressible burst of emotion. It was an arrogant and childish display from someone who really wouldn't of had any business being in the championship round if Penn State junior Bubba Jenkins wouldn't have disgracefully given in so early in the tournament.

Millions of Americans watching ESPN's live coverage of the NCAA finals (and the more than 10,000 anti-Iowa fans sitting inside the Scottrade Center) may now think of Metcalf as a poor sport. But my view of him has never been higher.

Metcalf was classlessly taunted on stage and mercilessly booed on his way off on March 21, walking right into the northwest corner tunnel where every Illinois, Oklahoma State, and Nebraska fan let him hear their displeasure.

But he didn't lower his head or divert his eyes from the hatred. Instead, Metcalf kept his chin pointing skyward as he wore a granite-chisled mask.

He held the expression until he got to the only part of the arena where cameras were prohibited. Then, he broke down.

And it hit me: Everything he had spent all year building " the undefeated record, the 69-match winning streak, possibly capturing a second-straight Dan Hodge trophy, and the aspirations of being a three-time NCAA champion after losing a year of eligibility on a bogus ruling by Virginia Tech " it was all gone at the end of a regrettable seven minutes.

Maybe it's just me being a college student idolizing an elite collegiate student-athlete from his beloved school, but I can't help but weep for Metcalf.

Terry Brands takes Hawks under wing

January 20th, 2009 by Tom

Andy Hamilton - Iowa City Press-Citizen

CEDAR FALLS -- To hear others speak of his work, it might sound as if Terry Brands was employed as some sort of project manager if you didn't know better.

During the first 10 weeks of his second stint as an Iowa assistant wrestling coach, the two-time World champion's influence on the program has perhaps been felt most by the individuals who have become his personal projects.

"I feel like I'm kind of his project, "said junior Ryan Morningstar, whose renaissance at 165 pounds this season has been one of the reasons the Hawkeyes enter this weekend's NWCA National Duals as the No. 1 seed. "We do a lot of drilling together in the mornings and break down film together. He's taken me under his wing and worked with me quite a bit and it's been real positive for me."

Brands has his fingerprints on others, too. He has helped Iowa's freshmen adapt to college wrestling, he was instrumental in getting heavyweight Blake Rasing to rejoin the Hawkeyes and brought the program another specialist in the field of technique.

And going into this morning's 9 a.m. opening-round dual against Wyoming (3-0) in the UNI-Dome, there's no question the No. 1 Hawkeyes (10-0) are glad Brands is in their corner rather than on the other side.

Wyoming made a play to hire Brands this summer, offering him its head coaching position but apparently not offering enough resources to hire him.

"I was fired up, "said Brands, who spent the previous three years as USA Wrestling's freestyle resident coach at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. "I was really fired up. I really liked Tom Burman, their A.D. He's a super guy, straight up. They just couldn't put the numbers together in the right order. It came down to more of a staff thing.

"I wanted to be able to hire my own staff and have a say in that and they had signed those guys to a one-year contract and they couldn't really let them out. But the program is a great program and they did the right thing by getting the guy in there they did (former Oklahoma State assistant Mark Branch). I think he's the best guy for the job."

Consequently, it opened the door for Iowa coach Tom Brands to land his top target to replace assistant Wes Hand, who resigned in June, and add his twin brother to a coaching staff that also included Olympians Doug Schwab and Mike Zadick and strength and conditioning coach Jared Frayer.

"I know our room needed him, and when the opportunity presented itself we went after what we needed and so far it's been good, "Tom Brands said. "He's not what you'd call a traditional role coach. He works a lot in a corner with individuals. A lot of coaches do that, but it's different. It's a slow, steady process where it's not just something you see and it's off the cuff and you correct it. But it's over and over and over again over a long period of time."

In Morningstar's case, Terry Brands has provided a steady dose of positive reinforcement. The junior compiled a 48-26 record at 157 pounds during his first two seasons with the Hawkeyes. Up a weight and heavier on confidence, Morningstar is 14-1 this year and ranked third at 165 after claiming a title at the Midlands Championships.

"I remember watching him (in high school) when he was at Junior Nationals and thinking that if he made two adjustments how doggone tough he'd be, "Terry said. "I never really saw that adjustment until this year. (But) the positions that he's always lacked in, he's done a fundamental job of shoring those up."

There was so much uncertainty in the fall surrounding Rasing's career with the Hawkeyes that the redshirt freshman wasn't even listed in the team's media guide.

"I planned on not coming back, "he said. "I didn't know what I wanted to do. I look back and I don't know what triggered it. I didn't listen to Tom, which I regret now. I didn't listen to what he was saying. I had it in my head what I was doing and that's how it was going to go."

At the time, Iowa was short-staffed. Terry was fulfilling his final obligations to USA Wrestling. His brother, Schwab, Zadick and Frayer were left to oversee a roster with 38 other wrestlers and get the Hawkeyes prepared to begin pursuit of another national championship.

Though the Iowa coaches thought highly of Rasing's long-term potential and needed him to fortify their depth at heavyweight, they couldn't convince him at the time to look past the thought of punching the clock for four more years in the practice room rather than taking a daily approach to training.

It was a concept that Rasing didn't grab onto until Terry Brands arrived in November and gravitated toward the heavyweight from New Hampton.

"I had some issues the first semester and he's kind of brought me all the way around and back into the sport pretty much, "Rasing said. "Terry had a lot to do with it, but I think it was kind of the timing. Maybe my head wasn't right at the beginning and Terry took the initiative and gave me another shot."

Brands said he turned to past experiences he had during stints as an assistant at Nebraska and Montana State-Northern and head coaching experience at Tennessee-Chattanooga to help bring Rasing back. He said he especially drew from his season with the Huskers in 2001 when he worked on first-year coach Mark Manning's staff.

"Those guys were glued into the former staff and they canned the whole thing, "Brands said. "We came in as a brand new staff and it was tough to get those guys' attention. A hard-ass wasn't going to do it.

"Ultimately, it's been Rasing, it hasn't been me, if you want to know the truth of it. Rasing just decided he wanted to be here, and he is damn capable."

While the move back to Iowa has enabled Brands to continue working with wrestlers who have aspirations of reaching the highest level in the sport -- former Olympic Training Center residents Steve Mocco and Bryce Hasseman moved to Iowa to continue training with him -- it has also allowed him to have perhaps a greater influence on younger wrestlers.

"It's been better than I expected, "he said. "I was thinking it was going to be another coaching role, and it's been a lifestyle role. It's been really good. It's been really good to get back to, not only that elite development but also that grassroots development with the freshmen, with Nate Moore, (Grant) Gambrall and Montell Marion, reconnecting with him, just to use those three as an example. It's been real good for me.

"Some of those guys I got my hands on at the OTC were set in their ways and even though they weren't getting the results they wanted, they wanted to do it their way, and that's difficult for me to handle and I butted heads quite often with the administration and with the athletes there."

Now Brands fits in with a coaching staff and program that seems to have the same vision and approach toward the sport from his role as a coach up to his twin brother's position as the CEO of the operation.

"I don't like to look at it that way, but that's what it boils down to, that's the tiring part of it, "Tom said. "But at the same time, you've got a lot of people who are pretty excited about this thing and we've got to do a do a good job of managing it. And you know what? I think we have. I think we've captured the passion of what this place is all about and I think we keep adding to it."

They keep adding to it one project at a time.

USA Today: Brands, Cael Reignite Iowa/ISU Rivalry

December 8th, 2008 by Tom

Brands, Sanderson re-ignite Iowa wrestling rivalry

By Luke Meredith, AP Sports Writer

DES MOINES, Iowa " They're shooting for a record crowd Saturday night in Iowa City.

Local authorities gave the University of Iowa permission to increase the capacity at Carver-Hawkeye Arena from 15,500 to 16,000. Officials have warned folks to buy their tickets in advance and arrive early, and the school plans to run shuttles from parking lots around campus to alleviate traffic.

Must be a Jonas Brothers concert, a Hannah Montana show or a big-time basketball matchup, right?

No, no and no.

It's the annual dual meet between the Iowa State and Iowa wrestling teams. In a state that prides itself on being a cradle of wrestling, that's a very big deal - and this year's matchup between top-rated Iowa and second-ranked Iowa State could be the biggest yet.

Iowa is hoping to break the dual-meet record of 15,646 set by Minnesota when it hosted the Hawkeyes in 2002. The school had sold 13,500 tickets as of Thursday morning.

"I think it shows that wrestling is strong in Iowa, "said Iowa coach Tom Brands. "When you look at two programs that are 200 miles apart, or whatever, I don't know if there's any other place in the country like that."

That one of the biggest rivalries in all of college sports is as popular as ever is a testament to the schools' dynamic young coaches - Brands and his Iowa State counterpart, former Olympic gold medalist Cael Sanderson.

The 40-year-old Brands, himself a gold medalist at the 1996 Games in Atlanta, was hired by the Hawkeyes in 2006 after they fired coach Jim Zalesky, who had the unenviable task of replacing legend Dan Gable. Though Zalesky won three straight national titles at Iowa from 1998-2000, a six-year drought followed.

Brands, a former three-time national champion at Iowa, was charged with putting the nation's pre-eminent program back atop the college wrestling hierarchy. It took him just two seasons to get there, as last spring Iowa rolled to its 21st national title by a whopping margin of 38.5 points.

Brands - who recently signed a contract extension through 2013 that will pay him $150,000 a year plus incentives - will be hard-pressed to approach the 15 national crowns Iowa won under Gable from 1977-97, but he appears to have laid the foundation for an extended run at the top.

Iowa has won 22 straight dual meets and is favored to repeat as national champions. The 13 wrestlers in position to compete in the 10 individual matches on Saturday night are a combined 74-6 this season.

"These guys are about the lifestyle. They are geared toward doing the best they can every time they step out on the mat, "Brands said. "The one thing about this team that I like is that when they get ready to go, they're pretty good."

Sanderson, hired by the Cyclones a week before Brands got the Iowa job, is widely viewed as the greatest college wrestler who ever lived. He's already established a strong reputation as a coach, even though he won't turn 30 until next June.

Sanderson went 159-0 at Iowa State and was the only athlete ever named the Most Outstanding Wrestler at the NCAA meet four times. He spent just two seasons as an assistant with the Cyclones before becoming head coach.

Though the man who once graced the cover of a Wheaties box likely could coach anywhere he wanted, Sanderson views the Iowa State job as a "dream situation."

The Cyclones feel the same way. Besides the esteem that comes with having Sanderson as the face of the program, a team that slipped to 13th at the national meet in 2006 has won two straight Big 12 titles and was second at the 2007 national meet.

The Cyclones are ranked No. 2 in the latest Intermat/NWCA poll.

"It's awesome. That's why I'm coaching here, "Sanderson said. "Wrestling is important at Iowa State. We do have the support of the fans and the alumni and the university."

Sanderson has put Iowa State in position to challenge for its first national title since 1987, but the Cyclones know that the road to the title will go through Iowa City.

They'll get to see how they stack up to the vaunted Hawkeyes and a raucous crowd that, even by Iowa standards, figures to be huge.

"It's fun, it's something that I look forward to as a coach. I know our wrestlers look forward to it, "Sanderson said. "If you get a chance to step out there on a stage where there's 10,000-plus, 15,000 people watching, it's pretty cool."

« Previous Entries