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

Blog Archives

Brands signs contract extension

November 30th, 2008 by Tom

University of Iowa Sports Information

IOWA CITY, IA -- University of Iowa Director of Athletics Gary Barta announced today that Coach Tom Brands has signed a contract extension that will run through the 2013 wrestling season.

"Tom Brands is the best wrestling coach in the country, "said Barta. "When you combine that with the fact he's been a Hawkeye all his life, the fit is perfect. I look forward to working with him for many years to come."

Brands' new contract will run through June 2013 and increases his guaranteed annual compensation to approximately $150,000. Additional academic and athletic incentives will offer Brands opportunities for additional income.

The 2008 NWCA, W.I.N. Magazine and Big Ten Conference Coach of the Year, Brands is in his third season as Iowa's head wrestling coach. He has a 39-6 overall and 13-3 Big Ten record at Iowa, and a 56-26 career mark. Brands and the defending NCAA and Big Ten Champion Hawkeyes are off to a 4-0 start this season with wins over Iowa Central (52-0), Coe (51-0), Minnesota State Mankato (45-3) and Arizona State (41-0) at the Iowa City Duals last week. Iowa is currently on an 18-dual match winning streak.

In only his second season as head coach, Brands guided the 2007-08 squad to NCAA and Big Ten titles, as well the Big Ten regular season title with an undefeated 8-0 league mark. It was Iowa's 21st NCAA team title - the first since 2000 - and the Hawkeyes' 32nd Big Ten championship - the first since 2004. Iowa also won the 2007 Midlands title and the Division I trophy at the NWCA/Cliff Keen National Duals in January. The Hawkeyes posted a 21-1 dual mark, ending the season on a 14-match winning streak. Senior Mark Perry and sophomore Brent Metcalf each won NCAA titles, and Iowa crowned a total of seven all-Americans, which was the most for Iowa since 2001. Iowa also produced six academic all-Big Ten honorees, which is the second-highest total in school history.

Brands served as head coach at Virginia Tech University for two seasons (2005-06), recording a 17-20 dual mark. Prior to taking the helm at Virginia Tech, Brands was an assistant coach at Iowa for 12 seasons (1993-2004). He helped the Hawkeyes to a 177-27 dual record, seven NCAA and eight Big Ten titles, while crowning 23 NCAA champions, 73 all-Americans and 36 Big Ten champions. He was named the NWCA Assistant Coach of the Year in 2000.

As a competitor, Brands won the 1996 Olympic freestyle gold medal at 136.5 pounds in Atlanta, GA. He also won a gold medal at the 1993 World Freestyle Championships in Toronto, two World Cup gold medals (1994, 1995) and was the 1995 Pan American Games champion. He won four U.S. National titles (1993-96) and made four straight U.S. World or Olympic teams (1993-96). Along with his twin brother, Terry, Tom was named 1993 USA Wrestling Athlete of the Year, the 1993 John Smith Outstanding Freestyle Wrestler and 1993 Amateur Wrestling News Man of the Year. He was inducted into wrestling's Hall of Fame in 2001.

Brands was a four-time all-American at Iowa (1989-92). During his Hawkeye career, he won three NCAA titles and was named Outstanding Wrestler of the 1992 NCAA Championships. Also a three time Big Ten champion, Brands won 95 percent of his matches at Iowa. His career mark of 158-7-2, included an undefeated season in 1991 (45-0).

Brands Together: Terry Leaves USA Wrestling To Work for Tom at Iowa

October 4th, 2008 by Tom

Terry Brands to leave USA Wrestling to accept assistant wrestling coach position with the Univ. of Iowa
Gary Abbott USA Wrestling

USA Wrestling's Assistant National Freestyle Coach and Head Resident Coach Terry Brands has notified USA Wrestling that he accepted a position as assistant wrestling coach with the University of Iowa today.

Brands will remain with USA Wrestling through October 31 before officially assuming his new job. Brands will coach a group of U.S. freestyle wrestlers on a tour to Yakutsk, Russia next week.

"USA Wrestling is grateful to Terry and Michelle Brands for their contributions and service to USA Wrestling," said USA Wrestling Executive Director Rich Bender. "I wish them the best of luck in all of their future endeavors."

Brands, a two-time World champion freestyle wrestler and 2000 Olympic bronze medalist, joined the USA Wrestling national staff in April 2005. He has coached the resident freestyle athletes at the U.S. Olympic Training Center, including 2006 World Champion Bill Zadick and 2008 Olympic Champion Henry Cejudo. Brands has served on the coaching staff for the U.S. teams that have competed at the last three World Championships as well as the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China.

"My heart has come together on a lengthy decision that I have considered since the culmination of the Olympic Games," said Brands. "The program at USA Wrestling is headed in the right direction. It is time for me to step away and let the new national coach work with his resident coach going into the future."

In his new position, he will be working along with his twin brother Tom Brands, the head coach at Iowa, and returning to the coaching staff at his alma mater for the first time since 2000.

He has extensive college coaching experience. Brands was the head coach at the Univ. of Tennessee-Chattanooga for three years prior to joining the USA Wrestling staff. He also served in assistant coaching posts at Montana-State Northern, the Univ. of Nebraska and the Univ. of Iowa.

"It has always been on my mind," said Brands about returning to Iowa to coach. "My family and I are going to do our best to instill great values in young men. My motto is to outwork the world and never compromise my integrity. The Univ. of Iowa provides the opportunity for young men to win Olympic gold medals. It is exciting to me. The staff and the administration at the Univ. of Iowa have the same kind of passion to instill that in their student athletes."

Brands is committed to continuing his leadership role in the development of freestyle wrestling in the United States.

"I will work with USA Wrestling and its national office and will do whatever I can to help," said Brands. "I have talked to (National Freestyle Coach) Zeke Jones and told him that I will do whatever I can to help him and the program. The goal is to be the best freestyle country in the world. In my opinion, the collegiate environment provides a lot of that potential."

Brands talked about his experiences working with USA Wrestling and how it has shaped him as a coach and a person.

"I am not anywhere near satisfied with what I wanted to accomplish there," said Brands. "I learned a lot of wrestling, understand the sport better and understand myself better. I matured as a person. I feel real good about the experience I had there."

Iowa vs Iowa State: Bringing Down The Curtain Makes for an Even Tougher Ticket

December 9th, 2007 by Tom

An even tougher ticket

Curtaining off Hilton limits Iowa-ISU crowd

By Andy Hamilton
Iowa City Press-Citizen

Iowa State examined ways to improve its wrestling attendance when Cael Sanderson became the head coach, and the Cyclones came up with an unusual strategy -- limiting the number of fans who can attend dual meets at Hilton Coliseum.

Iowa State's home arena has room for 14,092 at capacity, but only approximately 9,000 fans will be able to get through the doors Sunday when the top-ranked Cyclones wrestle No. 4 Iowa.

Iowa State curtained off nearly one-third of the arena to create a more intimate setting for its dual meets and help boost its season-ticket sales.

"Our attendance hasn't been great, and this was one of the first things we looked at as a coaching staff, "Sanderson said. "How do we make this a more exciting environment? How do we make it more appealing for people to buy season tickets? It's just for the overall atmosphere, and that's really it. We don't have enough fans right now to use (all of) Hilton and have the atmosphere we want in every match. We knew this Iowa match would be the one exception. The only problem is this match only comes around every two years."

Sanderson said school officials discussed making more room for the Iowa dual but opted to drop the curtain. Thus, all of the tickets have been sold for a showdown that drew 13,732 last year at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Those who couldn't get a ticket can watch the 2 p.m. dual live on Iowa Public Television.

"We put a lot of thought into it, especially a year or a year and a half ago when we decided to set it up this way, "Sanderson said. "We knew it would be an issue, but my concern is just being loyal to the season ticket holders and their seats. Many of them asked when they bought season tickets, 'What about the Iowa match? Are you going to move it?' We said we weren't moving the mat."

Some argue that turning away followers doesn't benefit a sport that has been trying for years to build its following.

"Really what we're trying to do is get more people to all of our matches and make it a better experience for people, "Sanderson said. "We don't want to turn away fans. A week ago we had close to 2,000 tickets left. We were uncertain we'd even be able to sell out the set up we had. I believe it's for the best for our program and being loyal to the people who are loyal to us, and you also want to keep your environment the same for the student-athletes. That's part of home-field advantage. Switching things up for the biggest match of the year really doesn't make a whole lot of sense."

Wrestling has been known as a sport that often attracts a big walk-up crowd on the day of marquee dual meets, but all of the tickets have been sold and approximately 5,000 seats will sit empty behind a curtain Sunday. Nevertheless, the Cyclones have seen their season ticket sales double since Sanderson was promoted to head coach in the spring of 2006 and Iowa State wanted to take measures to draw bigger crowds for opponents such as Northern Illinois, Rider, Wisconsin and Oregon State.

"I don't think it was anyone's intention to keep Hawkeye fans out of the arena, "Sanderson said. "The intention was to make it a more exciting atmosphere for our fans and get our fans to come to more events and not just come to the big ones, and that's been working."

Hilton's current configuration for wrestling requires fans to purchase season tickets or have a National Cyclone Club membership to purchase tickets in the lower level for the Iowa dual. Sanderson said Iowa State lifted those restrictions in mid-November when all of the tickets in that level hadn't yet been sold.

On the surface, the ticket restrictions might seem like another Jamie Pollard strategy. The Iowa State athletics director employed a similar strategy earlier in the year when the Cyclones sold single-game tickets to every home contest except Iowa. Those who wanted tickets to the Iowa game through Iowa State had to purchase season tickets. Those who tried to get tickets from Iowa's allotment for the game were required to pay the host-school-set fee of $90 compared to the $60 fee Iowa State charged for games against Texas and Oklahoma.

Pollard has been known to get under the skin of Iowa fans. When the Cyclones won the multi-sport Cy-Hawk Series in 2005, Pollard put a billboard up approximately 25 miles from the Iowa campus proclaiming Iowa as the "Cyclone State "accompanied by a picture of Iowa State football players hoisting the Cy-Hawk Trophy.

"I give Jamie Pollard a lot of credit, "Iowa wrestling coach Tom Brands said. "He's brought it to the point where he's made some people mad on our side of the fence, and that's exactly what his intentions are. In a way, you're dealing with someone who's trying to play head games, and that's why you have to stay focused on the task at hand."

Brands said he isn't among those on the Iowa side of the fence who have been irritated by Pollard.

"I love it, "he said. "It's right up a competitor's alley. I think his dimension is a little bit like a high-level athlete."

Reach Andy Hamilton at 339-7368 or [email protected]

Iowa vs Iowa State: The Rivalry Heats Up

December 9th, 2007 by Tom

Coaching changes bring back spark to Iowa State-Iowa wrestling

By Andy Hamilton

It took two major shifts in the coaching landscape 20 months ago before Iowans could feel the tremors returning to a rivalry that once used to shake the state.

The match between Iowa's Mark Perry, right, and Iowa State's Travis Paulson sparked controversy on the sidelines.

Then all it took was another seven minutes to take the Iowa-Iowa State series to a new, earthshaking level.

Two Iowa Wrestlers

"I'm not going to say there's hatred, "Iowa's Mark Perry Jr. said. "But the Iowa-Iowa State thing grows on you, and I think the rivalry picked up last year from where it was when it was big, and it might even be more heated now than it's ever been."

Perry got a good feel for the temperature change last year when he was at the epicenter of what might be the most heated moment in 72 duals between the Hawkeyes and Cyclones. And it doesn't figure to be any cooler Sunday when the two teams meet in front of a sellout crowd at Hilton Coliseum in Ames with perhaps the top spot in the national rankings riding on the outcome.

"I think there are going to be quite a few brawls on Sunday, "Perry said. "I'm not saying fights, but I think there will be a lot of good action, a lot of good wrestling and guys are going to get after it."

Iowa State will likely enter the dual as the No. 1 team in the country after taking down defending NCAA champion Minnesota over the weekend. Iowa has been ranked as high as No. 3 early in the season, and if the Hawkeyes jump the Gophers in the rankings, it would set up the first No. 1 versus No. 2 showdown between Iowa and Iowa State since 1999.

This is just the kind of plot Iowans envisioned in the spring of 2006 when both schools made coaching changes that rekindled the interest in a series that gripped the attention of the wrestling world throughout the 1980s before the Hawkeyes assembled a 30-meet winning streak over the Cyclones and both programs lost their stature as perennial national championship threats.

Iowa bought out the final year of coach Jim Zalesky's contract on March 29. Hours later, Iowa State called a news conference for later that week to announce Bobby Douglas was stepping down as the coach of the Cyclones. Those moves triggered the return of Tom Brands to Iowa, the arrival of the Cael Sanderson era at Iowa State and the beginning of an eight-month wait for the first dual between the two programs that put their future in the hands of iconic figures from their past.

Iowa wrestling coach Tom Brands and assistant coach Dan Gable exchanged heated words with Iowa State's coaching staff.

Much of the buildup leading into last December's dual in Iowa City dealt with the first-year head coaches matching wits for the first time. Much of the talk after Iowa's 24-6 victory centered around a fiery exchange in the middle of the mat that still seems almost surreal to some of those involved.

The first match had yet to come to a close last year and coaches from both sides had already gotten into a verbal exchange that later grew into a heated argument in the middle of the mat with Brands and Iowa assistant Dan Gable on one side and Sanderson, his brother and assistant coach Cody Sanderson and Iowa State assistant Tim Hartung on the other.

"I know I lost myself in the moment and kind of stepped back afterward and said, 'Wow, what was going on?' "Hartung said. "It was crazy. You couldn't hear, you couldn't even hear yourself think during that specific moment. It was nuts."

The squabble started in the final seconds of the 165-pound bout when Perry came out on top of a wild scramble to score a takedown to force overtime against Travis Paulson in a bout between two All-Americans. Perry clutched his left knee at the end of regulation, inciting the Iowa State bench.

"He wasn't hurt, "said Hartung, who spent the previous two seasons as an assistant at Iowa under Zalesky. "It was a hell of a scramble, [Perry] was obviously fatigued, but so was our guy. We were ready to continue to wrestle and he takes the injury time. Whatever. I remember Tom was telling me to worry about my guy and that's exactly what I should've been doing. It was crazy, man. I don't really remember much of what was said or hardly even the situation that the two wrestlers were in."

Perry won the match with a takedown midway through overtime that ignited the crowd of 13,732. Seconds later, coaches from both teams were sprinting back to the center to resume the dispute.

Iowa State wrestling coach Cael Sanderson is hoping to upset the Hawkeyes.

"You have to realize you're being looked at as a role model and your job is to display calmness under fire, but you've got to stick up for your athlete, "Brands said. "I felt Mark Perry was being assaulted by their coaching staff, so I was out there sticking up for him.

"I remember thinking, 'You're going to be alone here,' and then all of a sudden there's Gable sprinting to the center. That makes a guy feel real good when you've got backup, and Gable is the ultimate backup. I was jawing at Hartung and he didn't care what I was saying. He was jawing at Gable. Cody Sanderson was jawing at Gable. Cael Sanderson was jawing at Gable. It was like I wasn't even there."

The jawing continued in the post-meet news conferences. Cael Sanderson pointed to how easily the outcome could have been different after Iowa won six matches by a collective nine points and said he felt Iowa State controlled the pace of several bouts.

"We didn't take a timeout, "Sanderson said. "I don't know how many timeouts they took. We were pushing them all over. They had injury times."

Said Brands: "Our guy took one timeout. It was Mark Perry. We've got to work on that. You know what, I'll throw some fuel right back on that. I had Mark Perry for a year here [as an Iowa assistant] and then Hartung had him for two years. We're still working the kinks out of him."

On his way out of the interview room, Sanderson asked photographers if anybody had caught Gable "flipping us the bird "during the first match.

"I didn't flip him the bird, I flipped him the arm, "Gable said. "The bird, I know what that means. I don't know what [the arm] means. To me, it meant, 'Come on, guys.' He had just called me a crybaby right before that or something. Sometimes you get a little emotional, but that's part of the game."

The game has changed. The rivalry that used to shake the state of Iowa has reached a new level on college wrestling's seismograph.

Andy Hamilton covers wrestling for the Iowa City Press-Citizen.

    Next Entries »