The University of Iowa wrestling program has logged impressive stats over the last century: 20 national titles, 61 individual national champions, 31 Big Ten Conference titles, and 215 all-Americans, to name a few.
And the 2007–08 squad is poised to add to these numbers in March.
After ending the season on a 14-match winning streak and clinching the Big Ten regular-season title by going undefeated in the Conference, the top-ranked Hawkeyes (21–1) will compete at the 2008 Big Ten Championships March 8–9 in Minneapolis and at the 2008 NCAA Wrestling Championships March 20–22 in St. Louis.
Iowa wrestling has become synonymous with dominance. Over 96 seasons, Iowa has a dual meet record of 827-215-30 (.785). Second-year head coach Tom Brands competed for Iowa under the legendary Dan Gable, who led the Hawkeyes to 15 national titles—including nine in a row—during his tenure.
Brands, also an Olympic gold medalist, explains how he gets the best from his student athletes, who this year have come to the Iowa campus from as far as Utah, Georgia, and New York:
“We have high standards that aren’t compromised. If you like to do things that are contrary to a championship lifestyle, you do those in extreme moderation. It’s called discipline lifestyle—that’s what we preach all the time,” he says.
“When I was a student athlete here, you’d walk in that room and have unbelievable workout partners who could lick you up and down. You didn’t have to go too far to get humbled. That’s why this environment isn’t for everybody, and that’s why we recruit the right kinds of individuals. They have to be very driven, very motivated, and have very high standards. These kids are not looking for a cupcake route; they’ve got to go through the gauntlet daily.”
Brands is one of more than 50 former Hawkeye grapplers in coaching positions across the country; others have pursued careers in law, education, and business.
“In wrestling, you learn not just to survive but to excel,” Brands notes. “The most rewarding part as a coach is seeing success. These guys set out to accomplish goals and then they start attaining them. Let’s not mince words here, winning is important. Division I athletics is big-time wrestling. These kids come to school to get an education but they also come to school to win wrestling matches and championships. And when they do, it’s an incredible feeling for them and their families.”
Tom Brands Interview
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