Hey, wrestling! It's been a while since we've checked in on Iowa wrestling and the season is just around the corner (the Iowa City Duals are a little over two weeks away on November 17). I'll be starting weight-by-weight previews next week, but let's do a rundown of a few stories related to Iowa wrestling over the last several weeks.
BRANDS EXTENSION + WRESTLING FACILITY
Back in September Iowa announced that Tom Brands' contract was being extended for three years, through the 2022-23 season. Iowa hasn't had the desired results over the last several years (the best was a shared Big Ten title in 2015), but Brands has improved the recruiting over the past few classes and the Hawkeye Wrestling Club has taken some big steps forward recently, providing some hope for the future.
Iowa also announced that a facility feasibility study would be conducted for a standalone wrestling practice facility, which could be another step in helping Iowa again compete for titles. For decades (since 1983, to be precise) the wrestling team has practiced in Carver-Hawkeye Arena and while the space there isn't bad, there's an arms race in wrestling facilities just like there is in several other sports. The feasibility study is the first step toward making that happen.
Brands also did an interview with Todd Conner's Iowa Wrestling Fan blog, which is worth reading. A few highlights:
- Iowa has a team full of unknowns this year, which can also be exciting. Brands teased the possibility of Iowa using one of their blue chip freshmen recruits as well (paging Spencer Lee...?).
- He talks about the importance of growing the Hawkeye Wrestling Club, noting that Penn State's wrestling club has ten times more spendable money than Iowa's right now.
- Sam Stoll could be ready to compete sooner rather than later.
- He talks about how Iowa landed the Freestyle World Cup (April 2018) and how exciting that event will be.
- Iowa doesn't have a lot in the way of money/scholarships to offer in recruiting this year (after a big class last year), so expect a smaller class.
- He also talked about the decision to bring back wrestle-offs this year.
Speaking of... those aforementioned wrestle-offs will be taking place this week, starting Thursday, continuing on Friday, and wrapping up on Saturday. Here's the breakdown of matches for wrestle-offs.
141: Max Murin vs Aaron Meyer
197: Sam Cook vs Cade Brownlee, Jacob Warner vs Connor Corbin
125: Perez Perez vs Justin Stickley
141: Murin/Meyer vs Vince Turk, Dan Murphy vs Carter Happel
149: Brandon Sorensen vs Stephen Alvarez, Patricio Lugo vs Jeren Glosser
157: Tristan McDonald vs Keegan Shaw
197: Cook/Brownlee vs Cash Wilcke, Warner/Corbin vs Stephen Holloway
125: Perez/Stickley vs TBA
133: Paul Glynn vs Philip Laux
141: Murin/Meyer/Turk vs Murphy/Happel
149: Sorensen/Alvarez vs Lugo/Glosser
157: McDonald/Shaw vs Michael Kemerer
165: Jeremiah Moody vs Logan McQuillen
174: Kaleb Young vs Joey Gunther
184: Mitch Bowman vs Myles Wilson
197: Cook/Brownlee/Wilcke vs Warner/Corbin/Holloway
285: Aaron Costello vs Sam Stoll
EDIT: Alex Marinelli is not competing at 165 at this event because he's reportedly a bit banged up at the moment. It doesn't sound like anything too serious, though, and hopefully he'll be ready to go for the Iowa City Duals in a few weeks.
The speculation is that the "TBA" at 125 is Spencer Lee (it's hard to come up with other possibilities, frankly), but we'll have to wait until Saturday for confirmation. Competing in Iowa's wrestle-offs wouldn't impact his ability to still redshirt for Iowa this year, of course.
IAWrestle broke down the top five potential matches we could see at wrestle-offs, highlighted by Happel-Turk at 141, Sorensen-Lugo at 149, and Young-Gunther at 174. The 141 and 174 matches are two of the most intriguing matches between potential starters, while Sorensen-Lugo is just a great match-up between Top 10 wrestlers. It won't impact the lineup this year -- Sorensen will start and Lugo will redshirt this year and have two years to start in 2018-19 and 2019-20 -- but it should be a hell of a match (Lugo beat Sorensen, 7-5, at the Iowa-Edinboro dual last year).
NCAA SCHEDULE CHANGES COMING?
For as long as I can remember, wrestling has been a split-semester sport, beginning in late fall and wrapping up in mid-spring at the NCAA Tournament around St. Patrick's Day. That might be changing in the future. According to Andy Hamilton at TrackWrestling, the Blue Ribbon Task Force created to examine the sport's long-term health has recommended a schedule change to make wrestling a one-semester sport, taking place entirely in the spring semester and ending with a dual championship tournament in April. This is what such a schedule might look like it:
According to Fallis, the proposed Division I model looks like this:
- Official practices would begin on or around Nov. 10.
- Competition would kick off during the semester break.
- The first half of the season would feature a mixture of duals and individual tournaments leading up to March’s conference tournaments and the NCAA Championships.
- The post-NCAA Championships portion of the season would only consist of duals.
- The season would culminate with a two-weekend, 16-team dual tournament held on college campuses.
- The bracket would be filled by conference dual champions and at-large selections.
- The top eight seeds would each host dual meets on the dual tournament’s first weekend.
- The top remaining seed after the first weekend would play host to an eight-team championship bracket the following weekend.
An NCAA dual meet championship could be worth $500K in the first year alone (via a proposed ESPN contract), according to a podcast with Hamilton and David Mirikitani. The schedule looks a little weird with the NCAA Tournament smack-dab in the middle of the season rather than the culminating event of the year, but tweaks may be possible. And the elephant in the room is whether or not the NCAA would sanction the creation of two NCAA team championships, the one traditionally awarded at the individual tournament in March and one for the newly-created dual meet championship. So there are a lot of details to sort out and nothing has been officially decided yet... but this could be a massive change for college wrestling, so we'll see what news develops.