Ohio Tournaments Bring Nationally Ranked Athletes, Iowa’s ‘Grapple on the Gridiron’ Draws 42,000 Fans
Wrestling goes big every year, but never as big as it did this November and December!
Ohio High School tournaments took center stage with the Walsh Ironman drawing teams from around the country for the prep school tournament keynote event of the season.
Ironman was followed by two holiday week staples, the Medina Invitational Tournament and the Brecksville Holiday Tournament.
While Ohio is wrestling capital of the country for events like Ironman, Iowa is always wrestling central. Never more than this year, however, as the Hawkeyes hosted a truly unique event, Grapple on the Gridiron, on Nov. 14. It was a dream event for Iowa head coach Tom Brands as 42,287 fans filled Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City to witness the Hawkeyes post an 18-16 dual meet victory over top-ranked Oklahoma State in the first-ever wrestling match held in a Div. I football stadium. It was the largest crowd in dual meet crowd in NCAA history.
“The hype for the fans is what’s important for me,” said Iowa head coach Tom Brands as the Hawkeyes won on bonus points after splitting the 10 matches.
“That’s what it’s about, our fans, I’m selfish that way,” said Brands. “I know it is great for wrestling, and people in Russia and Iran are going to see this, as well. This is the city that Dan Gable lives in, that’s a big part of it as well, they will know about it internationally.”
“It was awesome,” said four-time Iowa All-American and three time Bay High state champ Mike DeAnna. “The two most successful programs in the history of college wrestling. Vendors, live music, Gable book signing, largest crowd in college dual meet history. I just wish it had been colder. I wanted to see steam coming off the wrestler’s backs.”