Congressman honors Iowa grapplers

May 12, 2008

Congressional Proclamation Photo Gallery

IOWA CITY, Iowa — How impressive was the University of Iowa’s run to the NCAA national wrestling championship? When an Iowa State graduate is celebrating Hawkeye success with a proclamation, you know you have reached the big time.

Sioux City, Iowa, native Dave Loebsack, a second district congressman (and Iowa State graduate), presented a proclamation to a large sample of national champion Hawkeye wrestlers and coaches Monday, May 12, in the Press Room inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

The honor roll of attendees included University of Iowa President Sally Mason, director of athletics Gary Barta, former head wrestling coach Dan Gable and current head wrestling coach Tom Brands.

“I greatly appreciate Congressman Loebsack’s interest in all things Hawkeye,” Mason said. “My particular congratulations to Coach Brands and this group of great young men. You exemplify exactly what Hawkeye athletics is all about. I could not be more pleased to be able to brag about you everywhere I go and I do that frequently. If every coach and every program practiced and performed with the level of excellence and intensity that Coach Brands and his young men performed at, we would be the No. 1 university in this country.”

Iowa won its 32nd Big Ten Conference championship and 21st NCAA championship last season. Along the way, the Hawkeyes crowned seven All-Americans, six academic all-Big Ten selections and four academic All-Americans.

“We’re very proud of their accomplishments on the mat, but I’ll add to that,” Barta said. “They are also accomplished in the classroom and as citizens and representatives of the University of Iowa.”

Loebsack grew up in the Hawkeye State and said he understands the significance the sport has in this state. He remembers watching Gable train for the 1972 Olympics.

“As wrestling fans everywhere know — and I mean everywhere — the University of Iowa has celebrated a history of exemplary wrestlers and coaches that allowed the University of Iowa, the city of Iowa City and indeed the entire state of Iowa to boast numerous titles and NCAA championships,” Loebsack said. “The current team has kept the Hawkeye record strong.”

In what is becoming typical Brands mantra, the decorated head coach assumed a `thanks, now it’s back to work’ attitude.

“We’re honored,” he said. “It’s been at the local level, the state level and now the national level. We like the idea of this continuing. It’s a lifestyle and that’s why we’re being honored and that’s why these things have the potential to continue. That’s what’s important — to keep it going to another level, another level, another level. We’re under capacity right now and we’ve got a long way to go, even though this is great stuff here.”

The Hawkeyes captured their 21st national championship — the first with Brands as head coach — on March 20-22 in St. Louis. Iowa out-distanced runner-up Ohio State by 38 ½ points and crowned two national champions — Brent Metcalf (149 pounds) and Mark Perry (165).

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