Nov. 13, 2015
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — Kinnick Stadium may not be the “World’s Most Famous Arena,” but it’s becoming a must-see entertainment venue in the middle of Hawkeye country. The nationally-ranked University of Iowa football team is 9-0, including a 5-0 record at home.
In August 2016, country music superstar Blake Shelton headlines the “Back Porch Revival,” the first concert in the history of the 86-year-old stadium.
And prior to the Iowa-Minnesota football game Saturday, the “Grapple on the Gridiron” will make college wrestling history by becoming the first NCAA dual contested at an outdoor Division I football stadium.
Iowa hosts Oklahoma State on Saturday at 11 a.m. (CT) at Kinnick Stadium, eight hours before Iowa and Minnesota kick off on the same field. The football game decides the winner of the Floyd of Rosedale. The wrestling dual will lay the landscape for the remainder of the season. The Cowboys and Hawkeyes are ranked 1-2, respectively, by WIN Magazine.
“Our team is excited. We’re excited no matter where we have to go or what we have to do to get the job done,” said UI head coach Tom Brands. “This guy right here is excited because now it’s a date on the calendar that is upon us.”
What the Daytona 500 does for NASCAR, the “Grapple on the Gridiron” could do for wrestling. It is the first dual of the season for both schools, and it’s an event featuring two powerhouse programs driven by two World Champion coaches.
No wrestling program has more national titles than either the Hawkeyes or Cowboys. Oklahoma State head coach John Smith has won five of Oklahoma State’s 34 NCAA titles. Brands has won three of the Hawkeyes’ 23 team titles.
The Cowboys also return four All-Americans, including two-time national champion Alex Dieringer (165), Eddie Klimara (125), Dean Heil (141), and Kyle Crutchmer (174).
Gilman and Klimara are expected to open the festivities with an All-America matchup at 125 pounds. Gilman placed fourth at the 2015 NCAA Championships, Klimara placed seventh.
“I have a full-time job here at 125 to start things off right, be a trailblazer and getting guys fired up to set the momentum,” Gilman said.
Six more All-Americans will take the mat before the Iowa redshirt freshman Sam Stoll makes his collegiate debut against Oklahoma State’s Austin Marsden, a 2014 All-American at 285 pounds.
“This is a chance for a lot of our guys to solidify themselves nationally. We’re pretty solid at six, seven weights as a team, and we need to assert ourselves nationally at 10 weights, so there is a lot of work to do,” Brands said.
“The big thing is it’s time to compete now. All the fanfare, we’re going to let the fans take care of that from this point forward.”
The dual, in a nutshell, is two hours of never-before-seen entertainment inside one of the state’s oldest sporting venues. More than 35,000 tickets have been sold, well beyond the NCAA attendance record of 15,996 set by Penn State in 2013.
General admission tickets remain on sale for $10. Fans planning on attending are encouraged to purchase tickets online at hawkeyesports.com and select the “print at home” option. Free shuttle services are also available at West High School, the UI Hall of Fame, the Hawkeye Commuter Lot, and Hancher Auditorium.