IOWA CITY, Iowa — There are no football fields, Olympic Trials, or Big Ten Championships on the University of Iowa wrestling team’s home schedule in 2016-17.
Instead, it’s my title contender against your title contender inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. And it’s not just one time; it’s nearly every home date on the calendar.
After the Hawkeyes break-in Mediacom Mat on Nov. 18 at the Iowa City Duals, the doors open for All-Americans from Iowa State, Penn State, Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Nebraska. This means, just to name a few:
Cory Clark against Iowa State’s Earl Hall on Dec. 10.
An NCAA finals rematch between Brandon Sorensen and Penn State’s Zain Retherford on Jan. 20.
Alex Meyer against Ohio State’s Bo Jordan on Jan. 27.
Sam Stoll against Connor Medbery of Wisconsin on Feb. 3.
And in the regular-season finale on Feb. 12: a senior day match-up featuring Big Ten champion Sammy Brooks and Nebraska’s T.J. Dudley, a 2016 NCAA finalist.
And then there is the man batting leadoff in each dual, two-time All-American and NCAA runner-up Thomas Gilman.
“We have five All-Americans and three national finalists back,” said UI assistant coach Ryan Morningstar. “We like our leadership and what they’re doing for our young guys, being good role models.”
Since 2010, Iowa has had 11 NCAA finalists at 125, 133, and 141 pounds. It figures to add at least two more in 2017, with Gilman and Clark entering the season ranked No. 1 at 125 and 133, respectively.
“They are high-powered guys,” Morningstar said. “They’re exciting guys to watch, and we’re looking for big things from those two.”
Sorensen moved up the 149-pound NCAA podium from fourth as a freshman in 2015, to second in 2016. He is expected to move forward this season with Meyer and Brooks, 2016 All-Americans at 174 and 184, respectively.
“We expect a lot from those guys,” Morningstar said. “We’re expecting Meyer and Brooks to move up the podium, and the same with Sorensen. He was second last year and he has his work cut out for him with the returning champ back.”
Stoll reached as high as No. 7 in the national rankings last year at 285, but was slowed by an injury at the National Duals Championships Series. He earned an at-large berth to the NCAA Championships, but was shelved for good after the injury resurfaced in the opening round.
“Stoll is doing great,” Morningstar said. “We’re probably going to pull the reigns back a little bit because it’s a long season. We’re peaking for the national tournament in March, but he’s chomping at the bit right now.”
Iowa’s 10-man lineup includes new faces, too. Freshman Michael Kemerer, a guy Morningstar says is “all over the legs” is likely to start at 157. Positions at 141, 165, and 197 could be determined in what amounts to a wrestle-off at the season-opening Luther Open on Nov. 12. Some candidates, just to name a few, include Topher Carton, Jeren Glosser, and Vince Turk at 141; Burke Paddock and Skyler St. John at 165; and Cash Wilcke and Steven Holloway at 197.
Season tickets and single dual tickets are available for purchase at the UI Athletics Ticket Office at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, over the phone at 1-800-IA-HAWKS, or online at hawkeyesports.com.