Wrestling Notebook: Midlands

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 DATE  Dec. 29-30, 2016
 LOCATION  Evanston, Illinois | Welsh-Ryan Arena
 TELEVISION  Finals on BTN  (Friday @ 7 p.m.)
 LISTEN  KXIC | Hawkeye All-Access | KCJJ
 LIVE RESULTS  TrackWrestling.com

The University of Iowa wrestling team competes at the 54th annual Ken Kraft Midlands Championships on Thursday and Friday in Evanston, Illinois. Welsh-Ryan Arena will host the two-day event. 

Tickets can be purchased from the Northwestern University Athletic Ticket Office at 800-GO-PURPLE or online at nusports.com. Adult general admission passes are $40. All-session passes start at $50 for upper level reserved seats, $60 for reserved. 


9:30 a.m.    Session I     ($10/$8)
7 p.m.    Session II    ($12/$9)
12 p.m.    Session III    ($13/$10)
7:05 p.m.    Session IV    ($15/$12)
 (Single Session – Adult/Student)

Iowa has won more team titles (25) than any other school in the 53 years of the Midlands Championships. The Hawkeyes won their first team title in 1974, and proceeded to win nine of the next 11. Iowa also won team titles in 1990, 1992, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2014, and 2015. Other team winners include Iowa State (8), Illinois (4), Michigan State (3), Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club (3), Michigan (2), Arizona State (1), Minnesota (1), Missouri (1), North Carolina (1) and Oklahoma State (1). Team scores were not kept at four tournaments (1991, 1993, 1994, 1995). 

Junior Brandon Sorensen is 17-2 in three career appearances at the Midlands Championships. He is three wins shy of becoming the ninth University of Iowa wrestler to join the prestigious 20-in-4 club, which requires a wrestler to record at least 20 wins in their first four years of competition. The other eight Hawkeyes include John Bowlsby (22 – 1974, 1976-78), Barry Davis (20 – 1980-83), Joe Williams (20 – 1993-96), Mark Ironside (22 – 1994-97), Wes Hand (20 – 1996-99), Jody Strittmatter (20 – 1997-2000), Doug Schwab (20 – 1997-2000) and Cliff Moore (23 – 2001-03, 2005). Gable was the first club member, recording 20 wins from 1966-69. 
    There are 23 wrestlers in the 20-in-4 club. In addition to the eight Hawkeyes, the others include (in order of appearance) Dan Gable (20), John Bowlsby (22), Andy Schwab (20), Cary Kolat (21), Charlie Branch (21), Yoshi Nakamura (22), Mitch Clark (21), Cael Sanderson (21), Jon Trenge (21), Joe Heskett (20), Tommy Rowlands (20), Nick Simmons (21), Nick Gallick (20), Jake Patacsil (20), Jason Welch (20), and Tyler Graff (21). 

Senior Thomas Gilman won Midlands Championships in 2013 and 2015. A third title in 2016 will make him the 11th Hawkeye to win three or more Midlands titles. 
    Former Hawkeye Joe Williams holds the most individual titles in Midlands history, winning 10. Other former Hawkeyes to win at least three titles are Tim Cysweski (5), Mark Ironside (4), Royce Alger (3), Ed Banach (3), Chris Campbell (3), Jim Heffernan (3), Randy Lewis (3), Brent Metcalf (3) and Chuck Yagla (3). Ironside has the most wins (27) at 141 pounds, and he and Cysewski hold the most titles (4 each) at that weight. Jim Heffernan holds the most titles (3) at 157, while Williams holds the most wins (35) and titles (7) at 174. Pat Kennedy holds the fastest fall (11 seconds) at 165, while Verlyn Strellner holds the most falls (10) at 197. Gable holds the most titles (3) and falls (13) at 149 pounds. 

Seven former Hawkeyes are enshrined in the Midlands Hall of Fame. They include Ed Banach, Chris Campbell, Steve Combs, Tim Cysewski, Barry Davis, Randy Lewis and Chuck Yagla. Former Hawkeye head coach Dan Gable is also a Midlands Hall of Fame member. 

Seven former Hawkeyes earned the Art Kraft Champion of Champions Award, while nine were named Dan Gable Outstanding Wrestler. The Art Kraft Champion of Champions include Lenny Zalesky (1980), Jim Zalesky (1983), Jim Heffernan (1986), Jeff McGinness (1995), Joe Williams (1996), Eric Juergens (1999) and Mark Perry (2007). The Dan Gable Outstanding Wrestlers were Randy Lewis (1979), Lenny Zalesky (1980), Ed Banach (1981), Royce Alger (1994), Jeff McGinness (1995), Lincoln McIlravy (1997), Joe Williams (1999, 2000), Mark Perry (2007) and Brent Metcalf (2009). Gable was named the tournament’s outstanding wrestler five times (1966-69, 1971). 

Head coach Tom Brands is one of six Grand Slam Winners in Midlands history. Wrestlers who have won a Midlands title, an NCAA championship, a World title, and an Olympic gold medal are considered Grand Slam Winners. Brands is joined on the list by Dan Gable, Bruce Baumgartner, Dave Schultz, Kenny Monday, and Jordan Burroughs.

Iowa has won seven Midlands team titles since 2006, Tom Brands’ first season as head coach. The Hawkeyes won team titles in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2014, and 2015. Iowa placed second in 2006, fourth in 2010, and did not compete in 2012. 
    Since 2006, 16 Hawkeyes have combined to win 22 individual titles — Eric Luedke (’06), Joey Slaton (’07), Dan LeClere (’07), Mark Perry (’07), Brent Metcalf (’07, ’08, ’09), Daniel Dennis (’08), Ryan Morningstar (’08), Jay Borschel (’09), Matt McDonough (’09, ’11), Thomas Gilman (’13, ’15), Derek St. John (’13), Mike Evans (’13, ’14), Cory Clark (’14), Nathan Burak (’14, ’15),   Bobby Telford (’14), and Brandon Sorensen (’15). 

Iowa’s coaching staff has won a combined four Midlands titles. Head coach Tom Brands won the 134-pound title in 1990. Associate head coach Terry Brands won the 126-pound title in 1991, and again in 1997 as a member of the Hawkeye Wrestling Club. Assistant coach Ryan Morningstar won the 165-pound title in 2008.

Seniors Thomas Gilman and junior Brandon Sorensen are defending their 2015 Midlands titles. Gilman went 4-0 last season with one pin and one major decision to win the 125-pound title for the second time in his career. He also won the championship in 2013, and was runner-up in 2014. Sorensen went 6-0 at 149 pounds last season with a pair of wins over top 10 opponents, including No. 7 Jake Sueflohn (Nebraska) in the semifinals, and a 3-1 win in sudden victory against Northwestern’s Jason Tsirtsis in the finals.
    Gilman is attempting to become the 11th Hawkeye in program history to win at least three Midlands titles. Sorensen is three wins from joining the prestigious 20-in-4 club that recognizes wrestlers with at least 20 wins in their first four Midlands Championships. Twenty-three wrestlers are in club, including eight Hawkeyes. 
    Senior Cory Clark also has a Midlands title to his credit. Clark won the 2014 title at 133 pounds. 

The Hawkeyes (5-0, 1-0) are ranked No. 3 in the USA Today/NWCA Division I Wrestling Coaches Poll. Iowa is one of nine Big Ten Conference teams ranked in the top 25. Five of those ranked schools will join Iowa at the Midlands Championships on Dec. 29-30. They include No. 7 Nebraska, No. 11 Rutgers, No. 12 Illinois, No. 15 Michigan, and No. 17 Wisconsin.  
    Other top 25 teams at the Midlands Championships include No. 9 Lehigh, No. 10 NC State, No. 14 Central Michigan, No. 18 Oklahoma, No. 19 Arizona State, No. 20 South Dakota State, and No. 23 Pittsburgh. 

The third-ranked Hawkeyes ring in the new year with a January schedule that includes top-ranked Oklahoma State, No. 2 Penn State, and No. 4 Ohio State. Iowa will wrestle all three opponents in that order, beginning Jan. 15 at Oklahoma State. The Nittany Lions visit Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Jan. 20, and one week later the Buckeyes are in town for a Friday night dual on Jan. 27. 
    Single dual tickets are $15/$10 (adult/youth) for duals against Iowa State (Dec. 10), Penn State (Jan. 20), and Ohio State (Jan. 27).