Match Notes: Midlands Championships

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The University of Iowa wrestling team competes at the 56th annual Ken Kraft Midlands Championships on Saturday and Sunday in Hoffman Estates, Illinois. Sears Centre Arena will host the two-day event.

Tickets can be purchased online at or over the phone at 888-SEARSTIX. One-day passes start at $51. Single-session passes start at $31 for adults and $26 for youth.


9:30 a.m.               Session I                                      
7 p.m.                    Session II                                     

12 p.m.                  Session III                                    
7:05 p.m.              Session IV                                    

Iowa has won more team titles (27) than any other school in the 55 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, 2015, 2016, and 2017. 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).

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

Nine Hawkeyes have earned the Art Kraft Champion of Champions Award, and nine have been 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), Mark Perry (2007), Thomas Gilman (2016), and Alex Marinelli (2017).

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), Brent Metcalf (2009), and Thomas Gilman (2016). Gable was named the tournament’s outstanding wrestler five times (1966-69, 1971).

20-in-4 CLUB
The Hawkeyes have nine wrestlers in the prestigious 20-in-4 club, which requires a wrestler to record at least 20 wins in their first four years of competition. The nine 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) Cliff Moore (23 – 2001-03, 2005), and Brandon Sorensen (22  – 2013-16).

There are 24 wrestlers in the 20-in-4 club. In addition to the nine 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).

Dan Gable was the first club member, recording 20 wins from 1966-69.

Junior Michael Kemerer is a two-time defending Midlands Champion (15&), but will not be able to go for No. 3 in 2018. Kemerer is out for the season with an injury.

Thirteen Hawkeyes have won three or more titles at the Midlands Championships. 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), Thomas GIlman (3), Jim Heffernan (3), Randy Lewis (3), Brent Metcalf (3), Brandon Soresnen (3), and Chuck Yagla (3).

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 nine Midlands team titles since 2006, Tom Brands’ first season as head coach. The Hawkeyes won team titles in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017. Iowa placed second in 2006, fourth in 2010, and did not compete in 2012.

Since 2006, 20 Hawkeyes have combined to win 30 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, ’16), Derek St. John (’13), Mike Evans (’13, ’14), Cory Clark (’14), Nathan Burak (’14, ’15),   Bobby Telford (’14), Brandon Sorensen (’15, ’16), Michael Kemerer (’16, ’17), Alex Marinelli (’17), Cash Wilcke (’17), and Sam Stoll (’17).

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.

Three of Iowa’s 2017 Midlands champions return in 2018. Alex Marinelli was named Champion of Champions at the 2017 tournament, winning the 165-pound title. Marinelli is 9-2 all-time at Midlands. He placed fourth as a freshman in 2016.

Cash Wilcke won the 197-pound title in 2017, but is competing at 184 pounds this season. Wilcke is 8-4 all-time at Midlands. He was 1-2 competing at 184 pounds his freshman season.

Sam Stoll topped a pair of ranked opponents to win the 285-pound Midlands title in 2017. He placed third at the tournament in 2015 and 2016, and is 17-4 all-time. His 17 Midlands wins are the most of any active Hawkeye.

Brandon Sorensen and Michael Kemerer also won Midlands championships in 2017. Sorensen graduated as a three-time champion at 149. Kemerer won the last two 157-pound titles, but is out this season with an injury.

Iowa is the top-rated team in the Midlands tournament field. The Hawkeyes (6-0, 1-0) are ranked No. 4 in the Theraworx NWCA Division I Wrestling Coaches Poll. The entire tournament field includes four programs ranked in the top 10 and 10 programs ranked in the top 25, including Big Ten schools Illinois (17), Michigan (5), Minnesota (9), Wisconsin (10), Purdue (13), and Illinios (17). Other ranked schools include North Carolina (12), Arizona State (15), and Lehigh (21).  

Nine Hawkeyes are on the watch list for the 56th annual Midlands Championships. Defending champions Alex Marinelli, Cash Wilcke, and Sam Stoll are among the top contenders at 165, 184, and 285 pounds. Defending NCAA champion Spencer Lee is the favorite at 125 pounds. Kaleb Young, who placed fifth at Midlands each of the last two years, made the list at 157 pounds. The final four top competitors include Austin DeSanto at 133, Max Murin at 141, Pat Lugo at 149, and Jacob Warner at 197. Murin, Lugo, and Warner competed unattached at Midlands last season. DeSanto is in the tournament field for the first time.

Sophomore Kaleb Young and redshirt freshman Jacob Warner continue to ascend the rankings.

Young opened the season ranked 15th in the country by Intermat, but has climbed to No. 4 entering the Midlands Championships, the highest ranking of his career. Young is 6-0 with two pins and a major decision. He has wins over No. 14 Griffin Parriott (Pin 3:37) and No. 15 Josh Humphreys (4-1). He was named Big Ten Wrestler of the Week following his win over Parriott. 

Warner opened the season ranked No. 13 by intermat, but is ranked No. 4 heading into Midlands. He is 1-0 this year with a 5-4 decision over No. 5 Willie Miklus.