The University of Iowa wrestling team has long been heralded as the creme de la crème among college wrestling programs, but between 2001-2007, the team failed to win a single national championship. That may not seem like that big of a deal to the casual sports fan, but for a program that won 25 of the 36 national titles between 1975 and 2010, that is quite a drought.
I’m an Iowa State wrestling fan, and I was thrilled to see that, even though the Iowa State Cyclones did not bring home any national titles in that span, either. It was just good to see a few other programs getting a piece of the pie as well.
In 2008, however, the Iowa Hawkeyes wrestling team won again. They won in 2009 and 2010 as well, and this most recent one was particularly convincing, as four of their wrestlers reached the finals and three won individual championships. The Iowa wrestling team had sown up the victory before the final day of competition even rolled around.
For years, the collegiate sport was associated with Dan Gable, the legendary wrestler who only lost one match his entire college career. I would like to point out that Gable competed for the Iowa State wrestling team, but that’s beside the point.
As a coach at Iowa, Gable led the Hawkeyes wrestling team to 15 national championships, including an incredible run of nine in a row between 1978 and 1986. He coached the team from 1976 to 1998, and they were the team to beat in college wrestling.
During his tenure, only Iowa State, Oklahoma State and Arizona State won national championships besides Iowa.
It appeared that all of that had changed in 2001, as Minnesota and Oklahoma State became the teams to beat, winning seven national championships between them. Then Tom Brands took over as head coach at Iowa, and it is been all Hawkeyes ever since.
I think that the main question is, how good is it for the sport of college wrestling that the University of Iowa wrestling team dominates the way it does year in and year out? I guess that really depends on who you ask.
For fans of the University of Iowa, it obviously is great. They have built a tradition where it is simply expected that they will win or at least contend for a national championship every year.
For fans of other wrestling teams, it is kind of divided. Some people hate the Iowa wrestling team and want them to lose no matter what, while others feel that beating out the University of Iowa for a national championship would be extra sweet because of their dominance. They don’t really harbor any ill will toward the Iowa wrestling team but realize that the Hawkeyes have set the bar very high.