The Iowa wrestling team opens a bid for a 24th national title when the NCAA Championships open Thursday morning in St. Louis. The Hawkeyes finished third at the Big Ten Championships and have seven wrestlers seeded in the top five, the most of any team.
Iowa coach Tom Brands says it’s good, but seeds don’t mean anything once the tournament begins. “Here’s the thing, we weren’t going to win the Big Ten Tournament by wrestling to our seeds and the way you look at it, we were close to wrestling to our seeds,” Brands says. But he says they didn’t slam the door on their opponents with big wins and bonus points that they needed to win.
U.N.I. is sending five wrestlers to the national tournament. That’s the most entrants U.N.I. has had at Nationals since six Panthers qualified back in 2009. Panther coach Doug Schwab says that U.N.I. could make some noise at the National Tournament if all five guys perform well. He says they are halfway to getting ten guys to the tournament and they want to score a bunch of points with five a do a lot of damage.
Of U.N.I.’s qualifiers, the wrestler that probably has the best shot at an individual title is 133 pounder Joe Colon, who enters the national tourney ranked 5th. Schwab says that Colon has been wrestling very well of late, chipping away at guys who try to slow him down.
Iowa State is also sending five wrestlers to the NCAA Championships.