FEATURE Iowa seeks to break attendance record in dual against Oklahoma State
Iowa City, IA-The Univ. of Iowa plans to have Carver-Hawkeye Arena packed with fans this Saturday, Jan. 7, for their dual meet with No. 1 ranked Oklahoma State Univ. In fact, the Hawkeyes are aiming to break the college wrestling dual meet attendance record, long held by their archrivals at the Univ. of Minnesota.
Minnesota has held the NCAA record since the Feb. 1, 2002 meet with Iowa, with 15,646 fans in attendance. Iowa's upcoming meet with another longtime rival, Oklahoma State, seemed like an excellent opportunity to break the national record.
"Obviously it's the two winningest programs in college wrestling history," said Toby Trail, the Assistant Director of Marketing and Promotions at Iowa.
Iowa has been generating a buzz about the event with radio, print and television advertising. In addition, cards, magnets and flyers with the team's schedule have been used to specifically advertise the meet with Oklahoma State. Approximately 4,000 to 5,000 flyers have been given to coaches to post at their clinics for further promotion.
Promotional prizes will also be given away throughout the meet. The first 2,000 people in attendance will be given Iowa wrestling key chains. Other prizes include autographed pictures from the entire wrestling team, and a Lucky Seat contest in which winners can receive gift certificates for local restaurants.
Fans also have the opportunity to sign up for the Best Seat in the House contest. The winner and one guest will be able to watch the meet from a courtside leather couch and enjoy free concessions.
Carver-Hawkeye Arena seats 15,500. To make room for the anticipated larger crowd, additional seating will be placed on the lower levels and concourse levels around the circumference of the arena.
Although everyone hopes for a large turnout, nobody knows for sure if a record will be set. Wrestling has traditionally been a sport in which attendees buy tickets the day of the event or just before the meet, making it harder to anticipate crowd size.
"So many people tend to walk up the day of the event. It's really always hard to tell," said Iowa Assistant Coach Tim Hartung. "The same thing happened in 2002 in Minnesota when the record was broken."
Hartung, an alumnus of Minnesota, was also a strength and conditioning coach for the university's wrestling team in 2002 when the attendance record was set. Now, as a coach for Iowa, Hartung says he feels the same as when he was at Minnesota.
"Anywhere you're at, you want to succeed. You try to be successful and do some things that are different," said Hartung.
Although the timing is not ideal for drawing a large crowd, due to the recent holiday break, Iowa does have the advantage of hosting the men's basketball game against Illinois the Saturday afternoon before the wrestling meet, giving Iowa the opportunity to pull a larger crowd later that night. In an effort to draw Iowa fans to the meet after the basketball game, e-mail reminders were sent to people who purchased their basketball tickets online.
Despite the publicity that the upcoming meet is generating, Head Coach Jim Zalesky does not believe it puts any extra pressure on Iowa's wrestlers.
"If you get the fans there and have a big crowd it's good. Wrestlers like big crowds," said Zalesky.
The dual meet this Saturday will also feature heavyweight Steve Mocco returning to Iowa, as a wrestler for rival Oklahoma State. Mocco was a NCAA Champion for the Hawkeyes before transferring to the Cowboys where he won a national title last year. Zalesky expects that Iowa fans will treat Mocco as they would any opponent.
"Anytime you go to a rival, you won't get treated like you were when you were here," said Zalesky.
Having a home crowd may serve as an advantage to Mocco's opponent, Matt Fields.
"Whether you have a home crowd or not, you still have to go out and wrestle and try to succeed," Zalesky said.Potential Pairings:
125-Lucas Magnani (Iowa) vs. No. 7 Coleman Scott (Oklahoma State)
133-No. 20 Daniel Dennis (Iowa) vs. No. 6 Nathan Morgan (Oklahoma State)
141-No. 15 Alex Tsirtsis (Iowa) vs. No. 9 Daniel Frishkorn (Oklahoma State)
149-No. 2 Ty Eustice (Iowa) vs. No. 1 Zack Esposito (Oklahoma State)
157-No. 5 Joe Johnston (Iowa) vs. No. 10 Kevin Ward (Oklahoma State)
165-Eric Luedke (Iowa) or Cole Pape (Iowa) vs. No. 2 Johny Hendricks (Oklahoma State)
174-No. 3 Mark Perry (Iowa) vs. No. 9 Brandon Mason (Oklahoma State)
184-No. 2 Paul Bradley (Iowa) vs. Rusty Blackmon (Oklahoma State) or Clay Kehrer (Oklahoma State)
197-Adam Fellers (Iowa) vs. No. 2 Jake Rosholt (Oklahoma State)
HWT-No. 6 Matt Fields (Iowa) vs. No. 1 Steve Mocco (Oklahoma State)
*--NWCA/Intermat Division 1 Ranking as of Jan. 3Tickets and Pricing
All tickets are $10 per person
Tickets can be purchased at the University of Iowa Athletic Ticket Office at 1-800-424-2957 or online at www.hawkeyesports.com