Iowa City selected as Olympic Wrestling Hometown in America as part of TeamUSA.org digital series

By Gary Abbott USA Wrestling | Nov. 13, 2015, 12:55 p.m. (ET)
 
 The 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials at Carver Hawkeye Arena.
Photo: Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com
Iowa City, Iowa has been selected as wrestling's Olympic Hometown in America, as part of a special series of digital videos which will be featured on TeamUSA.org, the U.S. Olympic Committee's website leading up to the 2016 Olympic Games.

A production crew will be in Iowa City on November 13-14, covering all aspects of the wrestling culture in Iowa City and its strong connection to the Olympic movement.

Included will be interviews with current Olympic hopefuls training for the Rio Games with the Hawkeye Wrestling Club, a visit with Olympic champion and Olympic head wrestling coach Dan Gable, conversations with community leaders and wrestling fans in the city and more.

The crew will also feature the historic "Grapple on the Gridiron," a Div. I college wrestling dual meet between the University of Iowa and Oklahoma State University, set for Saturday, November 14 in Kinnick Stadium, Iowa's football stadium. This event is expected to shatter NCAA attendance records for a college wrestling dual meet, as over 35,000 tickets have already been sold.

The "Grapple on the Gridiron" will be broadcast by the Big Ten Network, live on BTN2Go at 12 p.m. (ET) on Saturday, with a tape-delayed airing on the Big Ten Network at 7 p.m. (ET) on Sunday.

"It is great to see the USOC confirm what Iowa wrestling fans already know and sometimes take for granted. There is no other place on this continent, and only a few in the world, that are as passionate about this original Olympic sport. Hawkeye nation's support is unparalleled," said Josh Schamberger, President of the Iowa City/Coralville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Iowa City's Olympic wrestling connection covers many generations. There are 15 athletes who competed for the University of Iowa and trained in Iowa City who were members U.S. Olympic men's freestyle teams, including five gold medals, one silver medal and three bronze medals. The Olympic wrestling champions from this community include Terry McCann (1960), Randy Lewis (1984), Lou Banach (1984), Ed Banach (1984) and Tom Brands (1996).

Athletes who have trained there have also been very successful at the World Championships, including 19 athletes who made 48 U.S. World Teams. They have won five golds, seven silvers and three bronzes. World champions include Terry Brands (1993, 1995), Chris Campbell (1981), Tom Brands (1993) and Bill Zadick (2006).

Dan Gable, who was a record-setting college coach for the University of Iowa, was head coach of four U.S. Olympic wrestling teams, including the 1984 Olympic Team which won seven golds and two silvers in Los Angeles, Calif. Tom Brands, the current head wrestling coach at Iowa, was one of the official head coaches of the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team in Athens, Greece.

The 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Wrestling were held at Carver-Hawkeye Arena at the University of Iowa in Iowa City and smashed the attendance record for a U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Wrestling, with a two-day total of 54,766 fans. The 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Wrestling return to Carver-Hawkeye Arena on April 9-10, with expectations to exceed the success of the 2012 event.

In addition to its Olympic heritage, Iowa City is home to the University of Iowa wrestling team, which has won 23 NCAA Div. I national team titles, second in NCAA history. The high school and youth wrestling tradition in Iowa City is also strong. As a state, Iowa takes great pride in its wrestling heritage, and Iowa City is a leading hotbed within the state.

The series distributed on TeamUSA.org will profile historic Olympic and Paralympic training hotbeds across America and the Rio hopefuls that are currently training there. Other sports which will be featured in this exciting series include rowing, beach volleyball, swimming and diving and gymnastics.

Those interested in purchasing tickets to the Grapple on the Gridiron can do so at hawkeyesports.com. General admission tickets to the event cost $10.