Return to Normalcy; Hawks Dominate Nationals

It's all over in St. Louis and the verdict is in; the Iowa Wrestling program is back, and with a vengeance. Iowa finished this year's nationals with 117.5 team points, 38.5 points ahead of runner up Ohio State. It was a dominant performance by Iowa, who suffered just one misstep along the way during this 'return to normalcy' season of 2007-2008

ST. LOUIS, MO -- The top-ranked University of Iowa wrestling team won its 21st national title and crowned two individual champions in senior Mark Perry and sophomore Brent Metcalf at the 2008 NCAA Championships Saturday night in St. Louis, MO. It was Iowa's first team title since 2000, and the first time the Hawkeyes crowned more than one NCAA champion since Doug Schwab and T.J. Williams won titles in 1999. Iowa scored 117.5 team points in the victory, more than doubling its NCAA point total (57) from 2007. Ohio State placed second with 79 points and Penn State placed third with 75. Iowa and Ohio State were the only teams with two individual champions.

            Hawkeye Head Coach Tom Brands was named 2008 NWCA Coach of the Year and Metcalf was named Outstanding Wrestler of the Championships. Brands is the fourth Hawkeye coach to earn the honor, and the first since Jim Zalesky in 1999. Metcalf is the 10th wrestler in Hawkeye history to earn the honor, and the first since Joe Williams in 1998.

            "This is a step in the process," said Brands of winning the national team title. "We're going to continue this process. When our individuals prepare and wrestle their best, the team situation takes care of itself. I feel good about our program, but there is still work to do."

Metcalf was Iowa's first champion of the night, beating Penn State's Bubba Jenkins, 14-8, in the 149-pound finals. Jenkins scored two takedowns in the first period to take a 4-2 lead, but Metcalf followed with an escape and a takedown with a five-point move to close out the second period and go up 10-5. The Davison, MI, native secured his 35th win of the season with two third-period takedowns. Metcalf ends the season with a 35-1 record and on a 32-match winning streak.

"I'm happy with the win, but not so much with my performance," said Metcalf. "I don't like giving up points. I failed in wrestling on the edge, and that's were he scored. That's not Brent Metcalf's style, so I've got some work to do. The (Hawkeye) program is building and working toward dominance. We are going to enjoy the win, but we've all got work to do."

Hawkeye senior Mark Perry became Iowa's 14th two-time NCAA champion when he defeated Michigan's Eric Tannenbaum in the 165-pound finals, 5-2. It was the fifth time that the two had met, with each wrestler owning two wins. Perry scored a takedown in the first 19 seconds of the match and rode Tannenbaum the entire first period. He took a 3-0 lead early in the second period on an optional start escape, but injured his right knee in a scramble. Perry injured the same knee in January and sat out the entire Big Ten dual season after undergoing arthroscopic surgery. Tannenbaum scored a third-period takedown to make the score 3-2, but released Perry and did not score again. Perry's riding time point made the final score 5-2. The Stillwater, OK, native ended his Hawkeye career with a 96-16 record, going 20-3 this season. He is Iowa's 17th four-time all-American.

"I was really excited to get another shot at (Tannenbaum) after the way I competed at Big Ten's," said Perry. "I was ready to go, and I felt the best that I've ever felt in a NCAA final. But then my knee popped in that scramble, and it hurt worse that it did the last time. I have to credit my coaches because they got my head straight when I was panicking and told me to suck it up. Obviously I went on the defensive from that point on and wrestled as best I could, but that's not the way I wanted to finish my career. But I've learned a lot and I found a way to win."

            Hawkeye sophomore Joe Slaton was Iowa's third NCAA finalist, facing senior Coleman Scott of Oklahoma State in the 133-pound finals. Scott caught Slaton in an opening scramble and locked up a tight cradle, recording the pin in 49 seconds. The Hawkeye sophomore ends the season with a 31-5 record, picking up his first all-America honor.

            The Hawkeyes crowned a total of seven all-Americans, which is the highest number for Iowa since 2001. Sophomore Jay Borschel (174) placed third, while senior Matt Fields (Hwt.) placed fifth, and junior Charlie Falck (125) and sophomore Phillip Keddy (184) placed sixth.

            The Hawkeyes will hold their annual team awards banquet Sunday, May 4 at 1 p.m. at the Holiday Inn and Conference Center in Coralville, IA. Tickets are $25 and must be purchased in advance. Checks should be made payable to the University of Iowa Athletic Department and sent to: University of Iowa Wrestling Office; Attention: Banquet; Room 223 Carver-Hawkeye Arena; Iowa City, IA  52242.



Place     Team                                              Points

1.            Iowa                                                 117.5

2.            Ohio State                                        79

3.            Penn State                                       75

4.            Nebraska                                          74

5.            Iowa State                                        72

                Oklahoma State                             72                                                                   

7.            Central Michigan                           69

                Michigan                                           69

9.            Cornell                                               67

10.          Minnesota                                      61.5



133 - #3 Coleman Scott (Oklahoma State) pinned #4 Joe Slaton (Iowa), 0:49

149 - #1 Brent Metcalf (Iowa) dec. #6 Bubba Jenkins (Penn State), 14-8

165 - #2 Mark Perry (Iowa) dec. #1 Eric Tannenbaum (Michigan), 5-2

Hawkeye Insider Top Stories