Olympic Trials put IC on the map

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The Daily Iowan

Iowa City, Iowa- Brent Metcalf (red) wrestles Jared Frayer (blue) in the finals of the Team USA 2012 Olympic Wrestling Trials at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday, April 22, 2012. Frayer defeated Metcalf in 2 rounds to earn a place on the 2012 U.S. Olympic team. (The Daily Iowan/Adam Wesley)

The most important American wrestling tournament of the year — the U.S. Olympic Team Trials — returns to Iowa City Saturday.

More than 230 male and female wrestlers will vie for 18 spots on the team. The competition, broken up into men’s freestyle, women’s freestyle, and men’s Greco-Roman competition, starts at 9 a.m. in Carver-Hawkeye and continues throughout the weekend.

Four former Hawkeyes — Tony Ramos (57kg), Daniel Dennis (57 kg), Brent Metcalf (65 kg), and Bobby Telford (125 kg) — will compete in the event. Metcalf and Ramos were both ranked No. 1 in the freestyle rankings released earlier this week, and they are considered favorites at their respective weights.

“I’m excited for this community, I’m excited for this program, I’m excited for the sport of wrestling,” Metcalf said. “For me, it’s important that I go and give these fans what they want — to put Hawkeyes on the Olympic team.”

Iowa City held the 2012 Olympic Team Trials to enormous success, breaking the record for attendance — nearly 55,000 spectators (split over four sessions) packed Carver.

It went so well that soon after the 2012 Trials were over, USA Wrestling asked if the area would be willing to host the event again. The response was an overwhelming “yes.”

“There were so many records that were broken that USA Wrestling came to us early on and told us they weren’t going to have a bid process this year,” Josh Schamberger, president of the Iowa City/Coralville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau said. “They said that if we were up to it … it was ours.”

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“We said of course — this community would be happy to be the permanent home to it.”

USA Wrestling asks host cities to come up with a $300,000 bid fee as well as its own operational budget. Between sponsorship deals and the ticket sales, the 2012 Olympic Trials ended up with a surplus.

The Iowa City/Coralville area and the University of Iowa were more than willing to oblige, which led to the event returning.

Schamberger said a study conducted after the 2012 Olympic Trials found the positive economic impact of the event was nearly $6 million.

“You can see that right now, call any hotel in town, and they’re not just sold out, they’re oversold,” Schamberger said. “We have hotels calling us right now to help us relocate guests here and there — it’s a big deal.”

More than 10,000 all-session tickets have been sold; with the total (including single day and specific session sales) the number jumps to nearly 11,000.

There is a deep history of wrestling success in the state of Iowa — the Hawkeyes have won 23 team NCAA titles in the sport — and fans like to see their former college stars perform once again.

While no graduated Iowa wrestlers made the team in 2012, the four looking to make the team train and live in Iowa City. All are members of the Hawkeye Wrestling Club, a non profit organization dedicated to giving former Iowa grapplers a chance to compete at an international level.

“We’re very excited to see [the trials] here again,” organization President, Tim Grissel Jr. said. “It’s the best place to have wrestling in the world, with the fan support we get.”

All-session ($75 for adults, $50 for youth 18-and-under), single-day ($45 for adults, $35 for youth), and single-session tickets ($30 for adults, $25 for youth) are all still available.

 

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