Iowa wrestling focused on two major points for the season

Hawkeye wrestling is focusing on two big components of the upcoming season to foster success.


Shivansh Ahuja

Spencer Lee stands for a portrait during Wrestling Media Day at the Dan Gable Wrestling Complex on Monday, Nov. 5, 2018.

Anna Kayser, Assistant Sports Editor

Wrestling season is officially in full swing following Iowa’s media day on Monday, and head coach Tom Brands had a few points of emphasis.

New faces

Iowa’s goal this year is to build a complete roster from the first weight class to the 10th. With four All-Americans returning, Brands said six weight classes are open for the taking.

Austin DeSanto, a sophomore transfer from Drexel, qualified for the NCAA Championships at 133 pounds in his first year of college competition.

DeSanto’s energy and competitiveness on the mat is overaggressive at times, something that Iowa is going to attempt to manage without taking away from his game.

“We want him to have that edge,” Brands said. “We want him to have that competitive fire. His reputation precedes him. That’s a good thing.”

Returning sophomore Kaleb Young was also on Brands’ list of new faces, despite not being new.

Young is moving down a weight after primarily wrestling at 165 and 174 last season, something that the coaching staff admits might not have put him in the best position.

“Going down two weights helps him,” Brands. “He’s naturally a 57/65. We tried to get him big to 74. I’m not sure that’s the best thing for that guy. He has a high metabolism rate.”

Redshirt freshman Max Murin is a candidate to take the deep 141 spot after recording wins against the competition for the spot.

However, it’s not a done deal yet.

“That’s up to Murin to go out and compete hard,” Brands said.

Win, graduate, do it right

A big part of Iowa’s focus comes off of the mat, in what each athlete does in the classroom and in life. Brands spoke over and over about numerous athletes who embody the Athletics Department’s motto of “win, graduate, do it right.”

First up, Spencer Lee. Coming off of a national championship, he is often in the spotlight as one of the faces of the program. His work ethic comes from being immersed in the culture and the program.

“He is a leader just being in that wrestling room,” Brands said. “The way he competes, the way he holds himself, the way that he looks to his future — win, graduate, do it right template. It was made for him, or he came in and maybe that’s what inspires him.”

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DeSanto shows off his strong work ethic both in the wrestling room and in the classroom. There’s a balance to his striving to be successful.

“He’s a great student,” Brands said. “When I say he’s a great student, he’s not the most talented, gifted student, but he’s a great student because he works hard at it.”

Young makes the academic-achievement list as well with his grades and the accolades he collects in his education.

This season, the strong focus on academics is paying homage to how the program has built up its culture to embody what the entire Athletics Department is trying to do.

“Our academics are definitely as strong as they’ve ever been, as well,” Brands said. “That’s not something that I’m just slipping in there to make the program look good. I mean, this is real. This is win, graduate, and do it right. That’s real. It’s not fake.”