Brands nabs NWCA National Coach of the Year honor

The National Wrestling Coaches Association named Iowa wrestling head coach Tom Brands National Coach of the Year Wednesday afternoon.

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Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa's 197-lb Jacob Warner hugs head coach Tom Brands during the fourth session of the 2019 Big Ten Wrestling Championships in Minneapolis, MN on Saturday, March 9, 2019. (Shivansh Ahuja/The Daily Iowan)

Austin Hanson, Assistant Sports Editor

Iowa wrestling head coach Tom Brands claimed the National Wrestling Coaches Association’s National Coach of the Year award Wednesday afternoon. Brands has now won the NWCA honor twice in his coaching career. Brands’ first NWCA National Coach of the Year award came in 2008 after his Hawkeyes won a national title.

This season, Brands guided the Hawkeyes to a perfect 13-0 dual meet record. Under his watchful eye, Iowa also won the 2019 Midlands Championships and the 2020 Big Ten Championships.

Brands’ 2019-20 Hawkeyes were the preeminent favorites entering the 2020 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships. Iowa boasted three one seeds in 125-pound Spencer Lee, 149-pound Pat Lugo, and 165-pound Alex Marinelli. In addition to the one seeds, six Hawkeyes were seeded inside the top 10 of their respective weight classes for NCAAs.

Unfortunately for Brands and the Hawkeyes, the 2020 NCAA Wrestling Championships were cancelled amid the growing threat of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Hawkeyes have certainly enjoyed their share of postseason honors in 2019-20. Brands was named Big Ten Coach of the Year following the conclusion of the Big Ten Championships in Piscataway, New Jersey. He also took InterMat Wrestling’s 2020 Coach of the Year honor.

Brands’ pupil, Spencer Lee, won the Hodge Trophy and was named Big Ten Wrestler of the Year and NCAA Most Dominant Wrestler of the Year.

Iowa spent the majority of the season atop the NWCA’s polls. The No. 1 Hawkeyes will return nine wrestlers in Brands’ starting lineup in 2020-21.

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