Abe Assad

Chris Werner, Sports Reporter

At the Iowa men’s wrestling team’s annual media day on Oct. 27, head coach Tom Brands said the Hawkeyes have options to choose from when it comes to their 184-pound starter.

“We have a returning starter there from a year ago, and we have a returning All-American there from a couple of years ago,” Brands said of junior Nelson Brands and sophomore Abe Assad.

This season, Assad will start over Nelson — at least for the first few duals.

Nelson Brands was ranked in the top 10 nationally at 184 pounds last season. But he still surrendered two dual meet losses. Nelson finished the regular season 3-2.

Inconsistency plagued Nelson during the 2020-21 postseason, too. The son of Iowa associate head coach Terry Brands picked up one win in the Big Ten tournament before he was eliminated by Penn State’s Aaron Brooks.

Nelson picked up just one victory before he was eliminated in the 2020-21 NCAA tournament too.

After an 8-6 overall 2020-21 campaign from Brands, it’s time for Assad to make his return to Iowa’s starting lineup.

Assad earned All-America honors in 2019-20 before he was benched in favor of Nelson in 2020-21.

Assad finished fourth at the 2019-20 Big Ten Championships. Assad’s 2019-20 win total of 22 was the highest any Hawkeye wrestler registered that year.

If Assad wrestles anything like he did two seasons ago, he should be the No. 1 option for the Hawkeyes at 184 pounds.

And, I don’t know this for sure, but I bet Assad has a chip on his shoulder. Normally, All-Americans don’t enjoy sitting on the sidelines like he did in 2020.

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