The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Iowa men’s wrestling prepping for Big Ten Championships

The conference tournament is March 8-9 in College Park, Maryland. Seven Hawkeyes are seeded fifth or higher in their respective weight classes.
Daniel McGregor-Huyer
No. 3 seeded 165-pound Iowa’s Patrick Kennedy wrestles Michigan’s No.2 Cameron Amine during session two of the Big Ten Wrestling Championships at Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, Mich. on Saturday, March. 4, 2023. Kennedy defeated Amine, 3-2.

Championship season for several collegiate sports is just days away.

For Iowa men’s wrestling, the postseason will start with the Big Ten Championships in College Park, Maryland.

The two-day event begins on March 8 at 9 a.m., and Session II starts at 4 p.m.  Session III is slated to start at 11 a.m. on March 9 followed by the finals at 3:30 p.m. Sessions I, II, and IV will be televised live on Big Ten Network. All four sessions will be streamed live on Big Ten Plus. 

The Hawkeyes head into the tournament ranked No. 2 in the nation, coming off a win over then-No. 2 Oklahoma State to improve to 12-2 overall.

“This is the second most important event, and it’s the most important event up to this point in time,” Iowa head coach Tom Brands said at media availability Tuesday.  “It is a qualifier, you got to get through this to get to the next one. Everything that you do well today helps you for tomorrow, and if you stumbled today, you’ve got to get up and go tomorrow also. So really, you write your own ticket.”

Pre-seeds for the conference tournament were announced Monday, and seven Hawkeyes are seeded fifth or higher in their respective weight classes. No Hawkeye received a top seed — the last time this happened was at the 2022 Big Ten Tournament.

Iowa pre-seeds

125 pounds: No. 2 Drake Ayala
133 pounds: No. 14 Brody Teske
141 pounds: No. 3 Real Woods
149 pounds: No. 3 Caleb Rathjen
157 pounds: No. 4 Jared Franek
165 pounds: No. 3 Michael Caliendo
174 pounds: No. 3 Patrick Kennedy
184 pounds: No. 13 Aiden Riggins
197 pounds: No. 3 Zach Glazier
285 pounds: No. 7 Bradley Hill

Teske received the No. 14 seed in the 133-pound weight class, which raised some questions from fans and media. Allegedly, Iowa initially entered Cullan Schriever at 133 pounds and then switched to Teske after the deadline. Teske has wrestled the last two dual meets for the Hawkeyes, defeating Wisconsin’s Nicolar Rivera, 19-4, but losing in a hard-fought battle to Oklahoma State’s third-ranked Daton Fix, 7-3.

Head coach Tom Brands gave more context about Teske’s seeding at media availability on Tuesday.

“In my assessment and in the program’s assessment, it was right to get the timing right for the wrestle-off for a lot of reasons,” Brands said. “It’s a policy, I guess you could say, with the Big Ten, that when you submit your lineup and you get to a certain point, and you do change, there has to be a certain number of points. It’s got to be close within two or three points — I’m not sure exactly what it is — on whether or not you can open it up for a coach’s vote. And the policy says that because of, you know, how this went down, we are not able to open it up for another vote. So he goes in as a 14 seed, and away we go.”

Teske said it doesn’t matter to him where he’s seeded, and he’s just excited about the opportunity to compete. The 133-pounder said he “loves where he’s at” and is “in the best form he’s ever been in.” Teske, a fifth-year, added he has made weight every match this season, which is the first time that’s happened in his college career. Teske competed in two Big 12 Championships during his time at Northern Iowa, winning a conference title at 125 pounds in 2021 and finishing as the runner-up in 2022.

“As far as the seating and all that stuff goes — it’s championship season for a reason. And nobody’s going to come and just lay down. Everyone’s coming to fight. So you got to be ready to bring the fight. If you’re not, you probably should stay home,” Teske said.

With Riggins and Hill entered at 184 and 285 pounds, respectively, first-years Gabe Arnold and Ben Kueter are officially keeping their redshirt and will have four years of eligibility left after this season. According to NCAA guidelines, first-years can wrestle in five dates of competition without burning their redshirt. Arnold wrestled in five dates this season, while Kueter competed in four.

“I mean, there’s a lot of things that go into those decisions. They were certainly capable. We have other guys that are capable there as well. There are different reasons for both of them,” Brands said of keeping Arnold and Keuter’s redshirt. “When you look at each individual reason, the bottom line is at the end of this process, this program and this guy really liked the idea of both those guys being here for four more years.”

Brands said the decision to redshirt Kueter, a two-sport athlete, was not mutually decided with the Iowa football staff.

“I think they run their organization, and we run ours knowing that we have a very capable and unique athlete. I think both programs are really excited about him and his future,” Brands said. “So, we come across that bridge communication-wise when we get there, but to answer your question, this wasn’t like a mutual decision like so he can be better as a second year going into the spring football season.”

For Glazier, a fourth-year, this will be his first time competing in the postseason. He is 21-1 with six ranked wins. Glazier said he and his teammates did a good job at being ready to wrestle from the first whistle against Oklahoma State, and they aim to carry that approach into March.

“We do that and then just get tough and figure out how to beat good guys and win big matches,” Glazier said. “We’ve had a little bit of ups and downs. Maybe you want to call it that from an outsider’s perspective anyway. That [win over Oklahoma State] was a little bit of an up and puts us in a good spot leading into this weekend.”

Six Iowa wrestlers have previous Big Ten Tournament experience. Along with Glazier, Rathjen, Riggins, and Hill are all making their postseason debuts. Franek and Caliendo are making their Big Ten postseason debuts. Franek was a Big 12 Champion at North Dakota State last season.

Ayala and Kennedy are both making their second appearance at the Big Ten Championships. Ayala finished eighth in 2022, and Kennedy finished second at 165 pounds last year. Woods will try and defend his Big Ten title at 141 pounds.

How to qualify for the NCAA Tournament

The Big Ten leads all conferences with 85 pre-allocated spots for the NCAA Championships. This means 85 Big Ten wrestlers will automatically qualify for nationals.

According to a release from the NCAA,  pre-allocations were awarded based on regular-season performance by conference wrestlers through Feb. 26. The pre-allocations were determined by using a sliding scale of three standards: win percentage, coaches’ rank, and RPI ranking; while never going below the base of .700 winning percentage, top 30 coaches’ ranking, and top 30 RPI ranking until reaching the maximum 29 wrestlers per weight class.

For each wrestler who reached the threshold in at least two of the three categories, his conference tournament was awarded a qualifying spot in that weight class.  For example, Iowa’s Drake Ayala along with eight other 125-pounders in the Big Ten met at least two of the three thresholds, so the conference was awarded nine pre-allocated spots in that weight class. 

Each conference is awarded a minimum of one automatic qualification per weight class, which will go to the conference tournament champion, even if they did not reach at least two of the three thresholds.  NCAA Championship spots will be awarded at conference tournaments based solely on place finish. So, at the Big Ten Tournament, the top nine finishers at 125 pounds will automatically qualify for nationals, and the others will hope for an at-large bid. 

After the conference tournaments have concluded, the committee will meet in person to select the remaining 47 at-large qualifiers, which will be announced on March 12. Brackets and seeding will be announced on at 8 p.m. on March 13.  Each weight class will have 33 wrestlers.  The national tournament will be held at the T-Mobile Center in Kansas City March 21-23. 

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About the Contributors
Kenna Roering
Kenna Roering, Sports Editor
Kenna Roering is The Daily Iowan's sports editor. She is a junior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism with a minor in sports and recreation management. Kenna previously worked as a sports reporter for men's wrestling and volleyball and was the summer sports editor in 2023. This is her second year with the DI.
Daniel McGregor-Huyer
Daniel McGregor-Huyer, Photojournalist/Videographer
Email: [email protected] Daniel McGregor-Huyer is a photojournalist and videographer at The Daily Iowan. He is a senior majoring in cinematic arts with a certificate in disability studies. He has worked with the DI as a photographer and videographer for two years.