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Wrestling Media Day: Brands & Co. Speak

We weren’t there, but other people were.

Iowa Okie State Brands Bros Callie Mitchell DI Callie Mitchell

After a quiet spring and summer for the Hawkeye wrestlers, things are slowly but surely picking up before the season begins November 17. With wrestle-offs out of the way, Tom Brands held his team’s media day Tuesday and per usual, gave us plenty to discuss.

The gist? This year’s squad is both rebuilding and reloading, and after graduating five starters, has a lot of holes to fill. Brandon Sorensen, Michael Kemerer, and a healthy Sam Stoll are the only returners with significant experience, meaning seven weights are — to varying degrees — up for grabs.

We’ll jump into weight-by-weight previews next week, and discuss some other odds and ends today. If you’re itching for more, the Register put together a rather extensive notebook here, Hawkeye Sports highlights are here, with some more nuggets here, here, and here.

  • We’ll begin with mega-recruit and 125-pounder Spencer Lee. The true freshman is the crown jewel of Brands’ most recent recruiting class, and along with Jacob Warner at 197, could find himself in the starting lineup this year.

Thomas Gilman’s shoes are big ones to fill, and it sounds like Lee will get his fair shot at them. A decision won’t be made until January when Midlands have come and gone and I know, I know, this sounds like the Alex Marinelli situation from last year (he’s healthy and ready to go, by the way), but given the way Brands spoke, it’d be a shock not to see him in Carver in 2018.

And while he hasn’t wrestled a match for Iowa, he’s already brought value to the program. His dad, Larry, gave Brands the book on how the “you know who’s” of college wrestling are recruiting against the Hawkeyes. This info, Brands said, helped solidify his need for a new facility (read on), and taught him to look at the big picture of the recruiting landscape.

I'm not worried about what's going on out there. I'm not worried about it. It's like, you don't really care; "One thing about Brands, he doesn't care what people think about him.”

Well, you know what, I do care when people think about me now because they are using it against us. We don't have any funds; we're robots. Hey, we're having a blast, man. We're having a blast.

Here’s to hoping Lee, Warner, and other newcomers are part of that blast.

  • We learned more about the proposed facility construction announced earlier this summer in conjunction with Brands’ contract extension — the site being surveyed would house an addition to Carver rather than a freestanding structure.

This, Brands said, is as important as it gets and although no timetable has been given, it sounds like this thing is going to happen one way or another.

I look at it like what's essential and how we have evaluated and what we need going forward. And we need it […] We need to show the future that is about winning National World Olympic Championships. The best kids in the country, the best athletes, wrestlers in the country, we need to show them that we are committed to them and their well-being through this process.

I’m the furthest thing from an engineer — any guesses on where this thing could fit in Carver? It’s already a tight squeeze over there, and it seems like a new facility could have serious impact on the west side. Thoughts?

  • Brands, on his freshman, presented without further comment.

A guy gets banged in the nose, blood is pouring, nose might be broke. Might have to stop and go call mom and dad and run to the trainer and put a face mask on him. No. Shake it off.

Big glob of paper towels, pull them up, no face mask, no phone call to mom and dad. This is my decision; I'm going. Clock's ticking. Time to go. You know, that's our freshmen. That's our freshmen.

I left you earlier this week with a Challenge comment, so let’s do the same now. TJ got us, folks! Of all the clichés we get on the MTV series, “TJ’s the dirtiest of them all” is a personal favorite. And damnit, TJ struck again!

In retrospect, it should’ve been obvious as this week’s episode wasn’t billed as the season finale, rather the final challenge. This means MTV gets another hour of my — and hopefully your — life during the finale reunion episode next week to reveal the winner. It seems Jordan won in a landslide for the dudes, and lord knows for the ladies.

If Camila takes home crown, well, at least we got one last all-time freak out on a mountain.