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Five for Friday: Picking the Best Hawkeye Wrestlers

Anyone want to challenge your BHGP writers in some fantasy wrestling?

2019 NCAA Division I Men’s Wrestling Championship
Spencer Lee makes you want to give up sometimes.
Photo by Justin K. Aller/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

With all the animosity between groups out there, and no I’m not talking Democrats and Republicans, I wanted to try something out where everyone is always correct.

On Fridays, I will throw out a topic asking for your top five in whatever the conversation is that week. I’ll give my opinion and then read your choices in the comments section. We’ll keep this going as long as there is some participation.

As these are your (or my) opinions, we can’t be wrong so just have fun with the topic.

Last week we attempted to see if we had any Nostradamus’ who could predict where A.J. Epenesa and Tristan Wirfs would be drafted. This week we’re going to continue on the fantasy sports theme that we started a few weeks ago with basketball and try to determine the first five Iowa wrestlers that would be drafted in a fantasy league.

Five for Friday

First off, anyone interested in participating in an Iowa fantasy wrestling league with a couple of your BHGP writers, please let me know your interest in the comments section. Once we have at least eight people, we’ll hold a draft through a shared Google Doc.

The rules will be fairly simple, you need to draft one former Hawkeye wrestler at each current weight class (and a coach - who could have been a head coach or an assistant while at Iowa). The draft will be a traditional serpentine style and due to changes in weight classes over the year, liberties will be allowed to make sure a wrestler fits in the appropriate class. Trez will be the judge and jury on all decisions of whether a wrestler fits a weight class.

Once the teams are drafted, matchups will be made and the lineups will be presented to the readers who will vote on who would win the dual meet. Winners advance, losers go home.

My Five for Friday

This is a terribly tough exercise due to the talent that has come through the Iowa wrestling room over the years. I trimmed my list to seven and even that eliminated such tremendous choices such as Brent Metcalf, Royce Alger, and Mark Ironside (among many deserving candidates). So with apologies to Joe Williams and Jim Zalesky, here are my top five draft choices.

  1. Ed Banach (177/190): Banach was a three-time NCAA Champion. He was the 1983 Big Ten Athlete of the Year and the sixth wrestler in Big Ten history to win four conference titles. Banach had a career record of 141-9-1 and holds the school record for most pins in a career (73), ranks second in season pins (22), fourth in career wins (141), eighth in season wins (41 in 1980), and eighth in career winning percentage (.937) in school history.
  2. Tom Brands (126/134): Brands was also a three-time NCAA and Big Ten Champion. He was named Outstanding Wrestler at the 1992 NCAA Championships. Brands has a career record of 158-7- 2 and had undefeated seasons in 1991 and 1992. He ranks second in season wins (45 in 1991) and career wins (158), fourth in career winning percentage (.952), and eighth in career pins (46).
  3. Lincoln McIlravy (150): McIlravy was a three-time NCAA and Big Ten Champion. He was named the Outstanding Wrestler of the 1997 NCAA Championships. McIlravy has a career record was 96-3-0 and has two undefeated seasons (1994 and 1997). He also ranks third in career winning percentage (.970).
  4. Barry Davis (118/126): Davis was a three-time NCAA Champion and was named the Big Ten Athlete of the Year and Outstanding Wrestler at the NCAA Championships in 1985. Davis was the seventh wrestler in Big Ten history to win four conference titles. His career record was 162-9-2 and he holds the school records for most wins in a season (46 in 1982) and in a career (162).
  5. Spencer Lee (125): While just a junior and the only guy on the list with “just” two national titles, Lee is on pace to become the first Hawkeye to win four titles and may just make an Olympic team in the process. While Lee won’t approach the record books for number of wins or pins, his relentless style in opening up meets is a big motivator for the rest of the team. So far this season, Lee is 9-0 while earning bonus points in every match.

So those are my top picks, what do you think? Anyone interested in being part of a fun, fantasy draft, let me know.

Go Hawks!