No offense to all you basketball-loving readers, but this is wrestling season.
I know March Madness kicks into high gear this week with all the conference basketball tournaments that aren’t the Big Ten or the Missouri Valley. The NCAA will announce its tournament brackets Sunday (men) and Monday (women).
But, seriously, if you’re living in Eastern Iowa — all of Iowa, actually — what is there to get excited about on the basketball court? The Iowa women are having a special season behind a very special player and that does deserve attention. A lot of attention.
But that’s about it outside the Kirkwoods and Wartburgs of our world.
Which brings me back to my original statement.
This is wrestling season.
And this week kicked off with a bit of shocking news — and I don’t mean Iowa’s lackluster performance at the Big Ten Championships in East Lansing, Mich. But, yes, that was unexpected from this corner.
The big news Monday was when Wisconsin announced its coach, Barry Davis, has resigned after 25 seasons.
Twenty-five seasons? Time certainly does fly.
One of the best Iowa wrestlers I had the pleasure to write about and spend time with, Davis’ endless energy was a joy to behold. He set a pace few wrestlers could match and watching him coach could make you sweat.
“I want to thank Barry for all he’s done for Wisconsin wrestling throughout his time here,” Wisconsin athletics director Barry Alvarez said in a release. “I’ve known Barry for a long time, back to my days as an assistant coach at Iowa and he is one of the most genuine people I’ve ever met. He has left an indelible mark on Wisconsin wrestling.”
There is no doubt about that. Davis made Wisconsin wrestling relevant and had some outstanding seasons. He will be missed.
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“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Wisconsin,” Davis said in the release. “I’ve worked with lots of great people and many tremendous student-athletes. This university will always hold a special place in my heart.”
While the Hawkeyes struggled in East Lansing, Doug Schwab had his Northern Iowa Panthers in a good place at the Big 12 Championships in Tulsa, Okla. UNI had two champions and finished second to Oklahoma State in its first Big 12 tournament.
But the performance of the weekend goes to Coach Nick Mitchell and the Grand View Vikings.
Grand View won its seventh straight NAIA title on Saturday in Des Moines. The Vikings had three champions, including former Alburnett prep Grant Henderson at 165 pounds and ex-West Delaware standout Dean Broghammer at heavyweight. Grand View’s streak is second only to Iowa’s nine-in-a-row and ties it with Oklahoma State and NCAA Division II Cal Poly.
This week brings the NCAA Division II Championships to the U.S. Cellular Center (and NCAA III Championships to Cleveland).
If you haven’t seen a Division II wrestling tournament, you should. This will be some of the best — and most exciting — wrestling you’ve seen in a long time.
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