Iowa Hawkeyes

Iowa wrestling sets NCAA season attendance record

Iowa State is third behind Penn State, UNI finishes 13th

Iowa's Pat Lugo wrestles Penn State's Jarod Verkleeren in their 149-pound match at the Iowa Hawkeyes' wrestling dual wit
Iowa’s Pat Lugo wrestles Penn State’s Jarod Verkleeren in their 149-pound match at the Iowa Hawkeyes’ wrestling dual with the Penn State Nittany Lions at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Friday, Jan. 31, 2020. Lugo won by decision, 6-1. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

University of Iowa wrestling fans have flocked to Carver-Hawkeye Arena for years.

The Hawkeyes have led the nation in average attendance for the last 14 years and have competed in front of some of the largest crowds ever to see a wrestling dual. This season was better than ever.

Iowa set a record for attendance, averaging 12,568 fans for seven home duals. According to Friday’s news release from the National Wrestling Media Association, the top-ranked Hawkeyes drew 87,979 spectators for the 2019-20 season, including a high of 14,905 for a 19-17 victory over No. 2 Penn State on Jan. 31.

Iowa had an impressive home slate this season, wrestling highly-ranked Nebraska, Ohio State and the defending national champion Nittany Lions in consecutive weeks. The crowd for the Ohio State dual was recorded at 13,405, while 12,883 attended the Nebraska dual.

Iowa drew 10,603 for its Big Ten Conference opener against Wisconsin and 10,466 in the season opener against Chattanooga. The Hawkeyes closed their dual schedule with Minnesota (12,608) and Oklahoma State (13,109). The latter was Senior Night on Feb. 23.

Penn State was second, averaging 7,604 fans per home dual including a high 15,995 against Ohio State.

The Big Ten champions went 13-0 in duals overall and 9-0 in the conference. The Hawkeyes have led the nation in attendance in each of head coach Tom Brands’ 14 seasons. This year was the 12th straight the Hawkeyes averaged more than 8,000 fans.

Iowa State was third, averaging home crowds of 4,794. The Cyclones drew a total of 33,562 fans for seven duals at Hilton Coliseum in Ames. The annual Cy-Hawk Series produced Iowa State’s largest home crowd of 11,238. Iowa State Coach Kevin Dresser continues to rebuild the program, leading the Cyclones to a 10-5 overall dual record and 7-1 mark in the Big 12. Iowa State drew 5,129 for its conference dual with in-state rival Northern Iowa. Oklahoma State wrestled Iowa State in front of 4,403 fans.

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UNI was 13th overall in average attendance, welcoming 2,167 fans per dual at West Gym. The Panthers drew 13,006 fans for six home duals. Their largest crowd of 4,006 attended the 19-15 conference dual win over then-No. 8 Oklahoma State on Jan. 25. UNI finished the season 8-4 overall and 6-2 in the Big 12.

Comments: (319) 368-8679; kj.pilcher@thegazette.com

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