Iowa is synonymous with college wrestling and the legend of former wrestling coach Dan Gable. In Gable”s 21 years at Iowa from 1977 to 1997, the Hawkeyes captured 21 consecutive Big Ten titles and had a span in which they won nine consecutive NCAA championships.
The Gable Era has since ended, but the Iowa wrestling program is still as dominant as ever. Under head coach Jim Zalesky, the Hawkeyes have gone 62-11 with three NCAA title since Gable”s retirement in 1997.
But all of the legends and myths surrounding Iowa”s wrestling program had no effect on Michigan Friday night, as the Wolverines traveled to a hostile Carver-Hawkeye Arena and upset the Hawkeyes, 20-15. Michigan won the last five matches of the evening to overcome an early 12-4 deficit.
“That arena was loud and it was hostile, but our guys just kept their focus and hung tough,” Michigan coach Joe McFarland said.
Up until last year, Iowa had won 12 of 13 dual meets versus the Wolverines, but Michigan is 3-0 in the last three outings.
On Jan. 19, Michigan topped Iowa 23-12 at the National Duals. That victory was keyed by wins from Michigan 165-pounder Charles Martelli, and 174-pounder Otto Olson. The crowd at National Duals was small and limited to family and friends of Michigan and Iowa wrestlers. When the two teams clashed last year at Michigan, it was an entirely different story.
At Cliff Keen Arena, in front of a sellout crowd of 2,000 fans, No. 5 Michigan upset No. 3 Iowa, 18-16 to avenge a loss to the Hawkeyes earlier in the season. At that match, the fire department was forced to come in and clear out some people because it was so packed.
The Gable era has ended, but the Iowa wrestling program is still going strong. The Michigan-Iowa rivalry continues to get stronger as the Wolverines continue to improve. With Friday”s win over Iowa, Michigan will most likely move into second-place in the NWCA polls, its highest ranking ever.