NEWTON, Iowa — It’s no secret that the University of Iowa wrestling program has led the nation in attendance the past ten years, but Iowa Wrestling — led by its head coach Tom Brands, assistant coaches, athletic administration and its fans — made even more wrestling news this past fall when they put on the “Grapple on the Gridiron,” Nov. 14, 2015, in the Kinnick football stadium in Iowa City, Iowa.
The outdoor event, which saw Iowa defeat long-time rival Oklahoma State in a dual meet, also drew a record 42,287 fans … to kick off a five-month period that also saw the university successfully host the Big Ten Championships and Olympic Trials at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Because of this success, Brands and Iowa Wrestling were named the winners of the 2016 Mike Chapman Impact Award.
“I cannot remember any event that sparked more positive comments for the sport of wrestling than the ‘Grapple on the Gridiron.’ I think it was wonderful that fans showed up in such numbers,” said Mike Chapman, the founder of WIN Magazine and the Dan Hodge Trophy.
“I think you dedicate the award to the fans,” Brands said. “They didn’t just show up. They showed up in droves. The day we announced it, I said there is only one place where fans are kooky enough to do this, that’s at the University of Iowa. The Iowa fan is a unique entity all by themselves.”
This also happened in an academic year that saw Iowa athletics deal with the success of the football and men’s basketball teams that were ranked as high as No. 4 in the country.
“Because we have a great staff, we have people who get excited about putting on unique events,” UI athletics director Gary Barta said. “When they first came to me a couple years ago on our first-go around with the Olympic Trials, we had to spend a lot of time thinking about it. When we said yes, we knew there was a lot of risk involved. We also knew there was risk in the “Grapple on the Gridiron.” One week later, we were removing nine inches of snow off Kinnick Stadium.
“But there is a culture and a group of people here who love to try new things, knowing they are not going to get much sleep for several days.”
All-Time Mike Chapman Impact Award Winners
|2016||Tom Brands & Iowa Wrestling|
|2015||Andy Barth & Wayne Boyd, Titan Mercury WC|
|2014||Martin Floreani, FloWrestling|
|2013||Jim & Bill Scherr, Save Olympic Wrestling|
|2012||Billy Baldwin, Binghamton & Clay McEldowney, ASC|
|2011||Tim Curley and Penn State Athletic Department|
|2010||Greg Hatcher, Arkansas Wrestling|
|2009||Bob Ferraro, NHSCA, and Scott Casber, TDRTV|
|2008||Tom Ryan, Ohio State head coach|
|2007||Ivan Ivanov, USOEC head Greco coach|
|2006||Al and Chris Bevilacqua, Beat the Streets|
|2005||Jack Roller, World of Wrestling|
|2004||Rulon Gardner, Two-time Olympic medal winner|
|2003||Toby Willis and Matt Case, RealProWrestling|
|2002||Larry Joseph and Eric Pearson, Title IX|
|1999||Mike and Bev Chapman, International Wrestling Institute and Museum|
|1998||Kimberly Schuld and Doug Brooker, IPTV|
|1997||Dan Gable, Iowa head coach, and Leo Kocher, Title IX|
|1996||Dave and Nancy Schultz|
|1995||Dennis Hastert, Speaker of the House, and Dale Anderson|