As we close out 2017 we decided to take a look back at some of the top articles we produced to reflect on the year that was. The order of the list is based off of the traffic each post generated.

1. Dan Gable Wrestler of the Year Award – FAN VOTE – By Tony Hager

This is new to IAwrestle this year, as we partnered with Fareway, Powerade, and the IWCOA to bring a fan element to “The Dan Gable Mr. Wrestler of the Year Awards”. Fans are able to vote for their pick to win the Mr. Wrestler award for each class, with the first round of voting ending on January 10th. From there a new round of voting will open up with the list of wrestlers being narrowed down from 15 to 10.

2. Northern Iowa Expected to Join Big 12 – By Nic Ryder

Credit to Nic Ryder for breaking this one. Earlier this summer the MAC conference announced the addition of Southern Illinois-Edwardsville to their conference which ramped up the speculation that UNI would be moving to the Big 12 for wrestling only. After confirming with sources, we broke that Northern Iowa was in fact was joining a new conference.

Josh Conklin Photo

3. Hawkeyes Open Road Trip with 23-15 Win over Rutgers – By Ross Bartachek

The 2017-18 season has an odd feel to it for the Hawkeyes. At the beginning of the year it seemed to feel like every week speculation would come up on whether or not this Iowa lineup would go down to Illinois, or will Rutgers manage to take them down, etc. With all the build up on whether or not this would be the year that the Rutgers program would be strong enough to down their conference opponent, it’s no surprise this article received heavy interest.

4. Justin Mejia officially NOT at Iowa – By Tony Hager

What a back-and-forth saga. California standout Justin Mejia committed and rescinded his verbal to the University of Iowa..TWICE. After getting his admittance to Illinois denied, Mejia opened his option back up and looked at the Hawkeyes, the program he first committed to as a sophomore. After about a month of deciding he wanted to be in Iowa City, Mejia backed out and switched to Illinois for the second time. There were a lot of moving parts to this story, and in the end I think Mejia made the right call, but that doesn’t make the drama that unfolded any less compelling.

5. Tom Brands Says “Free the Lee” – By Ross Bartachek

Since he committed all the speculation about Spencer Lee would be whether or not he would wrestle as a true freshman. There was no denying he was ready talent-wise, but a knee injury suffered in January slammed the breaks on what many considered a sure thing. The topic is still widely being discussed by the wrestling community, even after his loss in the Midlands semifinals. This article referenced Brands making the comment about Lee’s return to the mat, and what his wrestler needs to do to take over that starting role.

Tony Rotundo photo

6. Pat Downey to Transfer to the University of Iowa – By Tony Hager

Speaking of stories high in drama, welcome to the Pat Downey show. A 2016 All-American for Iowa State, Downey was kicked off the Cyclones in the early months of 2017 due to violating team rules. A fact that wasn’t relayed to him by the staff Downey told us in an interview, in fact Downey learned of his dismissal through our own article. A few months later Downey made the decision to transfer to Iowa, though he still isn’t officially listed on the roster.

7. Nelson Brands commits to Iowa – By Ross Bartachek

Wrestling is a community that loves its legends, and in the state of Iowa Tom and Terry Brands are up there among the all-time greats from our state. Both were standout wrestlers in high school, college, and in freestyle and both currently lead the University of Iowa as head and associate head coach. Naturally when one of our legends has a son, and that son shows a knack for our sport, fans gravitate to that, getting a taste of their past. Nelson Brands was probably always going to wrestle for Iowa, so maybe his commitment to the Hawkeyes didn’t shock the nation, but for those who enjoy legacy wrestling, this was definitely a win. In fact, Brands may one day find himself wrestling a legacy recruit in David Carr, who is following in his father’s footsteps at Iowa State.

I’ll add that Nelson definitely remains adamant that he is his own person, and his decision to go to Iowa wasn’t based on his father’s past, but rather based on the opportunity to compete for one of the nation’s top programs.

8. Sam Cook Shedding Pads for Singlet at Iowa – By Tony Hager

While the wrestling community is proud when one of our own goes on to be a successful in other sports, such as football, a little part of us always wonders what could have been on the mat. That was definitely the case with Sam Cook who was top 100 wrestling recruit out of Fort Dodge, but opted for shoulder pads and helmets in Iowa City. After a year on the gridiron, Cook missed the mat and officially joined the wrestling team instead.

9. Brody Teske Announces Top 5 Schools – By Ross Bartachek and Tony Hager

A collaborative piece, Brody Teske was a hot commodity in the recruiting game this summer with offers from Iowa, Iowa State, Penn State, Minnesota, and Northern Iowa (among others). After Underwood’s Alex Thomsen announced for Nebraska, Teske immediately became the top prospect in the state, and one of the top available lightweights nationwide. Shortly after the July 1st contact period Teske announced his top five schools, before ultimately picking Penn State.

10. Best Dual Teams of the Past Decade – By Eric Schares

When it comes to high school analysis, very few put in the effort than our own Eric Schares, who did the digging to find the best Dual Teams of the last decade. Not much can be said about the post other than its a fantastic barometer that looks at the last five and ten year windows of our state’s dual teams.

By Ross Bartachek (@rossbchek)

Lead Editor of IA Wrestle