The University of Iowa University of Iowa

Top Ten: Hawkeye Wrestlers

The University of Iowa has a rich history of wrestling, winning 23 of the last 37 national titles. Although the Hawkeyes couldn’t win it all this season, head coach Tom Brands did get his team into a third place finish. Not a bad considering Iowa started the season out of the top ten.

Iowa has been a factory of dominating wrestlers for many years, but who is the best that Iowa has to offer?

Now that the season is over, we’d like to take a chance to give you KRUI’s top ten all-time Iowa Hawkeye wrestlers.


10. T.J. Williams, 149-157 lbs, 1998-2001, 2 NCAA titles, three time all-American, one career loss

T.J. Williams only wrestled three years at Iowa, but in those seasons he fought his way to a 98-1 record, which ranks #1 in school winning percentage.  In the year he didn’t win an individual championship, he earned a 3rd place finish.  He is also one of four Iowa wrestlers who compiled two undefeated seasons.

TJ Williams (red) at the 2004 US Nationals (Photo from



9. Mark Ironside, 134 lbs, 1994-1998, 2 NCAA titles, four time all-American, 1998 Dan Hodge Trohpy

Now the color commentator for the Iowa Hawkeye broadcasts, Mark Ironside finished his collegiate career on a 67 match winning streak, which spanned three seasons.  He was also the first Hawkeye to earn the Dan Hodge Trophy, which has been awarded since 1995.

Ironside with the 1998 Dan Hodge Trophy (phot from



8. Brent Metcalf, 149 lbs, 2007-2010, 2 NCAA titles, three time all-American, 2008 Dan Hodge Trophy, 2008 Jesse Owens Big Ten Athlete of the Year

If Metcalf had been granted his appeal to wrestle after transferring from Virginia Tech, it’s very possible he would be in the top five of this list.  If he had defeated Darion Caldwell in the 2009 title match, he beyond a doubt would be.  In his three seasons he finished no worse than 2nd place, and only lost three collegiate matches.  After winning the 2008 title, Metcalf was awarded the 2008 Jesse Owens Big Ten Athlete of the Year, something usually saved for football and basketball players.

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7. Joe Scarpello, 175 lbs, 1946-1950, 2 NCAA titles, four time all-American, 1942 National AAU Champion

Iowa’s first two time NCAA Champion and first four time all American, Scarpello had two undefeated seasons well before Iowa a wrestling power house.  He started his career with a 12-0 season, then placed 3rd and 2nd before finishing with an 11-0 campaign.

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6. Joe Williams, 158-167 lbs, 1993-1998, 3 NCAA titles, four time all-American

Williams finished his career at Iowa on a 39 match winning streak, which enveloped an Outstanding Wrestler award for the 1998 championships.  His senior year was an undefeated operation, and he only lost once in both his sophomore and junior years.

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5. Barry Davis, 118-126 lbs, 1980-1984, 3 NCAA titles, four time all-American, 1984 Olympic Silver Medal, 1985 Jesse Owens Big Ten Athlete of the Year

Now the head coach at Wisconsin, Barry Davis finished 7th in his freshman run, then went on to three NCAA titles.  Davis also won four Big Ten titles, and although he never had an undefeated campaign, he holds the school record for most wins in a career (162) and a single season (46).

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4. Jim Zalesky, 158 lbs, 1980-1984, 3 NCAA titles, four time all-American, 89 consecutive wins

Former Iowa and current Oregon State coach, Zalesky finished his career at Iowa better than any other Hawk. He left Iowa on an 89 match win streak, a run that spanned three seasons and is now a school record, 20 more than Tom Brands and Brent Metcalf (69).  Zalesky was also named Outstanding Wrestler of the 1984 Championships.

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3.  Tom Brands, 126-134 lbs, 1988-1992, 3 NCAA titles, four time all-American, 1996 Olympic Gold Medal

Now the head Hawkeye, Tom Brands won fourth place his freshman year, then went on to win three consecutive NCAA titles.  His 158 career wins is good enough for 2nd in school history.  In his final year, Brands was undnamed Outstanding Wrestler at the NCAA Tournament.

Photo from Getty Images



2. Lincoln McIlravy, 142-150 lbs, 1992-1997, 3 NCAA titles, four time all-American, 2000 Olympic Bronze

Now an Iowa City area business man, McIlravy had two undefeated seasons at Iowa, and wrestled his way through college to a 96-3 career record, which included two undefeated seasons.  He was in the NCAA championship match four times, his only loss coming in 1995.  His career winning percentage  (97%) is also 3rd best in school history.

AP Photo/Jeff T. Green



1. Ed Banach, 177-190 lbs, 1979-83, 3 NCAA Titiles, four time all-American, 1984 Olympic Gold, 1983 Jesse Owens Big Ten Athlete of the Year

A dominating wrestler, Banach holds the school record for most career pins,and was also in the championship match four times.   Banach was the 1983 Big Ten Athlete of the Year and ranks 2nd in season pins at Iowa.  Add a stellar wrestling career after college, and Ed Banach is our #1 Hawkeye wrestler of all time.

Ed Banach (red) at the 1984 Summer Olympics (photo from

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