Brands Named National Coach Of The Year

John Bohnenkamp

Tom Brands never got to take the Iowa wrestling team to the final step this season.

The message from the coach all season was that his top-ranked Hawkeyes were only focused on the next step, that it was all building toward winning the NCAA national title.

The Hawkeyes never got that chance. They went undefeated in dual meets during the regular season, winning the Big Ten duals title as well as the conference championship.

But Iowa's bid for a national championship ended before it could begin, when the NCAA canceled all of the winter championships over concerns about the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Brands, though, was honored for the Hawkeyes' season, when he was named the national coach of the year by amateur wrestling website InterMat..

Brands won the award with eight of 10 first-place votes from the writers at InterMat, and finished 84 total points. Princeton's Chris Ayers was second with 39 points.

Brands led the Hawkeyes to the top of every national ranking this season, posting a 13-0 dual record, including 9-0 in the Big Ten. The Hawkeyes won the Big Ten Championships, crowning three individual champions and scoring 157.5 points, the program's highest total since 1995. Brands was named Big Ten Coach of the Year, and junior Spencer Lee was named Big Ten Wrestler of the Year.

The Hawkeyes would have gone to the NCAA Championships with three top seeds, nine wrestlers seeded eighth or better, and another seeded 11th. Iowa was the favorite to win the team title, which would have been its 24th national crown in program history.

Iowa also led the nation in attendance for the 14th consecutive year, setting a NCAA dual record average of 12,568.