Winter Sports Update
The Iowa Hawkeyes winter sports teams are heating up. Wrestling is ranked number one, swimming and diving teams continue to post new records while earning national honors, Iowa GymHawks highlight preseason watch lists, and both basketball teams look to repeat their appearance in the NCAA tournament.
Both swimming and diving teams are breaking school records in the pool, earning some top honors. Volunteer assistant coach Deidre Freeman and junior diver Addison Boschult were among the top 125 United States divers competing at the 2014 Winter National Championships December 16-21. Freeman took 2nd place in the women's synchronized 3-meter competition and 5th place in her individual event while Boschult finished 11th overall from the platform and 2nd among Big Ten competitors. Senior Grant Betulius earned another national honor with his qualification for the NCAA Championships, making him the first Hawkeye in school history to receive the honor. Hawkeye fans have the opportunity to cheer on Betulius March 26-28, as the swimming and diving NCAA Championships will be hosted in Iowa City this year at the home of the Hawkeyes. Sophomore Emma Sougstad was named Big Ten Swimmer of the Week for a second time in her young career after winning all four of her events against Iowa State on December 12 and posting two new school records. Both teams dominated the St. Petersburg Classic on January 3, taking a first-place finish in every event, and the men are currently ranked 19th.
The University of Iowa GymHawks had four competitors on 2015 Big Ten Watch Lists. The women earning honors were sophomore Angel Metcalf and senior Sydney Hoerr, while senior Lance Alberhasky and junior Matt Loochtan earned honors for the men. The men’s team is picked to finish sixth in the Big Ten by the Preseason Coach’s Poll and the women have been selected for NCAA Regional Competition six of the last seven seasons. Both teams will push for a postseason experience this year, and back on staff to help with that push is assistant coach Caleb Phillips. After a short time away exploring a career outside of coaching, Phillips believes this is exactly where he belongs. During his previous run with the Hawkeyes, Phillips was in charge of the uneven bar squad, where he coached gymnasts to All Big-Ten honors and National Championship competitions. His uneven bar squads were consistently ranked in the top 20 and he will bring the same enthusiasm to the GymHawks this year.
The top-ranked Iowa wrestling team returns four All-Americans in sophomore Cory Clark (125), junior Nathan Burak (197), and seniors Mike Evans (174) and Bobby Telford (285). The Hawkeyes also welcome the National Duals back to Iowa City. For the first time in 16 years, the hard working Hawkeyes of the mat have an opportunity to display their talents on a national stage at home. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the first NCAA title for the University of Iowa. Since then, the Hawkeyes have been a black and gold force to reckon with, accumulating 23 titles total – a number that more than triples any other school’s total. This year’s Hawkeyes have the same big goals, so they are taking care of business meet by meet. Head coach Tom Brands collected his 150th win after defeating 15th ranked Iowa State early in the season – the third most wins by a coach in Iowa history with a winning record greater than .910. With their record-setting 24th win at the Ken Kraft Midlands Championships on December 29-30, the Hawkeyes rewrote their previous tournament points record and crowned four champions.
The University of Iowa women’s basketball team proved to be the top program in the state this year with wins over in-state rivals Iowa State, UNI, and Drake. Ranked 17th, the team is making a strong run for their eighth straight NCAA tournament appearance. Senior Melissa Dixon shattered the school record for three-pointers made in a game by sinking 10 in a barn-burner against in-state rival Drake. Against Rutgers, she took the top spot on Iowa’s all-time career three-pointers made list and she continues to climb Big Ten lists. Senior Bethany Doolittle became the 33rd player in school history to have over 1,000 career points with her 12 point contribution to the team’s win over Penn State. She is the third player on the current roster to accomplish the feat. Off the court, junior Kali Peschel and senior Aaron White of the men’s team were selected as two of 251 NCAA nominees for the 2015 Good Works® Team. This community service award recognizes a distinguished group of student-athletes who have demonstrated a commitment to enriching the lives of others and contributing to the greater good in their communities. As Our Hawkeyes earn honors on and off the court, their season will continue to challenge them in their quest for an 8th-straight trip to the NCAA tournament.
The men’s basketball team recorded their 400th win in Carver-Hawkeye Arena against Alcorn State in December. Additionally, a win against 12th ranked North Carolina early in the season proves this team has a strong chance for a repeat appearance at the NCAA tournament in March. Senior Aaron White is the new leader for all-time career free throws. White was the only player in the country last year to shoot better than 55 percent from the field and 80 percent from the foul line and ranks first in the country for the percentage of points he scores from the charity stripe – 39 percent of his points come from the free throw line. The Hawkeyes have outscored their opponents so far this season with an average of roughly 70-60. A well-balanced attack has allowed nine different Hawkeyes to see significant playing time in at least 15 of the last 16 games this season, but junior Jarrod Uthoff and senior Gabriel Oleseni are dominating the opposing baskets. With 24 and 32 blocks, respectively, they are currently the only two players on the team in double digits. However, the team remains well-rounded in most statistical categories, helping them fight through a grueling schedule.