April 26, 2012
Editor's Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa's Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- During last weekend's Olympic Wrestling Team Trials held in Iowa City, the public address announcer kept referring to Carver-Hawkeye Arena as "the house that Gable built" and "the home of wrestling in the United States."
Fans across the state of Iowa have always had a deep appreciation for the sport. It showed last weekend with Olympic Wrestling Team Trials attendance records shattering more often than challenge blocks being thrown by coaches during matches. Last weekend proved the Hawkeye state loves its wrestling.
That sounds like common knowledge to a native Iowan, but the best freestyle and Greco Roman wrestlers in the United States were able to experience the electric Carver-Hawkeye Arena atmosphere firsthand over the weekend. Judging by the comments made by nearly all of the 220 competitors in the event, they weren't disappointed.
"It's amazing. I've had a chance to travel the world, go to Iran; so I know what this is like. But there's nothing like being in Iowa and good 'ole Iowans. I got a standing ovation, and I don't even know if they know who I am. I threw my shoes at them because they deserve it. Extremely humbling."
Henry Cejudo - 2008 Olympic gold medalist who retired at the 2012 Trials
"This makes me want to move to Iowa for some reason. To see so many people cheering and people getting standing ovations. They really appreciate a single leg and know what they're talking about. It's really great. It's really, really, really nice to see so many people appreciate what you do because we're not as popular as basketball or football. It's really nice because people really know what we go through and appreciate it because we work hard."
Elena Pirozhkova - women's freestyle 63 KG champion
"I love it. It's the best. They couldn't have picked a better place. Gable's home? I love it."
Ellis Coleman - Greco Roman 60 KG champion
"I've never been in front of a crowd this big. When you are walking out, you kind of have to make yourself block it all out. If you don't it might get to you. It was a great crowd here."
Chas Betts - Greco Roman 84 KG champion
"It has been a great place to train and wrestle. Aside from it being my home arena, the venue is great. I think they did an awesome in setting everything up and keeping things in order. It was really fun to get a chance to wrestle here. If it does end up back here at any of the next years for the World Trials or the Olympic Trials, I'd definitely be excited about that. Not for the fact that it's Carver-Hawkeye Arena, also that, but more the fact that it's just a great place to wrestle, and there is a great crowd."
Matt McDonough - men's freestyle 55 KG
"One of the best arenas I've wrestled in. The fans were great. When they roared it was something special. I think this is a great place to hold the trials."
Travis Paulsen, men's freestyle 84 KG
"This place is awesome. I never imagined anything like this. This is a great arena".
Ben Provisor - Greco Roman 74 KG
"I heard the crowd. I have wrestled in here before. I know these fans and they know me. You have to get amped up for it. You don't see this. You may see it in Iran or Russia, but not in the United States. It is awesome."
Jared Frayer - men's freestyle 66 KG champion
"I love it. Iowa did an awesome job hosting this. I don't know how many people we (Oklahoma State) had in 2008, but last time we had something like this was at NCAA's. I like the crowd. I like all the people watching."
Coleman Scott - men's freestyle 60 KG champion
"This is one of the best places to wrestle in the country. The fans act up and it gets loud in here. It's pretty energetic."
CP Schlatter - Greco Roman 66 KG