Thursday, January 3, 2008
Big crowd expected for Iowa, OSU dual
No. 1 Hawkeyes to host No. 6 Cowboys
By Andy Hamilton
Iowa City Press-Citizen
Iowa officials marketed Oklahoma State's last trip to Carver-Hawkeye Arena as a showdown between the two most storied programs in college wrestling and advertised it as an opportunity to break the NCAA attendance record for a dual meet.
The bid for the record failed miserably. The turnout of 8,157 barely made it halfway to the NCAA mark Minnesota established in 2002 when it crammed 15,646 into the Target Center when the Gophers wrestled the Hawkeyes in Minneapolis.
Iowa officials haven't been talking about breaking attendance records this week, but the Hawkeyes might end up with one of the top crowds in arena history Saturday night when the Cowboys come back to town.
"I'd say we'll be close to a sellout," Iowa ticket manager Pam Finke said. "The weather will play into it. I don't know what the forecast is, but that'll be the one thing that holds us back -- the weather."
Finke said about 8,000 tickets had been sold as of Wednesday afternoon, but the Hawkeyes are banking on a big turnout at the ticket window Saturday night before the 7 p.m. meeting between top-ranked Iowa and the No. 6 Cowboys.
The Hawkeyes have packed more than 13,000 into Carver-Hawkeye Arena seven times for home dual meets, most recently last season when 13,732 turned out for Iowa's 24-6 win against Iowa State. Iowa's home attendance record of 15,291 has been around since 1992 when Tom Brands, now the head coach of the Hawkeyes, was a senior at Iowa.
The Hawkeyes haven't beaten Oklahoma State since their last national championship squad posted a 20-14 victory over the Cowboys on Feb. 4, 2000, in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Oklahoma State has won the last eight meetings in the series, but the firepower Iowa sent to the mat during many of those duals doesn't match up with what the Hawkeyes have now.
Iowa is coming off an impressive showing at the Midlands Championships, where it set a tournament record with 185 points and had four individual champions. Finke said that performance has helped boost ticket sales this week.
"We sold about 500 tickets (Wednesday)," she said. "We really want to encourage people to either come during the week and buy them so they have them in their hands or go online and do a print at home for them so they don't have to wait in line Saturday night.
"Wrestling fans are notorious last-minute shoppers, and (the Midlands) was a great win. I know there's a lot of high school events going on and the weather isn't in our favor. We'd really like to sell it out, but we want people to come early."