Iowa City may host wrestling Classic
By Andy Hamilton
Iowa City Press-Citizen
The event that introduced the wrestling fans of Iowa to one-day college stars Cael Sanderson, Mike Zadick and Mark Perry Jr. is coming back.
The Dream Team Classic is set to return to Iowa next spring, and there’s a strong possibility West High will be selected as the site of the annual meet featuring the nation’s top high school seniors against a team of all-stars from the host state.
“It’ll be fun,” West coach Mark Reiland said. “I don’t know how cool it will be until I figure out how much work I’m actually going to have to do for it.”
Chances are, Reiland could be doing some coaching that night, too. His state championship team includes Nate Moore and Grant Gambrall, two of the state’s top wrestlers in the Class of 2008.
Moore, the No. 1 125-pounder in the country, is one of four nationally-ranked Iowans in a junior class loaded with college prospects. The star-studded group is a primary reason why Wyatt Schultz — a Cedar Rapids resident, co-owner of The Predicament wrestling publication and photographer for the Dream Team Classic — lobbied to bring the meet back to Iowa for the first time since 2003.
“I wanted this class showcased more than anything,” he said. “I think they can be pretty doggone competitive with the Dream Team. You get a lot of those kids in that top-five range, and on a given night, either one of the kids could win. I really think if that Iowa team is motivated, they could give (the Dream Team) a good run.”
Schultz said the date hasn’t been nailed down yet, but the meet likely will be next April and West High is the probable host. He said it will cost approximately $10,000 to cover the travel, accommodations, meals and entertainment for the wrestlers.
The Dream Team Classic has showcased the sport’s future stars since its inception in 1997. The first event, held in Waterloo, featured Sanderson, who went 159-0 at Iowa State before he won a freestyle Olympic gold medal, and Zadick, a former Hawkeye and 2006 World silver medalist.
Sanderson, in fact, suffered one of his rare defeats in the first Dream Team event. He lost by injury default against Steve Niles of Charles City.
The meet returned to Cedar Rapids in 2001 with perhaps its greatest collection of talent. The Dream Team included five wrestlers who eventually combined to win eight Division I NCAA titles (Jake Rosholt, Steve Mocco, Shane Webster, Troy Letters and Ben Cherrington), along with All-Americans Nick Simmons, Cory Cooperman and Alex Tirapelle, Greco-Roman star Harry Lester and Marcus LeVesseur, who went 155-0 for Division III Augsburg.
Perry, an NCAA champion for Iowa this year, led the 2003 Dream Team to its most lopsided win ever. The USA squad that also included NCAA champion Jake Herbert and three-time All-American Eric Tannenbaum whipped the Iowa Elite team 60-0 in Cedar Rapids.
“It’s awesome for Team USA guys,” Perry said. “It’s a lot of fun. You get to hang out and work out with the best kids in the country. That’s a good opportunity for kids who don’t get to compete outside their state to have a chance to work out with the other kids who are the top kids in the country. …
“On those trips, I’ve made a lot of close friends that I still keep in touch with. Pretty much every one of those guys, every time I run into them at a tournament or a dual, we talk and see how everything’s going. That’s probably the coolest thing — to meet new guys, become friends and stay in college. Quite a few of them are doing pretty well.”