Iowa Wrestling Looks To Reclaim Past Glory With All-American Transfers

Written By T.J. McBride on June 30, 2023
The Iowa wrestling team has added two All-Americans from North Dakota State.

After falling short in the 2023 NCAA Wrestling Championship, the University of Iowa is determined to capture another title.

Iowa finished second in the 2023 championships. That result is motivating the team to continue finding ways to improve. In pursuit of a top team score, they have added two All-Americans from North Dakota State.

The Hawkeyes now have a solid chance to win the next NCAA Wrestling Championship.

Iowa uses transfer portal to strengthen wrestling team

While some states prohibit it, Iowa online sports betting allows wagering on in-state college teams. The law, however, prohibits betting on individual athletes. Bettors can only place wagers on team outcomes.

The Hawkeyes recently added both Jared Franek and Mikey Caliendo to their wrestling program. For bettors in Iowa and fans of the Iowa wrestling program, this is exciting news.

Franek is coming to Iowa from North Dakota State with one year of eligibility left. He has an overall record of 92-20 and is the reigning Big 12 champion for the 157-pound weight class. Franek finished fourth in the 2023 NCAA Championships.

Franek wrote on Instagram that this move to Iowa improves his chances to become a national champion.

“After giving NDSU everything I had for the last five years, I entered the transfer portal with the intention of putting myself in the best position possible to win a national title. With that being said, I have decided to spend my last year at the University of Iowa. Special thanks to my coaches, teammates and fans at NDSU for all the support over the years. Excited to get to work!”

Caliendo finished in seventh place in the 165-pound weight class at the NCAA Championships. That earned him All-American honors. Caliendo wrote on Instagram that he is also leaving NDSU to join Iowa.

“After a recent coaching change at NDSU I have decided to continue my wrestling career at the University of Iowa! GO HAWKS!!!! #gohawks.”

Will these new transfers push Iowa to the top?

For the past few years, Iowa has steadily climbed the ranks of the college wrestling world hoping to reclaim the top spot. Their two All-American additions might be the push they need.

In 2021, Iowa won its first NCAA Championship since 2010. They narrowly overcame Penn State to snatch the title.

In 2022, Iowa slipped and finished the NCAA Championships in third place with 74 points. That placed Iowa 57.5 points behind the championship-winning Penn State team.

In 2023, Iowa improved to second place with 82.5 team points but still was behind by a sizable 55 points. Once again, Penn State took home the championship with 137.5 points.

Now, with two more All-Americans on their team, Iowa will try to dethrone the Nittany Lions.

Can bettors in Iowa wager on the improved Iowa wrestling program?

Finding odds to wager on college wrestling is not easy, even in the wrestling-obsessed state of Iowa.

In the past, Circa Sports has provided odds on college wrestling for bettors in Iowa. Those odds were set partly by Mike Palm, vice president of operations for Circa.

“Obviously, there’s a market there in Iowa, I understand that. I grew up in the Dan Gable era when they were winning every national championship. I explained to some of our guys in the risk room here … I said, ‘You know, Iowans are more passionate about wrestling than football even, if you can imagine that.’ Yeah, I certainly think we want to develop that market as we move forward.”

When PlayIA spoke to Circa Sports SEO Derek Stevens, he reiterated that Circa has a strong focus on the Iowa market.

“We’ve had such a great initial welcome. We hope our product and our service is embraced by Iowans. And we believe that’s what’s going to happen.”

Check back soon for any future odds on NCAA wrestling.

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T.J. McBride

T.J. McBride is a Denver-based NBA and Denver Nuggets reporter and a regular contributor to regularly at He brings his in-depth sports and sports betting knowledge to his coverage of the legal gambling industry across regional sites at Catena Media.

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