The top-ranked Iowa wrestling team has more Ken Kraft Midlands Championships than other program in the nation.
The Hawkeyes will try to add to that number when they travel to Evanston, Illinois, to take part in the 49th edition of the popular tournament, which takes place Thursday and Friday on the campus of Northwestern University.
Iowa has won 21 team titles in the 49 years of the Midlands Championships. The next closest program is Iowa State, which has won eight team titles.
This season, the Hawkeyes will take several ranked wrestlers to the tournament with the hopes of claiming a 22nd team title.
Sophomores Tony Ramos and Derek St. John and senior Montell Marion all enter the tourney as top seeds. Ramos is undefeated with an 11-0 mark at 133, while Marion and St. John also are undefeated at 141 and 157, respectively. Marion is 10-0, while St. John is 11-0.
The Hawkeyes’ only No. 2 seed and No. 3 seed are junior Matt McDonough and sophomore Ethen Lofthouse.
McDonough is 10-1 at 125 this season will look to grab his second career Midlands title. He will be the No. 2 seed this season, but he holds a 13-3 record overall in the tournament. He won the title in 2009 and finished second last season.
Lofthouse will be the third seed at 174 as he enters the tournament with a record of 8-2.
Iowa — which is 6-0 in duals this season — also has one wrestler seeded fifth, another seeded seventh and two grapplers seeded eighth.
The No. 5 seed this season is redshirt freshman heavyweight Bobby Telford, who enters the two-day tournament with an unblemished mark of 10-0. Junior Grant Gambrall will be the No. 7 seed at 197. He is just 2-0 this season at that weight after claiming third last season at 184.
Iowa will have to ranked wrestlers in the heavyweight class as reigning Big Ten champion Blake Rasing was given the eighth seed for the tournament. Rasing is 8-2 this season.
Also earning a No. 8 seed is redshirt freshman Mike Evans at 165. Evans began the season 10-0 but will take a 10-1 record into Evanston.
The other two Hawkeye wrestlers that are listed as “other contenders” for the Midlands Championships include 133-pounder Tyler Clark (3-1) and 184-pounder Vinny Wagner (1-2).
The annual Midlands Championship will begin at 9:30 a.m. Thursday. The finals of the event will be shown on the Big Ten Network on Friday beginning at 9:30 p.m., which is around the time when the Iowa Hawkeyes football team will be kicking off the Insight Bowl in Arizona.
After this weekend’s tournament, Iowa will get back to dual action on Friday, Jan. 6, and Saturday, Jan. 7.
The top-ranked Hawkeyes will face Big Ten foe Indiana in Bloomington, Indiana, on Jan. 6 beginning at 6 p.m. The Jan. 7 dual will be against No. 2 Oklahoma State at 7 p.m.
The Hawkeyes have gone 83 straight duals without a loss but during that streak, Oklahoma State and Iowa wrestled to a tie to end the winning streak.