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Iowa wrestling leads nation in attendance for 14th-straight season


Cody Goodwin   | Hawk Central
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The National Wrestling Media Association released the top attendance figures for the 2019-20 season, and — surprise, surprise — people in Iowa love to watch wrestling.

All three of Iowa's Division I wrestling programs ranked in the top-13 nationally in attendance in 2019-20. Iowa ranked first, again, while the Cyclones ranked third and Northern Iowa ranked 13th. 

The Hawkeyes led the nation for the 14th-straight season, all during head coach Tom Brands' tenure. Iowa brought in 87,979 total fans to seven home meets, good for an average of 12,568.4 — almost 5,000 ahead of second-place Penn State.

Iowa managed at least 10,000 fans at every home meet this year, something no wrestling program has ever done. The Hawkeyes' largest attendance was 14,905, when they defeated the Nittany Lions, 19-17, at a sold-out Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Penn State had the largest single wrestling crowd of the season, hosting 15,995 at the Bryce Jordan Center in February when they beat Ohio State.

The Cyclones came in third with an average of 4,794.6 fans per home dual. Iowa State had 33,562 total fans for seven home duals, and peaked at 11,238 against the Hawkeyes in November.

Northern Iowa averaged 2,167 fans for six home duals, bolstered mostly by the 4,006 that watched the Panthers defeat Oklahoma State at the McLeod Center in January. West Gym, the Panthers' usual home venue, only holds 2,100.

Behind Iowa State, Rutgers and Ohio State rounded out the top five, while Oklahoma State, Minnesota, Arizona State, Fresno State and Lehigh went 6-10. Virginia Tech and Nebraska finished 11th and 12th, respectively, ahead of Northern Iowa.

NCAA Division I wrestling attendance figures have been tracked since 2002, first by Denny Diehl of Roby Publishing, then with the help of The Open Mat's Alex Steen and Jason Bryant of Mat Talk Online. 

Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.

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Division I Wrestling Attendance Leaders

  1. Iowa, 12,568.4 average
  2. Penn State, 7,604.1
  3. Iowa State, 4,794.6
  4. Rutgers, 4,155.9
  5. Ohio State, 4,117.5