Sammy Brooks has bloodlines made for TV, and a wrestling style to match.
The sophomore has been one of the most exciting wrestlers for No. 1-ranked Iowa, and he'll return to his native Chicago area for the 52nd Midlands Championships. The two-day event begins Monday in Evanston, Ill.
"It's cool to come back," Brooks said. "I haven't won it yet. But that's part of the plan."
Officially from Oak Park, Ill., Brooks finished eighth wrestling unattached as a freshman. He placed sixth as a redshirt freshman.
Now a sophomore, Brooks has taken his game to a new level. He's 9-0 this season and is entrenched as Iowa's guy at 184 pounds.
MIDLANDS CHAMPIONSHIPS: Go time for top-ranked Iowa wrestlers
Coach Tom Brands has noticed that Brooks has become a bit of a fan favorite with his attacking style. None of Brooks' matches have resulted in anything less than a major decision.
When he's introduced at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, the crowd goes wild.
"The goal is to get fans cheering and make your matches as exciting as possible," Brooks said. "Not where it's a match that's flipping back and forth, but you're wailing on the guy, putting up a ton of points. That's exciting for me, and that's exciting for the fans."
Brooks grew up understanding the limelight. His dad, Charlie, is a TV producer for the CBS News affiliate (WBBM) in Chicago. His mom, Caryn, did the same for 25 years and is now a media professor at Northwestern — host of the Midlands.
"It's cool," Brooks said of the TV-station gigs. "Not really my thing, but they like it."
Brooks attended the Midlands Championships growing up. Now, he'll have by far his best chance yet at a first Midlands title.
He's ranked No. 12 nationally, but he's still new to the national scene and knows he has work to do to. His biggest self-criticism: Would you believe he'd like to pick up the pace? More attacking the legs, less hand-fighting, faster starts, more points.
The ultimate goal?
"NCAA champ, of course," he said, "in dominating fashion."
The coach of the top-ranked Hawkeyes is taking 17 wrestlers to the Dec. 29-30 tournament in Evanston, Ill.
THE 52ND MIDLANDS
When, where: Monday and Tuesday in Evanston, Ill.
The Hawkeyes: Iowa has 17 wrestlers in the lineup. Coach Tom Brands can choose 10 to count toward team scoring by 4 p.m. Monday.