Iowa wrestling leads nation in home attendance for 13th straight season

Cody Goodwin
Hawk Central

Even during a year where the Iowa wrestling program’s home schedule didn’t feature too many high-profile teams, the fans still filled up Carver-Hawkeye Arena in support.

The Hawkeyes led all Division I wrestling programs in home attendance, averaging 8,526 fans over seven home meets, according to data compiled by Alex Steen and Jason Bryant of Mat Talk Online. It marks the 13th straight season Iowa has led the country in home attendance.

Iowa’s 2018-19 schedule, on the whole, wasn’t loaded with many of college wrestling’s super programs. Of the seven home meets, only one featured an opponent that finished in the top 10 at the 2019 NCAA Championships: Rutgers, a contest the Hawkeyes won, 30-6.

Fans wave glow-sticks before a NCAA Big Ten Conference wrestling dual on Friday, Jan. 18, 2019, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa.

Behind Iowa, Penn State finished second, averaging 7,889 over seven home meets. Ohio State (5,817 in six home meets), Rutgers (5,038 in eight) and Oklahoma State (4,216 in seven) round out the top five.

Iowa State was sixth, with an average of 3,570 over seven home meets. Northern Iowa finished 16th, averaging 1,662 in five home meets. In all, a record 24 programs averaged at least 1,000 fans per home dual.

The Hawkeyes were part of the second-largest dual crowd of the 2018-19 season when they traveled down to Stillwater, Oklahoma, to wrestle Oklahoma State in February. An announced crowd of 13,811 packed Gallagher-Iba Arena that day.

The Iowa-Oklahoma State dual was one of three that saw a crowd of more than 13,000-plus. The largest (15,703) came when Penn State hosted Michigan at the Bryce Jordan Center. The third: the Ohio State-Penn State dual in Columbus, which featured an announced crowd of 13,276.

Steen and Bryant, two longtime members of the wrestling media, collaborated in an effort to continue a project first started by Denny Diehl of the Lehigh University Wrestling Newsletter during the 2001-02 season.

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

Division I Wrestling Attendance Leaders

Rank, Team, Home Meets, Total Attendance, Average

1. Iowa, 7, 59,684; 8,526.3

2. Penn State, 7, 55,222; 7,888.9

3. Ohio State, 6, 34,900; 5,816.7

4. Rutgers, 8, 40,306; 5,038.3

5. Oklahoma State, 7, 29,513; 4,216.1

6. Iowa State, 7, 24,988; 3,569.7

16. Northern Iowa, 5, 8,309; 1,661.8