Flowrestling’s ‘Who’s Number One’ showcase event coming to Carver-Hawkeye Arena

Cody Goodwin
Hawk Central

Carver-Hawkeye Arena opened its doors on Jan. 3, 1983. That night, the Iowa wrestling team hosted Oklahoma State. Tim Riley recorded an 18-2 technical fall at 118 pounds, and the Hawkeyes won, 35-7.

Since then, many of the nation’s premier wrestling tournaments have come to Carver. The Big Ten Championships have cycled through many times. The NCAA Championships and Olympic Trials have also landed in Iowa City. Last year, the UWW World Cup attracted thousands of wrestling fans from around the globe.

Now, this fall, one of the country’s top high school competitions will be hosted on Carver’s floor. Flowrestling announced Saturday that it’s bringing its showcase event “Who’s Number One” to Iowa City on Saturday, Oct. 5.

“I talked to (Iowa wrestling coach) Tom Brands about it — just, you know, Who’s Number One in Iowa,” Willie Saylor, a writer, editor and ranker at Flowrestling who organized this event, said in the announcement. “He’s like, ‘Well, why wouldn’t you have it here?’ Good question, coach.

“He’s like, ‘You should have it at Carver. It’ll be great, with a great atmosphere.’ That’s all I really needed to hear.”

Iowa's Spencer Lee is introduced during a NCAA Cy-Hawk series wrestling dual on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City.

“Who’s Number One” is a dual-style competition featuring the country’s best high school wrestlers. The winners at each weight will earn Flowrestling’s No. 1 ranking to begin the 2019-20 season.

Since its inception six years ago, Lehigh’s Grace Hall, nicknamed “The Snake Pit,” hosted “Who’s Number One,” but Carver’s sterling track record for wrestling attendance numbers and the state’s overall passion for the sport is what drew Flowrestling to make a change.

The Iowa wrestling program has led the nation in attendance for 13 straight years. What’s more, the 2012 Olympic Trials shattered attendance records when it came to Carver, as 54,766 attended the event over two days and four sessions. When the UWW Men’s Freestyle World Cup came last year, 12,766 came over the two-day event.

“I thought it was time to do something new, something fresh, and move it around,” Saylor said. “Maybe we’ll move it around often. Who knows.”

To add to it, this year’s event will feature a handful of Hawkeye recruits.

Two competitors are part of Iowa’s 2020 recruiting haul: Arizona prep Jesse Ybarra and Minnesota’s Patrick Kennedy. Ybarra will wrestle Nebraska’s Jakason Burks, an Oklahoma State commit, at 120 pounds. Kennedy will wrestle Michigan’s Alex Facundo, a two-time Cadet world bronze medalist, at 170.

The third is Minnesota’s Ryan Sokol, a 2019 Cadet world-teamer who will wrestle Pennsylvania’s Beau Bartlett, a Penn State recruit, at 138. Sokol is a 2021 recruit.

“To have a big crowd, a raucous atmosphere, and to wrestle in front of fans who truly understand wrestling and appreciate high-level wrestling, that’s the objective,” Saylor said. “Tom Brands said, ‘We’re going to show out,’ and that’s what I want for the kids.”

You can buy tickets to the event here.

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

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Who's Number One's lineup:

  • 132-lbs Prelim: Jesse Mendez (IN) vs. Ryan Jack (CT)
  • 132-lbs Prelim: Dom Serrano (CO) vs. Shayne Van Ness (NJ)
  • 120-lbs: Jesse Ybarra (AZ) vs. Jakason Burks (NE)
  • 113-lbs: Richard Figueroa (CA) vs. Stevo Poulin (NY)
  • 145-lbs: Victor Voinovich (OH) vs. Jesse Vasquez (CA)
  • 65-kg: Josh Saunders (MO) vs. Anthony Echemendia (AZ)
  • 152-lbs: Sonny Santiago (CA) vs. Travis Mastrogiovanni (NJ)
  • 160-lbs: Paddy Gallagher (OH) vs. Keegan O'Toole (WI)
  • 182-lbs: Dustin Plott (OK) vs. Rocky Elam (MO)
  • 126-lbs: Robbie Howard (NJ) vs. Trevor Mastrogiovanni (NJ)
  • 138-lbs: Beau Bartlett (PA) vs. Ryan Sokol (MN)
  • 170-lbs: Alex Facundo (MI) vs. Patrick Kennedy (MN)
  • 132-lbs Final: Winner of Mendez/Jack vs. Serrano/Van Ness