Iowa wrestling coach Tom Brands talks about former Hawkeye great Brandon Sorensen, who's battling cancer. Hawk Central
IOWA CITY, Ia. — Brandon Sorensen recorded 127 career victories and was a four-time All-American for the Iowa wrestling program from 2014-18. But the biggest bout of his life began Tuesday.
The program announced that Sorensen has been diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow that affects white blood cells. He started treatment Tuesday and is being treated at the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics.
"I am prepared to beat this disease, and there is no wait," Sorensen said in a statement. "The challenge is right in front of me, and I am all-in. I know I am not alone in this fight.
"I have the very best doctors, resources and family you could possibly hope for, and I know that we will beat this cancer together. There is no choice. We will move forward with success."
A native of Cedar Falls and a product of Denver High School, Sorensen was a four-time Iowa state champion before joining the Hawkeyes. He posted a career high-school record of 208-3. He's one of just 27 four-timers in state history, and one of just 20 wrestlers to win 200-plus matches.
Sorensen wrestled his entire Iowa career at 149 pounds. He placed fourth at the NCAA Championships in 2015, reached the finals in 2016, took third in 2017 and fifth in 2018. He is one of just 20 four-time All-Americans in program history.
"The character of our team is rallying behind Sorensen," Iowa wrestling coach Tom Brands said Tuesday. "The Sorensen family is seeing that and feeling it. Sometimes, you get dealt bad hands.
Iowa true freshman Spencer Lee discusses what he's learned from Brandon Sorensen this season. Des Moines Register
"Brandon Sorensen has been a top-rated soldier for this program. He always marched the right way. That's what we love the most about him, and still love. He's still part of our program.
"In five years of coaching him, I had zero drama, zero trouble, zero discipline issues."
Since graduating, Sorensen has been a member of the Hawkeye Wrestling Club. A GoFundMe page has been created in Brandon's name to provide financial support to cover his medical expenses.
"Sorensen is a private guy," Brands continued. "This is a big deal for him, and I won't speak for him too much, but the one thing I will say is he enjoys people fighting for him, but he also enjoys his privacy. To him, it's almost like, 'Hey, I appreciate everything, but don't trouble yourselves.'
"Well, we're going to trouble ourselves. We're going to go out of our way in any way we can … bad things happen to good people all the time. This is a real-life example of that."
Iowa senior Brandon Sorensen reflects on his career after finishing fifth at 149 pounds at the NCAA tournament.
The news of Sorensen's diagnosis was felt across the entire wrestling community, both in Iowa and beyond.
"On behalf of the Iowa State wrestling team and staff, our thoughts and prayers go out to Brandon Sorensen and the news we just heard from Iowa City," Iowa State coach Kevin Dresser said Tuesday in Ames. "Sounds like he's got a tough fight on his hands.
"But the one thing I'll always remember about Brandon Sorensen, just from sitting in the opposite corner, is what a tough kid he is, and what a great kid he is. In wrestling, we're getting to go compete in a national-level event. We all want to fight, but he's got a fight on his hands.
"We just wanted to say, from Ames to Iowa City, that we're thinking about him. We know he's got a good support network, and we wish him the best. He'll win. He always figured out how to win."
Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.
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