Iowa wrestling leads the nation in fan attendance again, sets new national record

Cody Goodwin
Hawk Central

The Iowa wrestling program led the nation in wrestling fan attendance again during the 2021-22 season. That's not the surprising part, as the Hawkeyes have led the nation in home fan attendance every year since 2007.

The surprising part, or perhaps more impressive, is that Iowa set a new record for average home attendance, according to figures tracked by the National Wrestling Media Association.

The Hawkeyes sold out all six home duals during the 2021-22 season, good for an average of 14,905. That was far and away the highest average in the country.

Iowa wrestler Tony Cassioppi high-fives a fan while walking out before an wrestling dual against Penn State on Jan. 28, 2022, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa.

Penn State was second, averaging 7,776 fans over seven home duals. Oklahoma State was third, averaging 4,631 fans over eight home duals. Iowa State was fourth, averaging 3,961.6 fans over seven home duals at Hilton Coliseum. Northern Iowa was 14th, averaging 1,624.8 fans over five duals between the West Gym and McLeod Center.

Iowa drew in 89,430 total fans during the 2021-22 season, the second-highest total since the NWMA began tracking attendance figures in 2002. Those numbers are based solely on home dual meets — single duals, double duals, tri-meets or quad-meets.

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The Hawkeyes hold the record for the highest total fan attendance in a single season. In 2015-16, they hosted 97,325, a total bolstered by the Grapple on the Gridiron, when 42,287 watched Iowa beat Oklahoma State 18-16 at Kinnick Stadium.

On the road, Iowa continually drew in fans. The Hawkeyes were the highest road draw for five different schools during the 2021-22 season: Iowa State (9,272); Ohio State (4,400); Nebraska (3,170); Illinois (1,051) and Northwestern (1,126).

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In addition to leading the nation in attendance every year since 2007, the Hawkeyes have now led the nation in attendance 19 times in the past 20 years that the NWMA has tracked fan attendance.

Attendance wasn’t tracked during the 2020-21 season due to most venues having no-spectator policies because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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