In a historic meet, the Iowa Hawkeyes wrestling team recently beat top-ranked Oklahoma State 18-16. The meet was the first wrestling match held in a division I football stadium, and shattered the NCAA attendance record by having 42,287 fans in attendance.
The previous mark of 15,996 was set by Penn State in 2013. The Iowa crowd is believed to be the largest ever to witness a wrestling match in the U.S.
U.S. News & World Report says that the idea of hosting a wrestling match at Kinnick Stadium had been around for nearly a decade. But when Penn State broke Iowa's single-match attendance record, Tom Brands, Iowa’s wrestling coach, pushed the idea.
The event featured a special mat marked with football yardage lines, which was placed in the south end zone. The crowd filled the seats from the end zone to the opposing 20-yard line. The event was also livestreamed on the stadiums scoreboards so that many of the fans could see it live.
Before the game day some raised concerns about possible adverse weather conditions. These concerns were unfounded, as temperatures were in the low 50s. Athletes competing in the event said they were impressed by the atmosphere.
Special rooms at Kinnick had been set aside for wrestlers to keep warm. There were also contingency plans to move the match to 15,000-seat Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Iowa's home gym, if the weather turned sour.
Brands said that he hoped the event would resonate internationally, and garner support for the sport.