All-Time Greatest Midlands Wrestlers 2nd Round

With the 50th Midlands less than four weeks away, we wanted to find out who you thought was the best wrestler in Midlands history. For that reason, we'd like to introduce the "Midlands All-Time Greatest Bracket Challenge".

With 49 years of Midlands we had to get the list of wrestlers down to a manageable number. So we have a list of 32 wrestlers who qualified for the tournament. In order to qualify you had to meet at least one of the following criteria:

-Won 4 or more Midlands Championships OR
-Won 3 or more Midlands Championships and a "Ken Kraft Champion of Champions" Award OR
-Won 2 or more Midlands Championships and a "Triple Crown" (Midlands + 2 Of NCAAs, Worlds and Olympics)
-Won 1 or more Midlands Championships and a "Grand Slam"
(Midlands + NCAAs, Worlds and Olympics)

Those criteria yielded 32 wrestlers. Next, we split them into four groups of eight by weight. Those groups are small, medium, large and XL. This was somewhat difficult and there are some variations within the weights. Finally, we put them into a bracket divided into four sections (S, M, L and XL).

Now its up to you. The first round is over and the second round matchups are below. Voting will be open until December 17th. Then we will tabulate the results and start round three.

Decide who you think was the better wrestler (not necessarily who would win head-to-head, but who was the better wrestler) and make your choice. In the end, we will have the ultimate Midlands Champion!

And remember, tickets are on sale NOW for the 50th Ken Kraft Midlands Championships, hosted by Northwestern on December 29th and 30th. To order tickets call 888-GO-PURPLE.

* 1. Small Weight Class 2nd Round:
Tom Brands (Iowa, 1 Midlands Championship) vs. Mark Ironside (Iowa, 4 Midlands Championships)

Tom Brands:
Brands won the 1996 Olympic freestyle gold medal at 136.5 pounds in Atlanta, GA. He also won a gold medal at the 1993 World Freestyle Championships in Toronto, two World Cup gold medals (1994, 1995) and was the 1995 Pan American Games champion. He won four U.S. National titles (1993-96) and made four straight U.S. World or Olympic teams (1993-96). Tom was named 1993 USA Wrestling Athlete of the Year, the 1993 John Smith Outstanding Freestyle Wrestler and 1993 Amateur Wrestling News Man of the Year. He was inducted into wrestling's Hall of Fame in 2001. Brands was a four-time All-American at Iowa (1989-92). During his career at Iowa, he won three NCAA titles and was named Outstanding Wrestler of the 1992 NCAA Championships. He was also a three-time Big Ten champion.

Mark Ironside:
Ironside was the Big Ten champion at 134 pounds as a red-shirt freshman while placing sixth in the nation with a 27-8 record. The following year (1996) he defended his Big Ten title and placed third in the nation with a 35-2 record. As a junior Ironside was the national title holder at 134 pounds with a 30-0 record. His senior year Ironside wrestled at 141 pounds and won his fourth Big Ten title and second NCAA title with a 35-0 record. He received the Dan Hodge Award (considered the Heisman Trophy of wrestling) his senior year. Ironside was 127-10 in college and ended his collegiate career with a 67-match winning streak that spanned three seasons.

* 2. Small Weight Class 2nd Round:
Terry Brands (Iowa, 2 Midlands Championships) vs. Randy Lewis (Iowa, 3 Midlands Championships)

Terry Brands:
Brands won gold medals in 1993 in Toronto, Canada, and in 1995 in Atlanta, GA, at 125.5 pounds (57 kg). As a member of the 1993 and 1995 U.S. World Teams, he was on the only two U.S. teams to win World Team Titles in freestyle. In 1993, he won his world title and was named 1993 USA Wrestling Athlete of the Year, 1993 John Smith Freestyle Wrestler of the Year and 1993 Amateur Wrestling News Man of the Year. Brands qualified for the 1997 and 1999 U.S. World Teams, and in 2000, he made a comeback and won the U.S. Olympic Team Trials at 127.75 pounds (58 kg). He earned a bronze medal at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. A two-time World Cup champion (1994, 1995), Brands won a gold medal at the 1995 Pan American Games. He was a two-time silver medalist at the respected Yarygin Tournament in Krasnoyarsk, Russia. Brands won three U.S. Nationals titles, and was runner-up three times. He was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2006. Brands was a two-time NCAA champion, three-time All-American and three-time Big Ten champion for the Hawkeyes (1989-92) at 126 pounds.

Randy Lewis:
Lewis reached the NCAA finals at 126 pounds as a freshman. The following two years, he proceeded to claim NCAA championships and put together a 74-match winning streak. During his senior year, placed as an All-American for the fourth time. Overall, he compiled a record of 127-11-1 with 64 pins and two national championships. Lewis qualified for the boycotted 1980 Olympics, but returned to the U.S. Olympic team in 1984. Lewis outscored his first four Olympic opponents, 52-4, to reach the gold medal match against Kosei Akaishi of Japan where he won to claim a gold medal for the United States.

* 3. Medium Weight Class 2nd Round:
Dan Gable (Iowa State, 6 Midlands Championships) vs. Lee Kemp (Wisconsin, 3 Midlands Championships)

Dan Gable:
Gable was 118-1 at Iowa State. His only defeat came in the NCAA finals his senior year. Gable was a three-time all-American and three-time Big Eight champion. He set NCAA records in winning and pin streaks. After college, Gable added titles at the 1971 Pan American Games, the 1972 Tbilisi Tournament and the 1971 World Championships. He won an unprecedented six Midlands Open championships and was that meet’s outstanding wrestler five times. In 1972, in Munich, Germany, he won a gold medal at the Summer Olympics without surrendering a point to any of his opponents. In Gable’s final 21 Olympic qualification and Olympic matches, he scored 12 falls and outscored his nine other opponents, 130-1. The single point was scored by Larry Owings, who defeated Gable in his final collegiate match.

Lee Kemp:
Kemp won three NCAA titles at 158 pounds for the University of Wisconsin, and placed 2nd as a true freshman losing on a split referee’s decision in overtime. After his freshman year Lee Kemp didn’t lose another collegiate bout posting 108 victories and one draw against collegiate competition. Kemp was also a three-time Gold Medalist in the World Championships, a four-time Gold Medalist in the World Cup of Wrestling, a two-time Gold Medalist in the Pan American Games, a seven-time national champion, and was named the United States Wrestling Federation “Man of the Year” in 1978. He was inducted to the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1989.

* 4. Medium Weight Class 2nd Round:
Dave Schultz (1 Midlands Championship, Oklahoma) vs. Kenny Monday (2 Midlands Championships, Oklahoma State)

Dave Schultz:
In college, Schultz was an NCAA All-American three times. After college, he won 10 Senior National titles over a 19 year period. He won the Pan American Games title twice, the World Cup four times, and the Tbilisi, Georgia tournament twice. Schultz also went on to win the 1983 World Championships and 1984 Olympic gold medal.

Kenny Monday:
At OSU, Monday compiled a record of 121 victories, twelve losses, and two draws. He was a three-time All-American who captured two Big Eight Conference crowns, finished second at the NCAA championships in 1982 and 1983, and won the NCAA tournament as a senior in 1984. He was a three-time Olympian and the first African American to win an Olympic gold medal in freestyle wrestling. A four-time U.S. Nationals Champion, Monday won major international tournaments in Russia, Turkey, France, and Bulgaria, the World Championships (1989), and the Pan American Games (1991). In 1988 he won an Olympic gold medal at Seoul, South Korea, while placing second at the 1992 Olympics at Barcelona, Spain, and finishing sixth at the Atlanta Games in 1996. Kenny Monday was named Athlete of the Year by USA Wrestling in 1988, and Man of the Year by the Amateur Wrestling News in 1989.

* 5. Large Weight Class 2nd Round
Cael Sanderson (4 Championships, Iowa State) vs. Ed Banach (3 Championships, Iowa)

Cael Sanderson:
Sanderson attended Iowa State University, where he became a Four-time NCAA champion from 1999 to 2002. He completed his entire college career undefeated, with a 159-0 record, including being named four-time NWCA All-Star champion and four-time Big 12 champion. In addition, Sanderson was a three-time Dan Hodge Award winner. Sanderson was also the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team Trials champion, as well as the World Team Trials champion and U.S. Nationals champion from 2001 to 2003. In 2000, Sanderson was the South Olympic Regional Trials champion and in 2004 won the Olympic gold medal in Greece.

Ed Banach:
Nicknamed “The Horse,” Banach won national championships as a freshman and sophomore in 1980 and 1981. In his junior season in 1982, he lost in the national championship match to Mark Schultz of Oklahoma State. Banach came back to win the 1983 NCAA championship match, to claim his third NCAA championship. Banach left school as Iowa’s first three-time national champion with a career record of 141-9-1. He also recorded 73 pins, and in 1983 became the first Hawkeye to win the Big Ten Athlete of the Year Award. In the 1984 olympics, Banach made it to the gold medal match, where he defeated Akira Ohta of Japan 15-3 to win the gold.

* 6. Large Weight Class 2nd Round:
Joe Williams (10 Midlands Championships, Iowa) vs. Chris Campbell (3 Midlands Championships, Iowa)

Joe Williams:
Williams was a 3-time NCAA Champion for the University Of Iowa, where he ended his collegiate career with a record of 129-9 and 2 Big Ten Championships as a Hawkeye. On a larger scale, Williams has earned honors as a 6-time U.S. National Championion, 5-time World Team Member, 4-time World Cup Champion, 2-time World bronze medalist, and represented the United States as a 2004 Olympic Team Member in Athens, Greece.

Chris Campbell:
Campbell, a walk on in college, went on to post a record of 122-7-2 over four seasons. He defeated Mark Johnson of Michigan 4-3 in the 1976 NCAA finals and then beat Johnson again, 9-5, for the 1977 NCAA title. He went on to win the 1981 World Championship, placed second at the 1990 World Championship, and placed second at the 1991 Pan-American Games.

* 7. XL Weight Class 2nd Round:
Bruce Baumgardner (8 Midlands Championships, Indiana State) vs. Bill Scherr (3 Midlands Championships, Nebraska)

Bruce Baumgardner:
Baumgartner wrestled at Indiana State University where he finished as the heavyweight runner-up at Nationals as a sophomore and junior, but won the national championship as a senior, completing a perfect campaign in which he went 44-0. He finished his collegiate career with a 134-12 record with 73 falls. In 1980, he was the National Freestyle champion, which he would follow up with the championship at the World University Games in Romania in 1982. In 1983, he won silver medals in the World Cup Championships and Pan-American Games, along with a bronze medal in the World Championships in Kiev, USSR. Baumgartner would capture his first gold medal in Los Angeles in the 1984 Olympic Games, and four years later he would add a second Olympic medal, winning the silver medal at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea. In 1992 Baumgartner became the first American wrestler to ever medal in three consecutive Olympics when he brought home the gold medal for the second time while competing in Barcelona, Spain. He would add gold medals in the Pan-American Games in 1991 in Cuba and in 1995 in Argentina, along with World Championships in 1993 and 1995, and a bronze medal in the Goodwill Games held in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1994. Baumgartner capped his career by winning the bronze medal at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.

Bill Scherr:
Bill Scherr graduated from the University of Nebraska in 1984 where he was a three-time All-American and 1984 NCAA National Champion. Scherr’s success continued with Six USA Senior Freestyle National Champion in 1982, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, and 1992. Scherr didn’t stop there, as he was crowned the 1985 World Champion and becoming a five-time World Medalist. Scherr also won the 1988 Pan American Games, and won the Olympic Bronze Medal in 1988. Additionally, Scherr was a Gold Medalist in the 1990 Goodwill Games and was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1998.

* 8. XL Weight Class 2nd Round:
Ben Peterson (6 Midlands Championships, Iowa State) vs. Steve Neal (4 Midlands Championships, Cal St. Bakersfield)

Ben Peterson:
Ben Peterson attended Iowa State, where he was the 1971 and 1972 NCAA champion. On the 1972 Olympic team, Peterson sweept the field to win the gold medal. Before the next Olympics, Peterson won two AAU titles and finished third at the 1973 World Championships. He managed another win at the 1975 Pan-American Games, before winning the silver medal at the 1976 Olympics. After the 1976 Olympics, Peterson won two more AAU championships and he was also selected to the 1980 Olympic team.

Steve Neal:
Steve Neal attended California State University, where he compiled a 151–10 record with four All-American seasons. He placed fourth in NCAA Division I as a freshman and second as a sophomore before winning titles his junior and senior year. His final title came in 1999, when he defeated Brock Lesnar. In 1999, Neal also won the Dan Hodge Award after winning the U.S. Freestyle Championship, the Pan-American Games title and the World Championship. Neal set Pac-10 Conference records by finishing 34–0 in conference competition, while becoming the conference's first four-time winner in the same weight class, and second four-time winner ever. In 1999, he won the FILA outstanding wrestler award, an honor given to the best wrestler in the world.