Woods named Iowa’s Most Valuable Wrestler

IOWA CITY — Senior 141-pounder Real Woods was named the recipient of the Mike Howard Most Valuable Wrestler Award on Friday night at the University of Iowa wrestling team’s annual awards banquet at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Woods was the runner-up at the 2023 NCAA Championships last weekend in Tulsa, Okla. He earned his third career All-America honor and reached the finals to extend Iowa’s streak of consecutive NCAA finals appearances to 33 straight national tournaments.

The Albuquerque, N.M., native finished his first season as a Hawkeye with a 20-1 record with 12 bonus-point wins. Woods tied for the team lead with six major decisions, and he won 12 matches against ranked opponents on the year.

Woods was one of six Hawkeyes presented All-America awards. Spencer Lee and Jacob Warner earned their fifth career All-America honor, Tony Cassioppi became a four-time All-American, Max Murin earned his second All-America distinction and Nelson Brands reached the podium for the first time.

Cassioppi finished fourth at the NCAA Championships at 285, Nelson Brands (174) and Warner (197) were fifth and Murin (149) and Lee (125) both finished sixth. Lee and Warner are the second and third five-time All-Americans in program history, while Cassioppi is the 25th four-timer.

Cassioppi earned the Most Pins Award, as he finished his senior season with 11 falls — the most by a Hawkeye since Thomas Gilman’s 11 in 2017. The Illinois native tied for the team lead with 25 wins with 16 bonus-point victories.

Murin and Warner — both sixth-year seniors — shared the Mike J. McGivern Award, presented to the most courageous wrestler, and Murin was the recipient of the John and Dorothy Sill Award, presented to the most dedicated wrestler.

Warner was the recipient of the J. Donald McPike, Sr., Award for having the highest grade-point average by a graduating senior.

Nelson Brands was the recipient of the Most Improved Award. Brands earned the first All-America honor of his career, finishing fifth at 174 pounds.

Three Hawkeyes — Lee, Cassioppi and freshman Drake Rhodes — were presented Coaches Appreciation Awards.


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