There's a dark, acrid room on the University of Iowa campus in Iowa City. Few people ever visit the room and the ones who do know just how blessed they are.
It's considered just as hallowed ground as ice in Detroit, green grass in the Bronx or frozen tundra in Wisconsin.
Iowa celebrates the 2008 NCAA wrestling national championship in St. Louis.
It's where champions are created.
It's where the meanest, fastest, hungriest, strongest and best wrestlers in the country are molded from 18- to 22-year-old boys into men who wear black and gold even more proudly than the black and blue they give each other.
Where cauliflower ears are like stripes on a uniform. Where sweat is the price of admission and blood a badge of honor.
The University of Iowa wrestling room is a room that has hosted more individual national champions than any other wrestling room in the country and where more national champion teams have practiced than any other school.
The room may as well be named Dominion because that's what Iowa Hawkeye wrestlers do: Dominate. They don't win, they don't compete, they Dominate.
It's what Dan Gable and Tom Brands demand and nothing less than perfection, complete and utter commitment to being a national champion. That's what is required of Iowa Hawkeye wrestlers.
The rest of the country may be focused on the NFL or NHL or that thing called the World Series, but Iowa Hawkeye wrestlers know that TitleTown USA begins and ends in a dark, acrid room in Iowa City, Iowa.
Hawkeye wrestling has been THE program in college wrestling since 1975, when they rattled off their first of 21 national championships in 35 years.
Between 1978 and 1986, the NCAA saw one team with a national championship: IOWA, NINE IN A ROW. They also won eight of the 10 national championships in the '90s. That is unheard of.
Sure, they have taken a step back since that time, but the rebirth of the program has already occurred, with the national title finding its way back to Iowa City in 2008. The program is back to being reckoned with on a yearly basis.
With this history, I find it hard to believe that they shouldn't be considered a "title town". The only college program that could match this is possibly UCLA in basketball. No other college sport stands a chance.
And just as a side note, I'm not even a wrestling fan. I don't like watching the sport. But this team and city deserve mentioning.
You want to talk about TitleTown USA? How about Dan Gable and the Iowa Hawkeye wrestling team that has dominated the sport and continues to dominate.
Most people would not think of Iowa City when they talk about TitleTown. Wrestling may not be as mainstream as basketball and football, but we can stand up to anyone when it comes to pure dominance of a sport over the last 30 plus years.
Here is a history of Iowa's latest NCAA tournament championships: 1975, 1976, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2008.
Can any other major sports program claim this amount of success? That's 21 titles since 1975 in case anyone is counting.
If Green Bay is TitleTown for football, it is impossible to exclude Iowa City, Iowa, for wrestling. The University of Iowa has been an unstoppable force in the sport for the past three decades.
In a state that has less then 4 million people and zero major sports teams, college wrestling is in the spotlight every winter. The Iowa-Iowa State rivalry becomes bigger than Michigan-OSU in football or Yankees-Red Sox in baseball.
Almost every year, both schools are ranked in the Top 5 when they face each other, if not 1-2. The Hawkeyes tend to dominate that as well.
What other wrestling meet in the country, including the national championships, attracts over 15,000 screaming fans? The answer: not very many.
Wrestling is the way of life in this small college town, which nearly doubles in population when school is in session.
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