IOWA CITY — Mark Perry was looking for the next challenge in wrestling. He is returning to his roots do do just that.
Perry last month accepted the position as head coach of the Hawkeye Wrestling Club, and now has big plans to take the club, and the Iowa wrestling team, back to the top of the world.
Perry is ready to announce a major corporate sponsor for the Hawkeye Wrestling Club, as well as the addition of a well-known international star.
It is the start of what Perry hopes is a plan to make the Hawkeye Wrestling Club the elite club in the world and take the Iowa wrestling program back to the top of the college ranks, as well.
“The experience I had at Iowa was very special and my passion for the sport of wrestling is second to none. I just felt like this was the right direction to go at this time,” said Perry, who was a two-time national champion for Iowa in 2007 and 2008 and spent the last six seasons as the associate head coach at Illinois. “This is huge. This shows the growth as a whole for the sport of wrestling. If we do it the right way and we are patient, the level of wrestling here at Iowa will be higher than anywhere. We are looking to attract as many elite wrestlers as we can, and that in turn will bring the best young wrestlers into the Iowa program. The next phase of Tom Brands’ career at Iowa is going to be absolutely amazing.”
Perry, who also spent time coaching at Penn State and Cal Poly before landing on Jim Hefernan’s staff at Illinois, will work with freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestlers in the Hawkeye Wrestling Club, which recently added former Iowa All-Americans Thomas Gilman, Cory Clark, Alex Meyer and Sam Brooks to its stable. Perry promises to bring even more big names to Iowa City to train for international competition. That, in turn, will attract more of the nation’s top wrestlers to Iowa, which is planning a new state-of-the-art wrestling facility on the west end of the campus. It is all in an effort to keep up with the top wrestling programs in the country, which are starting to catch and surpass Iowa.
“Penn State and Ohio State had upgraded their facilities for their regional training centers. Seeing those programs emerge as some of the top programs in the nation is no coincidence,” Perry said. “I felt like this was a real possibility for me to come in and help turn around the community and the fan base and get them involved in the Hawkeye Wrestling Club. I think that as we do that, we will be back on top of the wrestling world. It’s a little overwhelming right now. I have been staying at (Iowa assistant coach Ryan) Morningstar’s place and staying at a hotel. On July 1 I’ll get settled in. I’m very excited to get that done and really get things started.”
One of the first moves Perry did was bring Illinois national champion Jesse Delgado on board as a coach for the Hawkeye Wrestling Club. Perry promises that is just the first of many big announcements in the coming weeks and months.
“I’ve studied the history of business and the top programs in the country and look at the premier clubs in the country, that’s where the best guys want to go and wrestle,” Perry said. “It’s a little different model than other sports. If you take Steph Curry or LeBron James and they joined the Hawkeye Basketball Club and started rubbing elbows with the Hawkeye basketball team, how good would Iowa be? Without a doubt, if we build our club into one of the best in the U.S. and one of the best in the world, we will be recognized as America’s top, top training environment and that will rub off on the college team.
“We’ve had guys like Steve Mocco and Brent Metcalf, Joe Williams and Lincoln McIlravy in the Hawkeye Wrestling Club. Those were some of the best wrestlers in the world. Our job is to get a whole roomful of guys like that.”
Another area Perry will be focusing on is raising money for the Hawkeye Wrestling Club. He said he is in talks with several major sponsors which will be announced in the near future. He said fans can make donations at hwcdonor.com.
Perry is anxious to get the ball rolling at Iowa and help get the next group of wrestlers ready for the 2018 World Cup in Iowa City and the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
“I’m very grateful and excited to get settled in and get to work. I couldn’t be happier to do my part to help build a world class program here at Iowa,” Perry said. “What better place to be than at home here in Iowa where I am most comfortable?”