published Thursday, November 15th, 2012

Terry Brands comes home with tough Iowa team

Friday's schedule

No. 16 Virginia vs. Cumberland, 2

No. 4 Iowa vs. Cumberland, 3:30

No. 16 Virginia vs. No. 4 Iowa, 5

UTC vs. Cumberland, 5

UTC vs. No. 4 Iowa, 7

Although it is a business trip, Terry Brands is coming back to Chattanooga.

No one's surprised, though, that it's a business trip. A former University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling coach, Brands always was about business.

He and his brother, head coach Tom Brands, are bringing their Iowa wrestling team in today for Friday meets at Maclellan Gym against Cumberland University, Virginia and the host Mocs. Wrestling starts at 2 p.m. and admission is $5 per person.

For Terry Brands, Iowa's associate head coach, it will be an opportunity to see how a program he began anew has progressed since he left following a Southern Conference championship season in 2003.

"He jump-started the program back in the early 2000s," said Heath Eslinger, the Mocs' current head coach and a former Brands assistant.

Though his head coaching record with the Mocs was two matches under .500 (31-33) with a single Southern Conference title, Brands had two All-Americans and had begun raising the bar and changing the mindset from conference championships to NCAA place-winners. He had two All-Americans, both in 2005, in Michael Keefe, now head coach at Dade County, and current Mocs assistant Jon Sioredas.

"He was a great coach but a better person," Sioredas said. "He led by example; ran a clean program, lived a clean life. You could feel his presence in the room, and it's my opinion that having a legend in the room made a difference for all of us."

Brands, a three-time NCAA medalist and two-time champion, was a two-time world cup champion, a three-time U.S. Nationals titlist and six-time finalist and a bronze medalist in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia.

"He was tough, but he knew the difference between tough and intense," Sioredas said. "As a leader he was tough. It was that intensity in the room day in and day out that got us ready."

It is a philosophy that obviously has carried over through Eslinger, a Brands assistant for two years; Soriedas, who rejoined the Mocs this season from Old Dominion; and Mike Hatcher, the Mocs' volunteer assistant who wrestled at Iowa on teams with the Brands brothers under the legendary Dan Gable.

"They were extraordinary wrestlers," Hatcher said. "I remember having to wrestle them the first time and afterward wondering what planet I was on. Terry was in my wedding and I in his.

"People think of them as very intense, brutal wrestlers and people see that intensity, but they are very caring people and it's an honor to be friends with them, to have wrestled with and for them and to see their perspective on wrestling and life, from the way they parent to the way they treat their wives and family members."

about Ward Gossett...

Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...

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