The search for a volunteer assistant to oversee the upperweights on his roster led Iowa coach Tom Brands across state borders, rivalry lines and to the program that monopolized the college wrestling’s biggest weight class throughout the past decade.
Ben Berhow, a three-time heavyweight NCAA qualifier for Minnesota, said late Monday night that he will join the Hawkeyes as the replacement for Kurt Backes, who left the program earlier this month for a job with Wells Fargo in Des Moines.
“I was pretty impressed by (Iowa’s) staff and the way they presented their program and there’s a lot of benefits for me and my career,” Berhow said. “I want to be a coach for a living. I love coaching and the sport of wrestling, and I can’t think of a better program not only to learn from the coaches there but also to advance my career as a coach.”
Berhow, 25, spent the past two seasons as an administrative assistant at Minnesota, where he said one of his primary responsibilities was working with the Gophers’ heavyweights.
Minnesota has produced four of the last eight NCAA heavyweight champions, including Tony Nelson, a junior who captured his second national title in March.
One of Berhow’s primary tasks will be helping Iowa all-American Bobby Telford in his quest to knock Nelson from the top of the heavyweight podium.
“It’s about development, it’s about match strategy,” Berhow said. “I have some things that I think benefit heavyweights. I understand the way they wrestle and I’ve wrestled a lot of them. … I think I’m pretty good at talking to guys and getting them to believe in themselves, especially when I’m wrestling them several days a week. I know what they’re capable of and obviously Bob Telford is a pretty physical heavyweight – I’ve known that since he went to Iowa – and I look forward to helping him get where he wants to get.”