I’ve been ranking the top-10 University of Iowa male student-athletes on an annual basis for more than a decade, and some things never change.
The current list is similar to the previous lists in that it’s dominated by Iowa wrestlers. Four of the 10 student-athletes on the list are wrestlers, including the top two spots.
Iowa is no longer the dominant wrestling program, with Penn State having won the last three NCAA titles. But wrestling still is king around here as evidenced by this list.
Noticeably absent from the list are Iowa football players, with exception to senior defensive back Micah Hyde. That’s part of the fallout from finishing 4-8 this past season. Hyde was the only Hawkeye football player to make first-team all-Big Ten in 2012.
1. Derek St. John, junior, wrestling: The former West High star used the incentive of finishing as a NCAA runner-up in 2012 to reach the pinnacle this past season. St. John captured the 157-pound NCAA title with a 3-2 victory against Northwestern’s Jason Welch in front of a mostly Hawkeye-loyal crowd of 16,653 at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. St. John finished 31-2 overall and was Iowa’s only NCAA champion this past season. He also led the team in total wins and with a .931 winning percentage.
2. Tony Ramos, junior, wrestling: His season ended with a controversial 7-4 loss to Ohio State’s Logan Stieber in the 133-pound NCAA title match. Ramos put Stieber on his back in the second period but was awarded only points for a takedown instead of a near-fall. Iowa associate coach Terry Brands argued for the near-fall points and said afterward that he felt Ramos had pinned Stieber.
Ramos, a native of Carol Stream, Ill., finished the season with a 30-2 record, including 23-0 in dual meets. He also led the team with 14 pins.
3. Justin Austin, senior, track and field: The Milwaukee native contributed 30 points to Iowa’s team total at the 2013 Big Ten Outdoors Championships. Austin captured Big Ten titles in the 100- and 200-meter dashes and ran the second leg of Iowa’s Big Ten champion 400-meter relay.
He was named Big Ten Track Athlete of the Year and of the Championships for the second time in the past three years. He did it for the first time in 2011. Austin also was named Midwest Region Track Athlete of the Year, becoming just the second student-athlete in program history to earn the regional honor. Former women’s sprinter Kineke Alexander won the honor in 2007.
Austin capped the outdoor season by earning All-America honors in the 200 with a sixth-place finish at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. The former University of Kentucky transfer also graduated with five school records: indoor 60 meters, indoor 200 meters, outdoor 100 meters, outdoor 200 meters and 4×100 relay.
4. Steven Ihm, junior, golf: To say that Ihm has been on a roll is as accurate as most of his shots have been on the golf course recently. His junior season was impressive enough, with Ihm making first-team all-Big Ten and with him leading Iowa to a sixth consecutive appearance in the NCAA Championships. The Dubuque Wahlert graduate finished with a team-low spring stroke average of 71.4 and with a season stroke average of 72.3, which is the third best in school history. Ihm also earned co-medalist honors at the Hawkeye Invitational and he shared co-medalist honors at the Boilermaker Invitational, becoming the first Hawkeye to win back-to-back stroke-play tournaments since 1970.
He finished tied for 13th place at the Big Ten Championships and was Iowa’s highest finisher at the NCAA Southeast Regional.
Ihm’s most noteworthy accomplishment came after the season when he won the 60th annual Sunnehanna Amateur Tournament of Champions in mid-June. He fired a four-round score of 272 (-8) and he joined a list of previous winners that includes Ben Crenshaw. Ihm also will compete in the John Deere Classic later this month on a sponsor’s exemption.
5. Micah Hyde, senior, football: The Fostoria, Ohio, native was one of the few bright spots in a season that unraveled with Iowa losing its last six games to finish 4-8. The Big Ten Conference still thought enough of Hyde to make him the recipient of the Big Ten’s Tatum-Woodson Award as the conference’s top defensive back. He finished fourth in the Big Ten with 15 passes defended. He also had an interception, forced two fumbles and finished fourth in the conference with a 7.44 average on 16 punt returns.
In addition to being the only Hawkeye to earn first-team all-Big Ten recognition in 2012, Hyde also was the only Hawkeye selected in the 2013 NFL draft. The Green Bay Packers picked him in the fifth round.
6. Devyn Marble, junior, basketball: The 6-foot-6 combo guard became the go-to player this season for a deep and talented squad. Marble averaged 20.4 points, 2.4 steals and five rebounds during Iowa’s five-game march to a runner-up finish in the NIT. He also led the team in scoring in 12 of the last 15 games and was one of just three Big Ten players to average at least 15 points and three assists per game. Former Michigan point Trey Burke and Penn State guard D.J. Newbill were the other two.
Marble made third-team all-Big Ten and was selected to the NIT all-tournament team. He enters his senior season ranked 28th on Iowa’s career scoring list with 1,134 points. His father, Roy Marble Sr., tops the list with 2,116 points.
7. Aaron White, sophomore, basketball: He started a school-record 38 games this past season and led Iowa in scoring 15 times and in rebounding a team-best 13 times. The 6-8 forward also earned the team’s best rebounder award for the second consecutive season, in addition to making third-team all-Big Ten.
A native of Strongsville, Ohio, White scored 488 points this past season, which ranks sixth highest by a Hawkeye sophomore. He also grabbed 234 rebounds, which ranks fourth all-time among Iowa sophomores. He made third-team all-Big Ten in March and then last week he made the roster for the World University Games, which is currently being held in Russia.
8. Ethen Lofthouse, senior, wrestling: The Avon, Utah, native came on strong at the end of the season, capped by a fifth-place finish at the NCAA Championships at 184 pounds. He also finished third at the Big Ten Championships for the second year in a row and compiled a 22-9 record.
9. Mike Evans, sophomore, wrestling: He earned All-America honors by finishing in sixth place at the NCAA Championships at 174 pounds. The Enola, Penn., native also finished runner-up at the Big Ten Championships and compiled a 23-7 record, including 17-3 in dual meets. Evans began the season 2-0 at 165 pounds before moving up to 174 pounds to help the team.
10. Javier Balboa, senior, gymnastics: The Monterrey, Mexico, native finished sixth in the all-around competition and eighth in the still rings at the NCAA Championships. He is Iowa’s first all-around All-American since 2005 and the first Hawkeye to earn All-America honors in multiple events since 2005.
Balboa also excels in the classroom as a three-time dean’s list student, a two-time academic all-Big Ten honoree and a two-time UI President’s Committee medallion winner.
Honorable mention: Eric Toole, so., baseball; Anton Gryshayev, sr., gymnastics; Joseph Winslow, so., golf; Grant Betulius, so., swimming; Garret Dunn, sr., tennis; and Klyvens Delaunay, track and field.
Category: Hawkeye news