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Wrestling transfers getting settled in at Iowa

IOWA CITY - Five wrestlers who left Virginia Tech after Tom Brands bolted in April to become the Iowa coach are enrolled in classes at Iowa.

Jay Borschel, a four-time state champion from Linn Mar, North-Linn four-time champ Dan LeClere, two-time champion Joe Slaton from Cedar Rapids Kennedy, Brent Metcalf of Davison, Mich., and T.H. Leet of Atlanta will participate in drills and workouts as walk-ons.

But unless they receive official releases from Virginia Tech scholarships this fall, they cannot compete for Iowa 's wrestling team this season. They're paying for all their education costs.

''They are going through the same process as incoming student-athletes, transfer status,'' Brands said. ''The thing I like about it is they want to be Iowa Hawkeyes. They want to be at the University of Iowa under this system, and to get an education, too.''

All five wrestlers signed letters of intent to compete for Virginia Tech when Brands was the school's head coach. But when former Iowa coach Jim Zalesky was fired and Brands became Iowa's coach, the wrestlers asked to be released from their scholarships. Virginia Tech
Athletics Director James Weaver refused, and the wrestlers sued him and the school.

If the school does not grant their releases, the wrestlers lose a year of eligibility.

Virginia Tech has filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, which will be heard in October. Meanwhile, the athletes can practice and attend classes. If the lawsuit is dismissed or lost, they would have to wrestle unattached in competition.

It's a frustrating process for the wrestlers.

''All three of the Iowa guys and three or four of their parents were in a room with (Weaver), and he convinced them and the process convinced Coach Brands that if for any reason they wanted to transfer if Coach Brands left, they would be released, as well as us,'' Leet said Wednesday. ''So we were in the process, and we didn't get that written down. Right now, we're trying to get released. Worst case, we'll be up here training all year. This is a lot better than not training up here.''

The wrestlers spent their summers working out at various locations, and none of them were allowed contact with Brands. LeClere said they were like ''nomads'' during the summer until classes began Monday.

''This is where I thought I'd be growing up, and the last few years of high school it kind of changed,'' LeClere said. ''I'm glad to be back.''

Borschel hopes the legal case ends before Iowa's first meet Nov. 18.

''We have a time period we're working with, so we're trying to get it done before the season starts,'' Borschel said.

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