Scott Dochterman/Land of 10
Iowa baseball coach Rick Heller has turned the Hawkeyes into contenders.

Iowa baseball’s Rick Heller earns top coach vote, MLB draft opens Monday and a wrestling showdown

The best way to start your day is right here at as we prepare you for everything you need to know about Iowa sports. We’ll share our Iowa Breakfast Club here with you at 7 a.m. (ET) Monday through Friday.

So let’s get to it. Here is the Iowa Breakfast Club for Monday, June 12.

Heller is high water

Iowa baseball wallowed in quicksand before coach Rick Heller took over the program in the summer of 2013.

The Hawkeyes had losing seasons in 15 of the previous 17 seasons, and many fans speculated that program was headed toward elimination like those at Wisconsin, Iowa State and Northern Iowa.

But Heller came to Iowa with a mission and a track record of turning programs into winners. He took Upper Iowa, Northern Iowa and Indiana State to the NCAA Tournament. He vowed to do so at Iowa, and some were skeptical. Now, no Iowa coach has as much momentum with the fan base as Heller.

In four seasons, Heller twice has taken the Hawkeyes to the NCAA Tournament. This year, Iowa won the Big Ten Tournament for the first time and later upset a top seed in the NCAA opener. The 39 wins were the fifth-most in school history.  For those accomplishments, Heller is my pick for Iowa’s coach of the year. Our readers agreed.

As of Sunday night, Heller picked up 718 of the 781 votes on a Land of 10 poll. The other finalists — Larissa Libby (women’s gymnastics), Andrew Carter (rowing), Tom Brands (wrestling) and Bond Shymansky (volleyball) — also had terrific seasons, along with men’s and women’s track coach Joey Woody. But Heller and his success clearly have resonated with Iowa fans, and the once-dormant baseball program now is a serious annual Big Ten contender.

All (Hawk)eyes on MLB draft

The three-day Major League Baseball draft opens Monday at 6 p.m. CT with the first two rounds. Tuesday, Rounds 3-10 will be held beginning at noon CT. Rounds 11-40 will be on Wednesday.

Two Iowa players are ranked among Baseball America’s top 500 prospects. First baseman Jake Adams, who hit a Big Ten-record 29 home runs, was ranked No. 296. Pitcher Nick Gallagher, who finished the season 8-2, was rated the No. 339 prospect. Both are juniors and could return to Iowa for their senior seasons if they aren’t drafted as highly as they hope. Senior shortstop Mason McCoy also could be selected.

One player to watch is incoming football recruit Henry Marchese. At 6-foot, 3-inches and 190 pounds, the Vernon Hills, Ill., outfielder would have a shot to go high if he wasn’t signed on to play wide receiver at Iowa.

Wrestling showdown

In a 57-kilogram match between former Iowa wrestlers that captivated the wrestling world, Thomas Gilman twice beat Tony Ramos on Saturday to clinch a spot on the United States squad that will compete in the World Championships this summer.

The former teammates engaged in a war of words leading up to the best-of-3 showdown. Gilman, who finished third in the NCAA Tournament at 125 pounds after an overtime upset, was a three-time All-American. Ramos won the 2014 NCAA title and last year finished second to former Iowa wrestler Daniel Dennis for a U.S. Olympic spot. Ramos said the Iowa wrestling coaches “stabbed him in the back” and he left the Iowa City area to train in North Carolina.

After the match, the intense rhetoric subsided. Gilman told Chris Cuellar of the Des Moines Register, “I’m not going to stand here and pretend there aren’t hard feelings. They were words toward the program. I take that personal. That’s my family.

“But I love the guy. He loves me, whether he wants to admit it or not. Once a Hawk, always a Hawk.”

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