Class of 2024

Daniel Dennis, Fox Lake (Grant)/Univ of Iowa


Daniel Dennis certainly did not follow the typical route that most who make the U.S. National Team and participate in the Olympics take, such as winning championships in both high school and college. In fact, he didn't win any IHSA championships at Grant High School or NCAA titles at the University of Iowa, losing twice in a state title match, and once in a college title match before it appeared for a time that he had given up on the sport as he traveled throughout the west, living briefly in a truck and then a trailer before finally making his return several years later to eventually qualify for a spot in the 2016 Olympics at an Olympic Trials that took place at the college arena that he had competed at. After going 40-5 and taking fourth place at 112 as a sophomore for 2014 IWCOA Hall of Fame coach Ryan Geist in 2002-03, he went 44-6 as a junior and lost to Bolingbrook's Kyle Jahn in the 2004 Class AA Finals at 125. One week later, he got the opportunity to compete with his Bulldogs' teammates in their school's first IHSA Dual Team Finals meet. In his senior season of 2004-05, he finished 47-2 after losing to Mount Carmel's Kenny Jordan in the 130 AA championship match. He finished his career at Grant with a 153-28 record and was his school's leader in wins, technical falls and most team points when he graduated. At the University of Iowa, he went 20-18 in 2005-06 and earned a letter and the next season he redshirted and went 13-2. His 2007-08 season was one match due to injury but he still got a letter and was on a national championship team. In 2008-09, competing for coach Tom Brands' national champion Hawkeyes, he earned All-American honors at 133 by placing seventh at the NCAA Championships and finished 31-6 and earned another letter in addition to winning the Ken Kraft Midlands. In his senior season of 2009-10, he was the NCAA runner-up at 133, falling in the championship in heartbreaking fashion, as a late lead slipped away and he lost 6-4 to Minnesota's Jayson Ness. Beside being a part of a third NCAA title team, he also took second in the Big Ten that season, when he finished with a 22-4 record and won his fourth letter. After leaving competition, he worked at camps and coached at Windsor High School in California. He returned in 2015 and finished fourth at the U.S. Open, and later placed at World Team Trials in 2015 and 2016 and won Grand Prix in Spain and Germany. In 2016, he won the US Olympics Team Trials at 57 kg in Iowa City over Iowa graduate Tony Ramos, and competed in the 2016 Rio Olympics, where he lost his lone match to Vladimir Dubov of Bulgaria.