Brandon Eggum requires no introduction to most wrestling fans. They know him from his three All-America seasons as a Gopher wrestler, for his medal finishes at international freestyle tournaments and from his 15 previous years on the Minnesota wrestling staff.
Tucked away just barely west of North Dakota in the first few miles of Montana, the small town of Sidney celebrates Eggum as one of its greatest exports. Before setting out for the Twin Cities, Eggum collected three Class A state championships wrestling for Sidney High School.
“Growing up in a town like Sidney, you have that small town atmosphere and a very supportive community behind you,” said Eggum. “It was a blue-collar place with people who knew how to work hard. I was attracted to the University of Minnesota because of that same, hard-nosed work ethic around the program.”
Eggum quickly entrenched himself in the Gopher lineup after redshirting his rookie season in Dinkytown. Wrestling at 177 pounds, Eggum earned the starting spot as a redshirt freshman and qualified for the NCAA tournament. The following year, Eggum not only returned to the national tournament, but earned his first All-America finish.
He bumped up to 184 pounds for his final two seasons at Minnesota. As a junior, the heavier Eggum won the 1999 Big Ten title and advanced all the way to the final match of the NCAA Championships, finishing as the national runner-up. As a senior, he successfully defended his Big Ten crown before turning in a third-place performance at the national meet.
“I was a little nervous about leaving a small town in Montana to come to the city, but I was welcomed in by 40 guys on the team with open arms. These guys became my family,” said Eggum. “We had a lot of success and did a lot of great things together, but to experience those things with them and learn from them was just phenomenal.”
Several of Eggum’s gaudiest statistics remain among the best in Gopher history, including his 115 career wins, his 61 dual meet victories and his .833 career winning percentage. Eggum also personified the student-athlete ideal in the classroom, earning Academic All-Big Ten recognition four times while pursuing his degree in Applied Economics.
“School didn’t come easy for me, but I definitely put in the time. I knew I had to go to class, turn in my work on time and do all the small things right. All that with a little hard work and I did well,” Eggum said. “I knew there would be life after wrestling and that was one of the things that brought me to Minnesota. If I wasn’t afraid to work hard, with all the opportunities in the Twin Cities after graduation, I thought the sky was the limit.”
Following his collegiate career, Eggum added international credentials to his wrestling resume. He brought home a silver medal from the 2001 World Freestyle Championships and matched the feat at the 2002 Pan American Freestyle Championships. In 2003, he was the bronze medalist at the U.S. National Freestyle Championships.
While training for international freestyle competition, Eggum started working for the Gopher Wrestling staff, serving as the program’s strength and conditioning coordinator when the program won its first two National Championships in 2001 and 2002.
“I go back to 1999. It was an amazing season. We dethroned Iowa at the Big Ten Championships but we fell just short at the NCAA tournament. I was devastated. To come back and win it in 2001, 2002 and 2007 was so great. Especially that first one. To be able to be on top and to be a part of it in 2001 was incredible,” said Eggum.
Eggum was promoted to assistant coach for the 2004 season. Since that appointment 12 years ago, Eggum has helped coached some of the biggest names in the program’s history, including national champions Dustin Schlatter, Jayson Ness, Damion Hahn, Cole Konrad and Tony Nelson, among dozens of All-Americans produced by the Minnesota program during that time.
While coaching at his alma mater has been the realization of a dream for Eggum, teaching the sport at all levels is his true passion. He has spent many years working closely with local wrestling clubs, and regularly speaks and teaches at clinics all across the country.
“Wrestling has been such a big part of my life and it’s done so many great things for me. To have the ability now to give back and help young men who have that same passion and drive, it’s humbling,” said Eggum. “I couldn’t imagine a better job out there then to work at the University of Minnesota and help our student-athletes achieve greatness and bring another national title to this program.”