Tsirtsis Ready to Take on the NCAA

March 13, 2006

After a third-place finish at the Big Ten Championships just a few weeks ago, Alex Tsirtsis is looking for more at the NCAA championships this weekend. With the strong showing at the Big Ten meet, Wrestling International Newsmagazine moved Tsirtsis up two spots to eleventh in its latest poll.

It has been a tough road for Tsirtsis this season with eleven of his 33 matches coming against opponents currently ranked in the top 20. He boasts a 23-10 record, with seven of the losses coming against ranked opponents. His four wins over ranked opponents came against Michigan’s Josh Churella (5th), Northwestern’s Ryan Lang (8th), and Northern Illinois’ Josh Wooten (13th ) twice. Notable losses came against Iowa State’s Nate Gallick (1st), Oklahoma’s Teyon Ware (2nd), Michigan State’s Andy Simmons (4th) twice, and Churella.

“I realize I’m right there with everyone else, but at the same time I need a little extra effort to get those wins,” said Tsirtsis of the tough competition he’s had to face throughout the season. “I think they’re starting to come now and they’ll continue at the NCAA Championships.”

To close out the Big Ten regular season, he notched the big win he was looking for as he pulled off his best win of the season over Lang.

“It was a good win,” Tsirtsis said. “I lost to him twice last season. There was a little revenge involved.”

The win helped boost his confidence heading into the Big Ten meet. After losing to Simmons, Tsirtsis didn’t get down on himself. He found himself in the third-place match where he defeated Churella, who was the top-seed in the tournament.

“I didn’t accomplish what I wanted, but I had some good matches,” said Tsirtsis of the Big Ten outcome. “Hopefully I’ll get to wrestle Simmons again.”

Looking ahead to the NCAA Championships, he might get another chance at Simmons. With the level of competition he’s been facing throughout the season, he is well prepared for the tournament.

“I just need to take it one match at a time,” said Tsirtsis. “Whoever I have is the only person I’m going to worry about. Hopefully I’ll win that match.”

It’s been a long time coming, for Tsirtsis, since joining the Hawkeyes two years ago. Upon joining Iowa, he had finished his Indiana high school career as a four-time state champion while posting a 236-0 record.

Coming to Iowa was a good thing for him because the program has a lot of tradition. He knew that even with his outstanding high school career, he still had to prove himself. The one negative from his high school career was that he never had to endure a loss. In two years at Iowa he has experienced it 23 times.

“I never felt the hardships of losing. I came to college and had to put a lot of things into perspective,” said Tsirtsis. “Now that I’m starting to win a little more, winning feels that much better.”

With losing comes improvement and that is what Tsirtsis has been able to accomplish this season. Only a sophomore, he still has time develop, but he appears to be on the right track.

By Josh Mitchell, Iowa Sports Information