Dec. 11, 2007
IOWA CITY — If Tom Brands needed a piece of simple, yet effective, advice on how to handle his top-ranked University of Iowa wrestling team, he received it during a phone call from his father.
“Bub, keep ’em there,” the elder Brands said.
The Hawkeyes vaulted past Iowa State and Minnesota into first place nationally following a convincing 20-13 win over Iowa State on Dec. 9 in Ames. It came without three-time All-American and defending national champion Mark Perry, who was serving a one-match suspension.
“I think we have a lot of work to do,” Brands said. “We have to keep moving forward. It’s early yet and there’s a lot of parity out there. We have to be very consistent and very tough.”
Iowa fans will have an opportunity to watch the Hawkeyes on Thursday, Dec. 13, with two duals inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The first is against No. 25 Northern Iowa at 6:30 p.m., and the second is against Cornell College, which is rated No. 10 in Division III.
The Hawkeyes reached top-billing in the national rankings without a top-ranked individual and only four wrestlers in the top six at their respective weight classes. Senior Mark Perry is second at 165 pounds, junior Charlie Falck is fifth and 125, senior Matt Fields is fifth at 285 and sophomore Brent Metcalf is sixth at 149.
“I don’t know if some of our individuals have done the job enough to be ranked higher,” Brands said. “Consistency is how you get high rankings. All we can say right now is that we beat Iowa State. We have to keep it going.”
There is conflicting information about the last time the Hawkeyes have been ranked No. 1 in the nation as a team. It has been reported in one newspaper as December, 2003, and as 2000 by another. Iowa’s last NCAA championship was during the 1999-2000 season.
“Rankings go away when you step on the mat,” Brands said. “The main thing is that we realized we can come through in a big meet and that we’re capable in that regard. Now we have to respond by coming back stronger the next time.”
Brands saw several strengths against the Cyclones.
“The matches we that we won, we attacked well and took advantage of that attack,” Brands said. “We rode tough, came off the bottom when we had to and we scored takedowns.”
Brands complimented Fields for “breaking through” in a pressure situation with the Hawkeyes holding a 17-13 lead heading into his bout with David Zabriskie (Fields won, 6-3). Brands also noted freshman Jake Kerr for filling in for Perry at 165.
“We want to show the nation our depth and that the future is good, too,” Brands said. “We’re going to bring Jake along and make him better. You never know when you’re going to get your chance and you have to be ready when it comes. That’s a lesson, too.”
Brands said Perry is also looking forward to a rematch against No. 3 Moza Fay on Northern Iowa.
“Perry is excited,” Brands said. “You learn from this and redeem yourself. Life is short. You have to take advantage of your opportunities and get ready for this match.”
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