Falck hardening for the battle

Feb. 19, 2009

IOWA CITY, Iowa — No wrestler in the nation has faced a stiffer conclusion to the dual season than Charlie Falck, but the University of Iowa senior 125-pounder wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I like it. It’s going to harden me for the battle,” Falck said. “When you wrestle at the national tournament, it’s not like you’re going to have a decent opponent and then a lesser opponent. They’re going to get tougher and tougher and tougher. This will just harden me for the battle.”

Falck is a two-time All-American, placing eighth in 2007 and sixth a year ago at 125. He is currently rated No. 5 in Division I after surrendering a last-second takedown Feb. 15 during a 5-4 loss to Minnesota’s Zach Sanders, who is ranked seventh.

“(Coach Tom Brands) didn’t have to say much because I know better,” Falck said. “He said, `You have more ammo, you have to fire it.’ What he means by that is hitting offensive holds and if I do that, there’s nobody who can beat me. I have to hit offense and I know better. I’m not young and dumb. I’m a senior and I know better. It’s not acceptable.”

Falck met Sanders for the first time and he will face two other Big Ten rivals ranked in the top four this weekend. On Friday, Feb. 20, the top-ranked Hawkeyes (22-0 overall, 6-0 Big Ten) wrestle at No. 18 Indiana. Two days later they battle at No. 19 Northwestern. If both duals begin at 125 pounds, fans will want to arrive early to catch a marquee bout.

Indiana’s 125-pounder, Angel Escobedo, is the defending NCAA and Big Ten champion. He owns a record of 18-2 and is ranked No. 3. Falck is 2-2 all-time against Escobedo. At 125 for Northwestern is No. 4 Brandon Precin, who has won 21 of his last 22 matches and is 23-2 overall. Falck is 2-1 against Precin and has won the last two head-to-head meetings.

“This is a great opportunity because of what happened last weekend,” Falck said. “I get to go right back in and wrestle two top opponents and show that (the loss to Sanders) shouldn’t have happened.”

The matches against Escobedo and Precin will be the final two dual starts for Falck, who is 87-30 during his career. It is almost guaranteed that Falck will meet Sanders, Escobedo and Precin at least once — if not twice — at the Big Ten Championships (March 7-8 at State College, Pa.) and the NCAA Championships (March 19-21 at St. Louis, Mo.).

“It’s always been exciting,” Falck said. “This is my last hurrah, so this is it for me for college wrestling. It’s exciting.”

Iowa has won 36 consecutive dual meets including 16 straight against Big Ten opponents. The Hawkeyes are the defending conference and national champions.

“We train all year long, it’s not just a three-month or four-month little cycle,” said Falck, a native of Strawberry Point, Iowa. “I don’t even know how long the season actually is because we’re on a 12-month cycle. It makes you tough for the long run, not a short period of time.”

In the Hawkeye camp, there is always room for improvement.

“We still have things to work on, you always have things to work on,” Falck said. “We’ll be working on things five minutes before we walk out on the mat. I feel good about where the team is and I think each individual feels good and that’s what you want.”

The Iowa-Indiana dual begins at 6 p.m. on Friday and the Iowa-Northwestern dual begins at 2 p.m. on Sunday.