51 Straight and Counting

Jan. 15, 2010

EDITOR’S NOTE:The following first appeared in the Jan. 14 edition of the University of Iowa’s Official Sports Report, a free daily e-newsletter. For more information about the UI’s OSR, click HERE.

IOWA CITY, Iowa –There won’t be any need to remind the University of Iowa wrestlers and coaches about the significance of Saturday’s dual in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. During its most recent visit to Iowa City — Jan. 5, 2008 — Oklahoma State stunned the Hawkeyes. It was the lone blemish out of 22 dual meets during the UI’s national championship run that season.

“We’re in the same scenario,” UI head coach Tom Brands said. “We have to get ready for them. Nothing’s changing. They have a team they believe in and they’ve added to it with some transfers. So what?”

The Hawkeyes (13-0 overall) have not lost since that evening in ’08. They will put a 51-match dual winning streak on the line against the Cowboys with action beginning at 7 p.m. Oklahoma State (8-0-1) is ranked No. 4 in the nation and has won nine of the last 10 in the series. Iowa won 20-13 a year ago in Stillwater. Six of the 10 bouts could potentially feature battles between nationally rated wrestlers.

Saturday’s match has also been designated a “Gold Rush” event. Fans are encouraged to show their support of the top-ranked Hawkeyes by wearing gold.

In 2008, the Hawkeyes were coming off their first Midlands championship in five seasons. This year Iowa will try to keep rolling after winning its third consecutive trophy at the Cliff Keen/NWCA National Duals. Along the way, the Hawkeyes defeated Nebraska (33-3), Boise State (20-12), Minnesota (28-12) and Iowa State (19-12).

UI senior 174-pounder Jay Borschel improved to 18-0 on the season with two decisions and two major decisions at the national duals. He was named Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament.

“There are some areas where he has to clean ’em up. He’s a little sloppy,” Brands said of Borschel. “After I said that, he really widened the gap on Duke Burk in the Iowa State meet (a 10-2 victory). I like the fact he went and got the major decision on his own. It wasn’t from a coach’s standpoint; he made that decision to get the major, and major decisions are huge. They show dominance.”

Borschel is expected to be paired against Oklahoma State’s Mike Benefiel (24-1) on Saturday. Benefiel began his collegiate career at Northwestern.

The Hawkeyes won last weekend’s dual title without regulars Daniel Dennis at 133 and Chad Beatty at 197. Dan LeClere and Montell Marion shared time at 141, as did Aaron Janssen and Jake Kerr at 157. The UI football team lives by the “Next Man In” creed; Brands and his Hawkeyes share a similar belief.

Fans attending the Iowa-Oklahoma State wrestling match are reminded that doors to the Arena will open 90 minutes prior to the first match, to purchase their tickets in advance, and to use the print-at-home option if purchasing online. Free parking for the event is located west of the UI Recreation Building and Kinnick Stadium, the Dental Building parking lot east of Carver, and the Finkbine Commuter parking lot.

“We talk about guys being on the same page,” Brands said. “Your marching orders and your mindset is that you’re going to win the individual title at your weight class. If I’m a 174-pounder and I’m a true freshman, my marching orders are that I’m going to win the weight class at 174 pounds, regardless if Jay Borschel’s in front of me.”

Nate Morre subbed for Dennis and posted wins against C.J. Napier of Nebraska and Thane Antczak of Minnesota. Luke Lofthouse defeated Matt Casperson of Boise State at 197. The Hawkeyes were 3-1 at both 141 and 157.

“Our individuals are coming along for the most part,” Brands said. “We have to keep ironing some things out and that means you’re getting better every day. That’s a good way to approach your development and your training and we have guys that live that way. They work hard every day to get better and we have to keep that going.”

Iowa faced No. 2 Iowa State in the finals of the national duals. The Hawkeyes won by two points in a dual more than a month ago in Ames. On Saturday, they extended that winning margin to seven for a sixth consecutive victory in the series.

Brands praised the performance of 125-pounder Matt McDonough following a 9-8 decision over Andrew Long of the Cyclones. The win — McDonough’s third of the season against his rival — left him with a 19-0 record. Long led 5-2 in the second period.

“Anytime you have a guy like McDonough winning the way he’s winning and keeping a good thing going because he’s undefeated,” Brands said. “He’s just relentless. No matter what the odds are against him at certain points in the match, they are never insurmountable.”

There were other Hawkeye highlights against Iowa State: Janssen finishing a low ankle shot in sudden victory for a decision in one of the toss-up matches; Ryan Morningstar with a takedown and late ride to avenge his only two losses of the season to Jon Reader at 165; and Borschel working hard for the major decision.

Eight of the top 10 teams in the nation were at the national duals in Cedar Falls. Oklahoma State was not. The wrestling world will find out what it missed tomorrow night inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. To purchase tickets online, click HERE.