Dennis Extends Mastery Over Gomez

Feb. 5, 2010

Editor’s Note: The following article first appeared in the Feb. 1 edition of the Official Sports Report (OSR) for the University of Iowa. OSR is a daily e-newsletter exclusively about the Iowa Hawkeyes. Click HERE to learn more.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Beating a national champion is a hollow feeling if you don’t become a national champion.

That’s the posture University of Iowa’s Daniel Dennis is taking following a 3-2 overtime victory over top-ranked and defending 133-pound national champion Franklin Gomez of Michigan State on Jan. 31 inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

“He has a national title and that’s what I’m striving for,” Dennis said. “Beating a national champ doesn’t mean anything because I don’t want to beat national champs, I want to be the national champ. I don’t care about beating them unless it’s a stepping stone to becoming a national champ. That’s the only thing that’s going to satisfy me this season. That’s what I’m striving for. It’s what numerous kids on our team are striving for — if not 10.”

Dennis improved to 12-1 on the season; the top-ranked Hawkeyes, after a 37-0 win against the Spartans, are 18-0.

Gomez peaked at the right time last March, but Dennis has his number over the long haul, with four victories against the Michigan State senior — two each in folkstyle and freestyle.

“We’re 4-0 against him and that’s going to pay off in the future,” UI head coach Tom Brands said. “I look at it like every match is important and Dennis wrestles that way; he wrestles like every match is important and that’s why he’s been beating (Gomez). A close match and not getting what you want and getting your hand raised is a big, big difference.”

The two could meet again on March 7 at the Big Ten championships in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“Beating him really means diddly-squat outside of congratulations for beating a solid opponent,” Dennis said. “That’s the way I’m looking at it. If I’m happy with this for my season, there’s going to be disappointment.”

The crowd of 7,120 was entertained as the 133-pound match went into overtime. Dennis, who compiled 59 seconds of riding time, was one tick of the clock from winning in regulation.

“I was being a little too aware of (the riding time),” Dennis said. “When he got to his feet, I should have lifted him up, brought him down and rode him and kept him flat. I knew riding time was close and I tried to hold on instead of doing what I should have done.”

In the words of Dennis, his win, as well as the team’s win, isn’t grounds to become “fat and happy.” In fact, moments after his victory, Dennis was riding a stationary bike in the wrestling room, replaying the match in his mind. The one-point margin didn’t sit well with the senior from Ingleside, Ill.

“It was good hard-fought match, but it wasn’t the smartest match I’ve ever wrestled,” Dennis said. “I didn’t give myself many scoring opportunities. There were maybe two times when I got in on the leg and it should have been that times five. It was a good win, but why not make it a dominating win instead of a good, hard-fought win?”

The Hawkeyes return to action Saturday, Feb. 6, against Utah State in Vernal, Utah.