A Time to Make Progress

Jan. 22, 2011

Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Brent Metcalf and Lance Palmer are gone. So are Phil Keddy and Mike Pucillo. Only half of the classic Ryan Morningstar-Colt Sponseller battle returns to the mat tonight when undefeated and eighth-rated Iowa entertains Big Ten Conference foe Ohio State.

A lot has changed since the Hawkeyes posted a 32-3 victory over Ohio State in Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Feb. 19, 2010. The Buckeyes have slipped from national contender to a team with a record of 2-5 overall, 1-1 in the Big Ten. They have four wrestlers in Saturday’s starting lineup that competed in the dual a season ago and all four lost. Iowa enters the meet 8-0-1 (1-0 in the league); three Hawkeyes who were victorious in last season’s dual return: senior Luke Lofthouse at 197, senior Aaron Janssen at 165 and sophomore Matt McDonough at 125.

A year ago Lofthouse defeated C.J. Magnum, 6-1, at 197, Janssen defeated Sean Nemec, 5-2, at 157 and McDonough won by major decision, 9-1, over Nikko Triggas at 125.

“I don’t see it any differently,” McDonough said. “They’re always going to be a good team with a lot of individuals who are ready to come out and compete. This is just another chance to get that seed late in the season at the Big Ten Tournament and hammer down on the opponents.”

The last three years Iowa and Ohio State have been at the top of the Big Ten; the Hawkeyes went 68-1 overall, 24-0 in the conference, while Ohio State was 53-8, 20-4. All three seasons, Iowa won the dual championship and the Buckeyes were runner-up.

“The evaluations that we have with our team are pretty much dead-on. We saw a lot of the same stuff (at Oklahoma State) and at some point you have to make progress. At some point you have to make progress!”
UI head coach Tom Brands

“Remember, we have nine new weights, too,” UI head coach Tom Brands said. “We need to make more progress quicker and we need to see some things happen. We talked about it and all radar is on Saturday night.”

Despite comparable cumulative records since 2008, the rivalry over the years has been one-sided. Iowa is 35-2 in the series and has won 33 consecutive meetings. A win Saturday would be the 71st straight time the Hawkeyes have competed without a dual loss.

UI redshirt freshman Derek St. John (10-2) makes his first dual appearance against the Buckeyes against Nemec (9-10) — now a junior — at 157 pounds. A 7-5 decision by St. John over Neil Erisman helped the Hawkeyes to a 15-15 draw at Oklahoma State on Jan. 16.

“It will be another big match, so I’m preparing and getting ready for that,” St. John said. “It’s just as important as any other — we’ve had how many tough duals in a row — tough matches — so it’s just another way to put yourself on top.”

Iowa returns to Carver-Hawkeye Arena, where it has won 30 consecutive duals. The Hawkeyes have shut out six opponents this season, three at home (Iowa Central, Coe, Southern Illinois Edwardsville). Brands emphasized that Iowa needs to show more growth.

“The evaluations that we have with our team are pretty much dead-on,” Brands said. “We saw a lot of the same stuff (at Oklahoma State) and at some point you have to make progress. At some point you have to make progress!”

It is a “Gold Rush” dual and fans are encouraged to wear gold attire to the meet. One person who won’t be in gold is Buckeye head coach Tom Ryan, the 2009 national coach of the year. Ryan, a 1993 graduate of the University of Iowa, is in his fifth season at Ohio State, where he has compiled a record of 63-20. The Buckeyes were NCAA runners-up to Iowa in 2008 and ’09. Ryan was an All-American for the Hawkeyes in 1991 and ’92.