Feb. 12, 2012
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AMES, Iowa — If there is a trophy, plaque or even a medal at stake, University of Iowa 133-pound wrestler Tony Ramos wants to bring it from Ames to Iowa City today.
The No. 5 Hawkeye wrestling team — top-seeded at the Iowa State Regional — takes on the winner of Virginia Tech and Northern Iowa at 1 p.m. (CT) today in the semifinals of the NWCA/Cliff Keen National Duals Mat Mayhem. All three rounds (finals will be held at 3) are at Hilton Coliseum on the Iowa State campus.
“We want to bring everything home,” Ramos said. “Any time there’s hardware or first place out there, you want to bring it home with you. It doesn’t matter if it’s just yourself or as a team; you always want to win everything.”
No offense to UNI head coach Doug Schwab, one of Ramos’ assistant coaches at Iowa, but the fourth-ranked Hawkeye is hoping to meet Virginia Tech in the semis. Top-ranked Hokie Devin Carter handed Ramos the first of his two losses this season in the finals of the Midlands Championships on Dec. 30.
“I’m excited for it,” Ramos said. “I hope that if our teams wrestle, they send him out. I’m going to go out there and prove that it was a fluke, and it’s not going to happen again.”
Carter won, 6-4 in overtime, at Midlands…but 44 days have passed since.
“We need to keep building every day and getting better,” Ramos said. “You need to come on for every match and keep building and getting better every time. Our guys are working tough and it’s a good thing to see. We’ll find out where we’re at after this weekend.”
“We want to bring everything home. Any time there’s hardware or first place out there, you want to bring it home with you. It doesn’t matter if it’s just yourself or as a team; you always want to win everything.”
UI 133-pound wrestler
The Hawkeyes enter Mat Mayhem with a record of 11-3 overall, 6-2 in the Big Ten Conference. Iowa is 3-0 against teams in the Iowa State Regional. The victories include 27-9 against the host Cyclones, 38-4 against Northern Iowa, and 39-3 against Wisconsin. The other teams are Virginia Tech, coached by former Hawkeye Kevin Dresser (142-pound national champion in 1986) and Oregon State, coached by former Hawkeye Jim Zalesky (158-pound national champion in 1982, ’83, and ’84).
The National Duals Championships will be Sunday, Feb. 19, at a site to be determined. With the Big Ten Championships from March 3-4 and the NCAA Championships from March 15-17, action at Mat Mayhem could go a long way in determining postseason seeds. UI head coach Tom Brands intends to field his full lineup, regardless of the situation.
“This is a chance for us to get ourselves back on top,” Brands said. “It’s a big event and we’re coming full throttle.”
The Hawkeyes did not attend national duals last season, but Brands says it is important to return in an effort to help generate a buzz for the sport, and possibly have the NCAA “pick up” the event.
“The schedule says it’s the national duals, so we’re getting ready for the national duals,” Brands said. “That’s how we operate, at least from our philosophical point of view. The next event is the most important event; that’s a good way to march when you’re talking about getting ready for competition.”
No. 2 Penn State is not competing this weekend, but that leaves Iowa still looking up the team rankings board at No. 1 Oklahoma State, No. 3 Cornell, and No. 4 Minnesota. The Hawkeyes lost to Oklahoma State, 17-16 by criteria, on Jan. 7, and defeated Minnesota, 19-17, on Jan. 29. Both meets were in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. No. 9 Pittsburgh and No. 10 Wyoming are also not involved in Mat Mayhem.
“I would love to wrestle Oklahoma State again,” Ramos said. “I would love to wrestle Ohio State again; to show we’re improving and getting better. People are already counting us out, but we’re right there, and we’re up there with the best of them.”
Other No. 1 seeds are Minnesota, Cornell and Oklahoma State. The Oklahoma State Regional contains three top 10 teams: the No. 1 Cowboys, No. 6 Ohio State and No. 8 Nebraska. The only other regional with multiple top 10 teams is at Cornell, with the No. 3 Big Red and No. 7 Illinois.
And for all those naysayers, Ramos has a pre-Mayhem message:
“You should never count Iowa out of anything,” he said.