Hawkeyes Ready to Grapple in the Garden

Dec. 11, 2012

Weekly Release (Dec. 11, 2012)

IOWA CITY, Iowa — A building with a history of hosting some of the biggest sporting events will host one of the biggest names in the sport of wrestling when the University of Iowa competes in the Grapple at the Garden on Dec. 16 in New York City’s Madison Square Garden.

The No. 5 ranked Hawkeyes (7-0 overall) take on Hofstra (0-9) at 9:30 a.m. (CT) on Sunday, followed by a dual against Bucknell (2-1) at 11:30.

“It’s going to be fantastic,” UI head coach Tom Brands said Tuesday at his weekly news conference inside the Dan Gable Wrestling Complex. “This is the world’s stage. You are in a marquee facility and you’re putting wrestling on that stage. It has been marketed and promoted in a first-class way.”

While Madison Square Garden provides the historic backdrop, Brands intends to bring the pyrotechnics from Iowa City.

“There has to be fireworks involved and we have to do our job, too,” Brands said. “It’s about putting a high-powered team on the mat and everybody is trying to score points up and down the lineup. Don’t get conservative and win, 3-2. It’s about the pin. That’s how you create a buzz.”

Iowa leads the series with Hofstra, 6-0, and the Hawkeyes are 2-0 against Bucknell. Hofstra returns NCAA qualifiers Steve Bonanno (125), Jamie Franco (133), Luke Vaith (141), and Justin Accordino (149). Bucknell returns NCAA qualifiers in Austin Miller (125) and Corey Lear (165).

The Hawkeyes conclude their East Coast swing with a dual at Buffalo on Monday, Dec. 17, beginning at 6 p.m. (CT). It will be the first meeting between Iowa and Buffalo; the Bulls have two returning NCAA qualifiers in Max Soria (125) and Mark Kewandowski (157).

Senior Matt McDonough’s career-best 35-match win streak will be tested by facing three returning national qualifiers, although only Hofstra’s Bonanno is currently ranked (No. 19 by Intermat).

Brands was asked Tuesday about another 125-pounder in the Hawkeye wrestling room, freshman Cory Clark, who won the UNI Open on Dec. 8 with a 6-1 win against No. 2 ranked Jesse Delgado of Illinois. Delgado is one of four people with a collegiate victory against McDonough.

“We’re not surprised, we expect that,” Brands said of Clark’s performance. “It’s a good template for any freshman — go out and wrestle. We’re Division I now; Clark has to keep it going.”