Renewing a Rivalry

Jan. 8, 2013

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Whether it is the first or second weekend in January, college wrestling has grown accustomed to circling those weekends on the calendar, as that marks the date of one of the sport’s top rivalries being renewed.

The Iowa-Oklahoma State showdown continues Sunday in Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Okla., beginning at 2 p.m. (CT).

“It is the two most storied programs in the history of college wrestling, and the tradition has been maintained,” said Brands of the importance of the rivalry during his Tuesday gathering with the media inside the Dan Gable Wrestling Complex. “Both programs are competing for the same hardware along with one, two or three schools. He (OSU coach John Smith) has a good thing going down there, and we have a good thing going up here. That’s why it is important, and the fans get behind it because of that.”

The Hawkeyes and Cowboys have combined for 57 NCAA Championships.

Sunday’s installment features No. 2 Oklahoma State against fourth-ranked Iowa. The dual will include 17 wrestlers ranked among the top 20 in at least one national poll. The Hawkeyes have nine; the Cowboys have eight.

“Every year we get asked how important this dual is, and every year, it’s the same thing,” said senior 125-pounder Matt McDonough. “It’s an important dual. The history book says it all, the fact there has been a rivalry there and there is a lot of hardware between the two teams.

“It’s important, but it’s even more important to bury them. They’re ranked No. 2. You want to bury them… leave no stone unturned.”
UI sophomore Mike Evans

“With the two coaches and the number of wrestlers that are extremely competitive, it will make quite a dual.”

One of the featured matches will take place at 174 pounds where No. 6 Mike Evans will face top-ranked Chris Perry. Evans is coming off an overtime victory over second-ranked Nick Heflin of Ohio State on Jan. 4.

“He got the No. 2 ranked guy, now we’re going to see the No. 1 ranked guy,” said Brands. “Let’s keep a good thing going. I am sure Mike Evans relishes the challenge, as do we.

“That’s going to be an entertaining match. When I say entertaining, let’s make it that way in our favor.”

Ranked wrestlers will also square off at 133 pounds (No. 2 Tony Ramos vs. No. 5 Jon Morrison), 149 pounds (No. 19 Michael Kelly vs. No. 1 Jordan Oliver), 157 pounds (No. 1 Derek St. John vs. No. 9 Alex Dieringer), 165 pounds (No. 19 Nick Moore vs. No. 3 Tyler Caldwell), 184 pounds (No. 9 Ethen Lofthouse vs. No. 12 Chris Chionuma) and 285 pounds (No. 6 Bobby Telford vs. No. 3 Alan Gelogaev).

Brands says the Hawkeyes need go into a tough environment and compete.

“I am not playing the underdog (card),” he said. “We have to move up there. There are 10 matches, they’re (ranked) two, we’re (ranked) fourth-fifth. We have to move up.”

The 141 pound match will be unique, as it includes a pair of Iowans, featuring senior Mark Ballweg (Waverly, Iowa) against OSU sophomore Julian Feikert of Keokuk, Iowa.

“We’re familiar with the guy,” said Brands. “It’s unique with a guy going down there from this state and being a starter. (Matt) McDonough wrestled him in the finals his senior year. There’s familiarity there, it’s not like we’ve never heard of him.”

While the dual as a whole is good for the sport, Evans says the Hawkeyes need to come out and make a statement.

“It’s important, but it’s even more important to bury them,” he said. “They’re ranked No. 2. You want to bury them… leave no stone unturned.”