Jan. 11, 2013
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — University of Iowa sophomore Mike Evans has a golden opportunity if the saying, `To be the best, you have to beat the best’ rings true.
A week ago, the No. 2 wrestler at 174 pounds came into Carver-Hawkeye Arena and Evans sent him away sulking with a 9-4 loss in overtime. On Sunday, the undefeated Evans — 9-0 and ranked No. 6 in the nation — faces top-ranked Chris Perry of Oklahoma State in Stillwater, Okla.
“He’s the No. 1 guy, why wouldn’t I want to bury him?” Evans said. “I will need to wrestle hard, wrestle seven minutes, and more if I need to.”
Perry is the brother of two-time NCAA champion Mark Perry, who competed for the Hawkeyes from 2004-08. The younger Perry, who was third at nationals in 2012, has won 24 consecutive duals matches. His career record of 63-8 looks more impressive when considering he is 38-1 as a sophomore and junior. This season Perry has 43 takedowns in 17 bouts.
“The No. 2-ranked guy was in here and now we’re going to see the No. 1-ranked guy, so let’s keep a good thing going there,” UI head coach Tom Brands said. “I’m sure Mike Evans relishes the challenge, as do we. It’s going to be an entertaining match. When I say entertaining, let’s make it that way and go in our favor. That’s what you go out and try to do.”
“The No. 2-ranked guy was in here and now we’re going to see the No. 1-ranked guy, so let’s keep a good thing going there. I’m sure Mike Evans relishes the challenge, as do we. It’s going to be an entertaining match. When I say entertaining, let’s make it that way and go in our favor. That’s what you go out and try to do.”
UI head wrestling coach
Perry has never lost a dual to a Hawkeye. He defeated Grant Gambrall, 2-0, at 184 pounds in 2011, and edged Ethen Lofthouse, 3-2, in overtime at 174 in 2012.
Evans says momentum is on his side. The five-point win against Nick Heflin of Ohio State on Jan. 4 is one reason, but then he followed that with a fall against Chad Welch of Purdue in 4:52. Both of those results last weekend were accomplished inside friendly Carver-Hawkeye Arena. It will not be as pleasant for the Hawkeyes in Gallagher-Iba Arena.
“I’m used to it,” Evans said. “You have to be used to people hating you. It just adds to the win if you get it.”
The 174-pound class in the Big Ten Conference is loaded. Eight of the top 12 competitors (according to the latest Intermat poll) are from the Big Ten, including wrestlers currently ranked No. 2, 3, and 4.
Oklahoma State and Iowa are the two finest wrestling programs in NCAA history. The Cowboys have won 34 national championships on the mat, followed by Iowa with 23. Since 2007, Oklahoma State has crowned just two NCAA individual champions, however, while the Hawkeyes have had seven.
“These are the two most-storied programs in the history of college wrestling, and history has been maintained,” Brands said. “Both programs are competing for the same hardware. (Oklahoma State head coach) John Smith is the most-decorated wrestler in American history. He has a good thing going down there and we have a good thing going up here. That’s why it’s important and the fans get behind that.”
Smith is 15-7-1 as a coach against Iowa, Brands is 2-4-1 against the Cowboys.
Action begins Sunday at 2 p.m. (CT). Oklahoma State (7-0) is ranked No. 2, Iowa (13-0) is ranked No. 4. Matches that feature both nationally ranked wrestlers are 133 pounds, 149, 157, 165, 184 and 285.