The Not-So Traveling Trophy

Nov. 27, 2013

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 — The Dan Gable Traveling Trophy doesn’t get out much, and that’s just how the Hawkeyes like it.

Conceived by both schools in 2010, the trophy is named after Iowa State’s former two-time NCAA champion wrestler, and the University of Iowa’s 15-time NCAA champion coach.

It represents bragging rights for the team that wins the annual intrastate battle, and it has made its home in Iowa City since it was placed on the table three years ago.

On Sunday, Iowa presents its case to retain guardianship when the fourth-ranked Hawkeyes meet No. 15 Iowa State at 2 p.m. (CT) inside Hilton Coliseum.

“This is always something you point to on the calendar,” said UI head coach Tom Brands. “I know they point to it, and we’ve got to be ready to roll. It’s a test, it’s important to our program, and it’s another step in the season.”

Iowa has won nine straight overall in the series, including a 32-3 win last year at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, the largest margin of victory in the series since 1996. The Hawkeyes won 9-of-10 bouts, and their dominance was highlighted by a 33-3 advantage in takedowns.

Iowa lists seven wrestlers from that dual on Sunday’s probable lineup. Iowa State lists six, but this year’s differences outweigh the similarities from last season.

The Cyclones were winless and unranked when they visited Carver-Hawkeye Arena a year ago. This year they’re 5-0 overall, 4-0 when wrestling at home, and ranked No. 15.

“I don’t think any of that means anything,” said senior 133-pounder Tony Ramos, who is 3-0 all-time against the Cyclones. “You always have to be ready to go regardless of past success. You have to prepare, and we’re getting ready the same as we would for any other team.”

Iowa’s lineup is veteran laden, including three seniors with No. 1 billing by their name – Ramos, Derek St. John and Ethen Lofthouse. But the Hawkeyes are not without inexperience.

Cory Clark is a freshman, and Josh Dziewa has just five dual starts to his credit — which is the same number of combined duals between potential starters Terrance Jean-Jacques and Kris Klapprodt.

Michael Kelly and Nick Moore are familiar with anti-Hawkeye sentiment, but on Sunday they’ll be making their first appearance inside Hilton Coliseum — a place that drew 7,000-plus in 2011.

“It’s not something we talk about or dwell on,” said Brands, “but it is something that is engrained in good wresters — focus on your match, focus on scoring points, and focus on what you do best regardless of circumstances, referees, hostile crowds, anything that might derail you. You have to be a cool customer in those situations.

“You need to be an expert in your preparations and emotions, and if you’re not you need to learn how to deal with it. Either way we’re going to be better after this.”

Only one time has the Gable trophy left Iowa City limits — a quick round-trip visit to Ames in 2011 — and the thought of leaving it behind on Sunday is not an option for some.

“Winning this dual is important,” said Ramos. “Rivalry trophies are always fun to take home, and you want to keep those things here.”