Jan. 14, 2014
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By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — University of Iowa head wrestling coach Tom Brands says the Hawkeyes need to be prepared to walk into a hornet’s nest Saturday with the importance placed on the dual in Lincoln.
“With the border rivalry, there is significance to Nebraska, to us, and to both of the fan bases,” Brands said during a Tuesday media session. “We will be walking into a hornet’s nest, but I know we’ll have a lot of friends in that hornet’s nest too.
“The last time it was a rambunctious crowd for Nebraska, but we had our fans as well and that’s what we need.”
The third-ranked Hawkeyes (10-1, 3-0) face the eighth-ranked Cornhuskers (8-0, 2-0) at 4:30 p.m. (CT) inside the Bob Devaney Center.
“There are a lot of positives, but that doesn’t mean everything is smoothed out here. We have to continue to be forward-minded. Our mindset has to be we have a challenge every time we step out on the mat, and we have to meet that challenge doing the things we do best.”
UI head coach Tom Brands
Brands says Iowa’s focus is solely on Nebraska even with the dual being sandwiched between matchups against No. 5 Oklahoma State and No. 2 Minnesota on Jan. 25.
“If you look at the schedule too far ahead it can sidetrack you, but if you can take it one match at a time and get ready, that’s your best chance,” said Brands. “We have guys that do a good job of that. We’re heading in the right direction for the most part; we just have to keep a good thing going.”
Top-ranked 157-pounder Derek St. John, the only returning national champion to not have suffered a defeat this season, will once again be involved in the dual’s marquee match.
After knocking off Oklahoma State’s second-ranked Alex Dieringer, 3-2, Jan. 10, St. John will now meet the undefeated and third-ranked James Green, the wrestler who handed St. John his last defeat, a 5-4 decision, at the 2013 Big Ten Championships.
“We have to get our hands on him, and we don’t want to be in a position where we’re chasing him,” said Brands. “We didn’t have a good match (last year) at the Big Tens. We have to go out and wrestle the way we wrestle best, close the gap, go early, go often and keep going.”
“We have two good guys there, and we love them both,” said Brands. “These guys are our future at 125 and 133 pounds; we have to keep them both dialed in.
“This is not something that the decision is made in any way, shape or form. That may cause a controversy, but not to these guys, they both know they belong in there.”
With a Midlands title and four dual wins since its only loss of the season — a 24-12 setback to No. 1 Penn State — Brands says there are a lot good things happening inside the walls of the Dan Gable Wrestling Complex, but the team needs to focus on continuing to move forward.
“There are a lot of positives, but that doesn’t mean everything is smoothed out here,” said Brands. “We have to continue to be forward-minded. Our mindset has to be we have a challenge every time we step out on the mat, and we have to meet that challenge doing the things we do best.”
Saturday’s dual will be televised on the Big Ten Network with Tim Johnson, Jim Gibbons and Shane Sparks on the call.