Jan. 21, 2014
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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.
By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — It would be difficult to select a newcomer of the year on the University of Iowa wrestling team, but redshirt freshman Sammy Brooks is making his case.
The Hawkeyes have received production this season from rookies Thomas Gilman and Cory Clark at 125 pounds, Josh Dwieza at 141, and Terrance Jean Jacques at 285. Brooks is making the most of his opportunity at 184 while senior Ethen Lofthouse recovers from injury.
Brooks concluded his first season of collegiate wrestling Jan. 26, 2013, with a 4-3 loss to T.J. Dudley of Nebraska in the finals of the Grand View Open. Fifty-one weeks later, he turned the table on the road in a varsity mat in front of a dual crowd of 3,946. Brooks used a takedown in sudden victory to defeat 11th ranked Dudley, 6-4.
“He gutted it out, good for him,” UI head coach Tom Brands said.
The win was one of seven for the Hawkeyes against No. 8 Nebraska on Jan. 18 in the Devaney Center. Iowa, ranked No. 3, improved to 11-1 overall, 4-0 in the Big Ten with the 22-9 victory. The Cornhuskers fell to 8-1, 2-1.
“I’m here to wrestle. Nobody wants to weigh in, warm up, and go through everything to not wrestle. Wrestling is a reward for making weight and getting ready. It’s a feeling of `Finally, I get to go.’ I’m going to give it my all and get as many wins as I can so I can keep doing it.”
UI 184-pound wrestler
The Hawkeyes led the dual score 13-9 when Brooks and Dudley took the mat. Nebraska was riding a wave of momentum after wins in three of the previous four matches at 149, 157, and 174. Brooks, not feeling up to par physically, switched energy in Iowa’s favor — the Hawkeyes closed with three consecutive wins.
“If I don’t come out hard, then who knows what happens at 197 and heavyweight?” said Brooks, who improved to 16-6, 5-2 in duals. “I have to go and put the hammer down. That’s what I tried to do.”
Brooks, a native of Oak Park, Ill., graduated from Oak Park-River Forest High School. He was 19-9 a year ago wrestling unattached. This season he is 14-4 in bouts at 184 with 3-2 losses to Lofthouse (ranked No. 2 at the time) and Jimmy Sheptock of Maryland (ranked No. 3 at the time). Brooks has won three matches in a row: 7-1 against No. 16 Nolan Boyd of Oklahoma State, 12-3 against Luke Sheridan of Indiana, and most recently against Dudley.
“I’m here to wrestle,” he said. “Nobody wants to weigh in, warm up, and go through everything to not wrestle. Wrestling is a reward for making weight and getting ready. It’s a feeling of `Finally, I get to go.’ I’m going to give it my all and get as many wins as I can so I can keep doing it.”
It is no surprise when Brooks gets the better of an opponent late in a match or in overtime. He prides himself on tempo and condition, as shown by his 4-0 record in sudden victory this season.
“If I wrestle seven minutes hard, there aren’t many guys who can hang with my pace,” he said.
That formula worked against Dudley, who entered the meet with a record of 20-3, 8-0 in duals.
“We knew if I kept the pressure on him that his level would eventually go down,” Brooks said. “I tried to keep my pace as high as I could, even if I wasn’t feeling as good as I have before; just trying to push through it.”
Dudley scored the first takedown, then Brooks answered with back-to-back takedowns late in the match and in overtime. He was in on several other shots that Dudley eluded.
“You get this kid to a point where you think you have him, but he is such an athlete, he explodes out and you miss a takedown,” Brooks said. “Ideally you don’t let that happen. You pick him up and put him down hard and get the takedown right away. But in a match like this, it is going to take more than one attempt.”
Iowa returns to Mediacom Mat in Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Saturday when it hosts No. 2 Minnesota with the Border Brawl Belt on the line. The dual begins at 1 p.m. (CT) and will be televised on BTN. The teams split last season, with the Hawkeyes winning 16-15 in the Big Ten dual and Minnesota winning 22-15 in the semifinals of the national duals. Both meets were held in Minneapolis.