Sky Isn't Falling on Iowa Wrestling

Jan. 28, 2014

Iowa Prepares for Northwestern

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    By JAMES ALLAN
    hawkeyesports.com

    IOWA CITY, Iowa — The sky isn’t falling for the third-ranked University of Iowa wrestling team, but UI head coach Tom Brands is eager to see how the Hawkeyes respond Friday at No. 19 Northwestern following its 19-15 home loss to No. 4 Minnesota.

    “How do they respond? We’ll find out,” Brands said Tuesday inside the Dan Gable Wrestling Complex. “We have guys we believe in. We like our team and wouldn’t trade them for anybody, but let’s get rid of the slop.”

    The “slop” Brands is referring to is the alarming trend of Iowa going to its back seven times in the dual loss to the Gophers on Jan. 25 in Iowa City. At 125 pounds, unranked Sam Brancale caught Iowa’s Thomas Gilman for a first-period fall, and at 157 pounds, No. 14 Dylan Ness reversed No. 2 Derek St. John to his back to rally for a 7-4 victory.

    “We have guys we believe in. We like our team and wouldn’t trade them for anybody, but let’s get rid of the slop.”
    UI head coach Tom Brands

    “You can’t go to your back seven times as a team and feel good about the day,” said Brands.

    Senior 133-pounder Tony Ramos says individual losses, although tough, can be beneficial if used the right way.

    “Any time you lose it helps you know where your weaknesses are,” he said. “It’s not fun losing, but it shows you what you need to do and work on.

    “You have to keep moving forward, but use it to learn, and get better. Gilman learned he has to get ready to go every time out and St. John got to feel Ness’ funkiness. You can’t dwell on those losses, things happen, and you get caught.”

    There is a new No. 1 ranked heavyweight by InterMat and Amateur Wrestling News (AWN) — Iowa’s Bobby Telford. The junior moved up to the top of the rankings by way of a 3-1 victory over Minnesota’s two-time defending NCAA champion Tony Nelson on Jan. 25. It’s an accomplishment that Telford doesn’t put much stock in.

    “It doesn’t affect me at all, I don’t really look at the polls,” said Telford, who has seven victories over top-20 opponents this season. “That’s why there are 3-or-4 (sets of rankings), everyone has their own opinion.”

    Telford resumes a murder’s row stretch when he faces Northwestern’s Mike McMullan — ranked No. 1 by WIN Magazine and No. 3 by InterMat. Telford will then face a third elite opponent, squaring off against Michigan’s second-ranked Adam Coon on Feb. 9.

    “It’s the Big Ten season, so it’s one after another of quality guys,” said Telford, who is 1-1 all-time against McMullen, winning 4-2 in 2011 at the Midlands and falling 7-5 in overtime in the 2012 dual. “You have to be ready to go.”

    Along with the marquee bout at heavyweight, Friday’s dual will feature ranked wrestlers at four additional weight classes: 149 (No. 12 Brody Grothus vs. No. 4 Jason Tsirtsis), 165 (No. 4 Nick Moore vs. No. 7 Pierce Harger), 174 (No. 5 Mike Evans vs. No. 13 Robert Coukos) and 197 (No. 13 Nathan Burak vs. No. 15 Alex Polizzi) pounds.

    The dual will begin at 7 p.m. (CT) from Welsh-Ryan Arena, and it will be streamed via the Big Ten Digital Network at BTN.com. The Hawkeyes have won eight-straight in the series and hold a 68-7-1 advantage all-time.