Feb. 11, 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.
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Put an asterisk by Tony Ramos’ 34-0 wrestling record inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. To hear Brody Grothus tell it, Ramos should actually have one more victory — or at least a big assist — and it occurred Sunday, two weight classes after Iowa’s popular 133-pounder left Mediacom Mat for a final time.
It was Senior Day for the University of Iowa on Sunday, and Ramos, a senior, posted a 6-1 win over Michigan sophomore Rossi Bruno at 133; senior Derek St. John defeated Wolverine freshman Brian Murphy 3-1 at 157.
On a day for the veterans, an underclassman known for big moves shined on the big stage. The highest-scoring, most-exciting bout during the Hawkeyes’ 26-6 dual victory was turned in by Grothus, a sophomore, who came from four points down in the second period to defeat Michigan senior Eric Grajales, 17-14, in overtime. Grajales is a three-time NCAA qualifier who was in the Big Ten tournament finals as a freshman.
“I don’t want to focus on me that much because it is their day. Tony Ramos is one of the biggest leaders in our room, that is no secret, along with Derek St. John. Derek St. John is a leader by example, Tony Ramos is vocal and he also leads by example.”
UI 149-pound wrestler
How did Ramos factor into the decision?
Near the end of the 149-pound match, both wrestlers were exhausted and Grothus was having trouble moving his feet. When he looked to his coaches for guidance, he saw only a blur and heard nothing over the Carver-Hawkeye Arena crowd of 8,358. Grothus scanned the stands, picking out faces of his father and brother.
Then he saw Ramos.
“You compile those things and they give you the little extra push,” Grothus said. “Seeing Tony Ramos’ face honestly gave me a little bit of boost.”
The face of Ramos — with 109 wins and two top-three NCAA finishes — is currently the face of the Hawkeye wrestling program.
“That guy is the epitome of an Iowa wrestler,” Grothus said of Ramos. “When you look over there and you see him behind you and he is on your team, you want to be like Tony Ramos. That’s what pushed me over the edge.”
The thrilling victory by Grothus was one of eight for Iowa, improving its dual record to 13-2 overall, 6-1 in the Big Ten Conference. If the Hawkeyes defeat Wisconsin in Madison on Feb. 23, they will share the league dual title with Minnesota and Penn State.
“That was a pretty loud building (during Grothus’) match,” UI head coach Tom Brands said. “He dodged some bullets there, but he also learned as the match went on; we got a little bit smarter on top. We weren’t throwing legs in where the guy could throw us off to the side. We weren’t as high and we got some back points a couple times, too, so that will win you some big matches.”
The 17 points scored by Grothus equaled the point total amassed by Mike Evans for the Hawkeyes at 174 pounds. As you would imagine, Brands likes seeing his wrestlers put up big scores.
“If it’s going to be 3-2, make it 13-12,” Brands said.
In the case of Grothus, make it 17-14. And it snapped a three-match losing skid that included bouts against competitors ranked No. 3, 4, and 5 in the nation. Grajales was rated seventh.
“I don’t want to focus on me that much because it is their day,” Grothus said. “Tony Ramos is one of the biggest leaders in our room, that is no secret, along with Derek St. John. Derek St. John is a leader by example, Tony Ramos is vocal and he also leads by example.”
Iowa returns to the road for a Valentine’s Day battle against Lehigh (8-5) in Stabler Arena in Bethlehem, Pa. The dual is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. (CT).