March 20, 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
OKLAHOMA CITY — Two impressive winning streaks highlight the junior season for Bobby Telford as the University of Iowa heavyweight prepares for his third appearance in the NCAA Championships.
Telford, from Hockessin, Del., won is first 11 matches — five in a row by fall; he takes a four-match winning streak into today’s first-round matchup against A.J. Vizcarrondo of West Virginia inside the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Telford is coming off his second-straight third-place finish in the Big Ten Conference Tournament. He quietly and methodically dismantled Alex White of Purdue, Nick Travanello of Ohio State, Mike McMullan of Northwestern, and Mike McClure of Michigan State for bronze in 2014. The consecutive victories began after a 2-0 loss to two-time defending national champion Tony Nelson of Minnesota in the quarterfinal round.
“He had to put together a string of matches against a gauntlet of heavyweights,” UI head coach Tom Brands said. “He stayed poised. I don’t know how happy he is, I like how his demeanor is.”
The catch is that Telford’s most recent streak came in the consolation round of Big Tens, not the easiest chore — especially mentally — for a competitor who has been ranked as high as No. 1 in the nation this season.
“I love the postseason, I love the bright lights. After you get that first match in you have to keep it going. You can’t come out sluggish — this is the national finals. Everyone is peaking for this, it’s not where someone is sore from the weekend before.”
UI junior heavyweight Bobby Telford
“It’s who you are, what you have always been about, how you’re raised, and how this program is,” Telford said. “That’s not what we’re about, that’s not what I’m about. It’s not our style (to quit), it’s not my style.”
In the days from conference to nationals, Telford had time to dissect his most recent performance that included back-to-back wins over heavyweights ranked in the top seven in the country. He said there is building to do. He is disappointed that points were left on the mat, especially in light of the Hawkeyes’ runner-up team finish, 5 ½ points behind champion Penn State. Major decisions against White and Tavanello could have been falls.
“Those are the kind of things that are big in a tournament like this,” Telford said. “Not just for the team, but also for yourself.”
Turning it on in the postseason is nothing new to Telford. He became an All-American as a freshman, placing fifth in St. Louis. Last season he rolled in his opening match at the NCAA Tournament in Des Moines, Iowa, dominating Joe Stolfi of Bucknell, 8-1. A knee injury sustained during that match forced Telford to withdraw from the tournament. He is seeded fifth this season with a 22-5 record.
“I love the postseason, I love the bright lights. After you get that first match in you have to keep it going. You can’t come out sluggish — this is the national finals,” Telford said. “Everyone is peaking for this, it’s not where someone is sore from the weekend before.”
Telford has faced 14 of the 33 heavyweights who qualified for the 2014 NCAA Tournament, compiling an 18-12 record against the elite competition. This is his first meeting against Vizcarrondo. He has history against nine of the top 10-seeded heavyweights who will compete in Oklahoma City.
“There haven’t been many kids in the country up high in the rankings I haven’t wrestled,” Telford said. “You can talk about our schedule. I have wrestled everyone in the Big Ten and I’m confident in what I can do. The season backs up your performance.”
Session I of the NCAA Championships begins at 11 a.m. (CT) with pigtail and first-round bouts. Action resumes at 6 p.m. with the championship second round and the first round of wrestlebacks.