Rolling out the Welcome Mat

Oct. 20, 2014

Oct. 20, 2014


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 — Goodbye cross trainers, hello wrestling shoes and head gear.

The University of Iowa wrestling team opened the 2014-15 season with its first official practice Oct. 10, and one week into training the Hawkeyes unanimously agree, it’s great to get into a mat routine.

“It feels good to get in here with the guys,” redshirt freshman Brandon Sorensen said from inside the Dan Gable Wrestling Complex. “We’ve been in here on our own prior to the season, but it feels good that it is actually starting.”

“Starting” — as in more scrapping on the mat, and less sprinting up hills. The Hawkeyes spend a large portion of the offseason improving their conditioning. That includes short sprints, long runs, and all-terrain climbs.


They wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t beneficial. But that does not mean it is preferred.

“It’s good to be wrestling,” said sophomore Sammy Brooks. “A lot of times in the preseason we’re just running, but now we get to wrestle and scrap. This is what we do. We go for the season, and you can tell as the season turns the intensity turns up and everyone gets more excited.”

Brooks is the front-runner to fill the 184-pound weight class left vacated by two-time All-American Ethen Lofthouse. Brooks was 18-7 in limited time last year, placing sixth at Midlands and challenging Lofthouse for a spot on the postseason lineup. The final decision did not lean in Brooks’ favor, and he has been itching to get back in the room ever since.

“I thought I should have had the spot, but I should have worked for it,” said Brooks. “That was motivation last year. This year the motivation comes from a different place. The motivation now is to go out and win a national title.”

Another Hawkeye left out of last year’s postseason lineup was 125-pounder Thomas Gilman. Gilman won 16 matches a year ago, including a Midlands title, while sharing time with Cory Clark. Clark eventually earned All-America honors. Gilman went on to win a bronze medal at the Junior World Championships. He spent most of his summer training with the Hawkeye Wrestling Club, and was eager to open the door for the upcoming college season.

“I like seeing my teammates here every day,” said Gilman. “Sometimes it gets a little lonely, especially in the summer when me it’s me, Metcalf, Ramos, and training partners. When we get everyone in here it’s lively. There is a lot of scrapping, a lot of action and noise, and it feels good. It’s a good atmosphere and guys are working hard. I like a lot of people in here and a lot of people working hard.”

Freshman heavyweight Sam Stoll, who finished his Minnesota prep career with two-state titles and 63 consecutive pins, is getting his first hands-on experience of life inside the Hawkeye wrestling room.

“You know what you sign up for before you get here,” said Stoll. “You know you’re going to work hard. That’s what I expected coming in and that’s what I’m getting.

“It’s going good. Getting after it, scrapping, and having a good time.”

The good times continue Nov. 15 when Iowa opens the season at the Luther Open in Decorah, Iowa. The home schedule opens the following week with the Iowa City Duals on Nov. 21. Iowa State visits Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Nov. 29, and Michigan State is in town for the Big Ten opener Dec. 6. Contact the UI Athletics Ticket Office for season ticket information.

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