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Nov. 25, 2014
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By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — On a University of Iowa wrestling schedule full of challenges, the one Saturday is circled.
It’s Iowa-Iowa State competing in the Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series with the Dan Gable Traveling Trophy on the line. Since its inception in 2010, the trophy has stayed in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes lead the all-time series 62-16-2 and have won 10 in a row.
“It’s always important to us. It’s big,” UI head coach Tom Brands said Tuesday inside the Dan Gable Wrestling Complex. “They point to it. The schedule is highlighted. It doesn’t matter how relevant it is from a ranking point of view. We were 1 and 2 a couple times in the last eight or nine years. Both programs strive to get there. How big is the rivalry? We’ll see how big it is when the fans show up.”
Neither team has suffered a dual hiccup this season. Iowa, ranked No. 1 in the NWCA/USA Today Division I Coaches poll, is 3-0; Iowa State, ranked No. 15, is 4-0.
“I know it’s important to both programs and we want to keep moving forward,” Brands said. “That means we have to be ready to go. This is our arena and there is nothing better than competing in front of these fans when you do your job. There is nothing worse than competing in front of them if you don’t do your job. So let’s do our job. Let’s have a big party, a big celebration.”
Action is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. (CT) on Mediacom Mat inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Iowa won last season in Ames, 23-9.
“I know it’s important to both programs and we want to keep moving forward. That means we have to be ready to go. This is our arena and there is nothing better than competing in front of these fans when you do your job. There is nothing worse than competing in front of them if you don’t do your job. So let’s do our job. Let’s have a big party, a big celebration.”
UI wrestling coach
Five of the potential bouts feature ranked wrestlers, including No. 3 Michael Moreno (Iowa State) versus No. 4 Nick Moore (Iowa) at 165 pounds. Moore came out on top in the dual last year, 3-1.
“Two seniors, two guys that are after the same thing,” Brands said. “Neither guy has won a national title yet. I know they feel good about their guy, we feel good about our guy, so let the fur fly. Let the fur fly in all of them.”
The other matchups of two ranked wrestlers could come at 133, 174, 184, and 197. At 133, Iowa sophomore Cory Clark and Iowa State junior Earl Hall both earned All-America honors at 125 in 2014 (Clark was fifth, Hall was eighth). Both wrestlers moved up a weight where Clark is ranked fourth and Hall is 14th.
“Last year it was one of those crazy matches that we had to get gutsy to win it,” Brands said of Clark’s 8-7 victory. “The national tournament was a big match as well. One thing about Cory Clark is he will give you everything he has.”
The Hawkeyes have three talented competitors vying for the starting spot at 149, but after two tournaments, there is no clear favorite. Junior Brody Grothus is 10-1, junior Edwin Cooper, Jr., is 7-3, and freshman Brandon Sorensen is 9-1.
Brands said whoever steps on the mat against the Cyclones on Saturday is a better option than “a couple years ago” when Iowa had a weight class where names were drawn from a hat and coins were flipped to find “the guy.”
“We have three good guys, this isn’t an issue where they are fourth, fifth, or sixth at the Luther Open,” Brands said. “This is an issue where all three of the guys can do the job, they all want to do it, and all three believe they can. It is a matter of who is going to be the guy to emerge and distance himself. We want to see separation there. Let’s kick some tail.”
Brands, who is 9-0 as head coach in the rivalry, has fond memories of the dual’s history. He recalled the names Royce Alger, Brooks Simpson, Lincoln McIlravy, Chris Bono, and watching the action on Iowa Public Television.
“Seeing the gods of wrestling compete in both arenas,” Brands said.
Another exciting chapter will be recorded Saturday.