Jan. 14, 2015
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By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Not much went wrong for the University of Iowa wrestling team in its 30-7 victory at No. 8 Oklahoma State — its largest win in Stillwater in 20 years — but UI head coach Tom Brands sees room for improvement.
“There was a little bit of sloppiness, things you can tighten up to make it even go more our way,” Brands said Wednesday while meeting with reporters inside the Dan Gable Wrestling Complex. “We want to keep getting better, and we’re not going to pat ourselves on the back.
“We’ll take it for what it’s worth and move forward.”
The first step in moving forward comes Friday when the Hawkeyes welcome No. 11 Illinois to Mediacom Mat for a 7 p.m. (CT) dual. The dual will feature six, possibly seven matches, between ranked foes depending on the status of defending 125-pound national champion Jesse Delgado.
Brands says fifth-ranked Thomas Gilman will be ready to go regardless of who steps on the mat at 125 pounds.
“I don’t know anything about Delgado’s status,” said Brands. “We’re ready for him just like we’re ready for the other guy (Dominic Olivieri). We have to be ready that they’re going to run him out on the mat when it’s go time.
“We’re going to see him at Big Tens and NCAAs or at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday night. It doesn’t matter where or when it is, we’re going to be ready. If he’s the guy on the mat then we have to go out and take something from him.”
Delgado is 2-0 this season, but hasn’t wrestled since Nov. 9 due to an undisclosed injury. Gilman is 1-2 in his career against Delgado, winning the most recent decision, 3-1, in the semifinals of the 2013 Midlands Championships.
The dual will also feature ranked bouts at 133 pounds (No. 4 Cory Clark vs. No. 3 Zane Richards), 141 (No. 8 Josh Dziewa vs. No. 13 Steven Rodriguez), 157 (No. 15 Michael Kelly vs. No. 5 Isaiah Martinez), 165 (No. 9 Nick Moore vs. No. 8 Jackson Morse), 174 (No. 2 Mike Evans vs. No. 6 Zac Brunson), and 184 (No. 8 Sammy Brooks vs. No. 20 Nikko Reyes).
“We have some opportunities in this dual that are going to impact national rankings and Big Ten and national seedings,” said Brands. “Every event is important to get ready for.”
Brands says the verdict is still out on how good the 2015 Hawkeyes can be or how they stack up against Iowa’s most recent national championship teams of 2008, 2009, and 2010.
“I don’t know yet,” said Brands. “That time will be told along the way and Friday night is another evaluation. We have to keep doing what we’re doing from a winning point of view and add to that by slamming the door in situations where it’s a total team effort.”
Brands likes what he has heard from his wrestlers in holding each other accountable.
“Gilman said some good things in some of his interviews about the 184-pound match (a Sammy Brooks loss at Oklahoma State),” said Brands. “There was an article about Telford, and he wasn’t talking about himself, he was talking about the program and his teammates.
“That’s what I like about this team is there is a lot of back-up amongst each other.”
As for how Iowa compares to the title teams?
“Those 2008, 2009, and 2010 teams had a lot of firepower,” said Brands. “If we can keep it going and stay consistent where we’ve been and bring it up a little bit, we can put ourselves in that conversation.”
Friday’s dual will be televised on Mediacom-22 with Rob Brooks and Mike Duroe on the call.