Jan. 20, 2015
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By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — There won’t be a large number of marquee head-to-head bouts Friday when the top-ranked University of Iowa wrestling team hosts No. 19 Northwestern, but when ranked competitors collide, it will be worth the price of admission.
The undefeated Hawkeyes (9-0 overall, 4-0 in the Big Ten) have won 13 straight dual meets and seven in a row on Mediacom Mat inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Next up is Northwestern (9-4, 1-3), a team with a lineup sprinkled with elite performers at their respective weight classes: sophomore Jason Tsirtsis, the defending national champion at 149 pounds, senior Pierce Harger at 165, and senior heavyweight Mike McMullan. Tsirtsis is ranked No. 1 in the country, Harger is No. 5, and McMullan is No. 4.
“We’ll see a national champion at 149, and a guy that we owe at 165 who just had a big win against Indiana,” UI head coach Tom Brands said Tuesday at a media gathering in the Dan Gable Wrestling Complex. “We’ll see two titans wrestling at heavyweight, then we’ll have seven other weights that we have to be ready for. They’re not going to lie down.”
Hawkeye freshman Brandon Sorensen (No. 3) will put his 23-2 record up against Tsirtsis. One of the three career losses for Tsirtsis came against Iowa’s Brody Grothus at the 2013 Midlands Championships.
UI senior Nick Moore (13-4), who is rated No. 9, will face Harger at 165. Moore was 3-0 all-time against Harger before losing 8-5 at the 2014 Midlands Championship. Top-ranked UI senior Bobby Telford is 3-3 in collegiate matches against McMullan, including a 4-2 decision in the finals of the 2014 Midlands Championships.
It will be the first match for Moore since competing at Ohio State on Jan. 4.
“We have seen progress and healing,” Brands said of Moore. “If he feels good then I feel good and he feels good.”
Since last facing Harger, Moore is 2-3.
Sorenen has won six straight matches, a streak that includes victories against No. 2 Josh Kindig of Oklahoma State and No. 5 Hunter Stieber of Ohio State.
“He has been solid since he got here and we like what he brings,” Brands said of Sorensen. “He can help himself even more with a little more urgency.”
Brands closed his interview with a game plan that was crafted for his entire lineup, not just Sorensen:
“We have to assert ourselves in the beginning and don’t let things in the end rattle us.”
UI Big Ten and NCAA champion Jay Borschel is an assistant coach for the Wildcats.
“They’re going to come in here with another Hawkeye coach that wants to do damage,” Brands said.
Iowa leads the all-time series, 69-7-1. The Hawkeyes have won nine straight against Northwestern and own an all-time mark of 30-4 in Iowa City.
Friday’s dual will begin at 7 p.m. (CT) and will be broadcast on AM 800 KXIC and streamed online at hawkeyesports.com. A live video stream will be provided by BTN Plus on BTN2GO.