Feb. 3, 2015
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By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — It’s another two dual weekend for the top-ranked University of Iowa wrestling team and another chance for the Hawkeyes to flex their road muscles.
Iowa (11-0, 6-0) opens the weekend a Friday dual at Maryland (5-12, 0-6) at 6 p.m. (CT) before squaring off with defending NCAA champion and fifth-ranked Penn State (10-2, 6-2) on Sunday at 12 p.m. in State College.
“You have one eye on Maryland and one on Penn State right now,” said UI head coach Tom Brands during a media gathering inside the Dan Gable Wrestling Complex . “When we get on the plane for College Park, we have to be ready for Maryland. Then we’ll travel to State College and get ready for Penn State.
“Everyone talks about how Penn State might be down a little, but we have to be ready for that. Maryland is first… we can’t overlook them.”
That hasn’t been an issue for the Hawkeyes this season. Iowa has stepped up to every road challenge, winning road duals at No. 23 Rutgers (27-9), No. 7 Ohio State (18-14), No. 8 Oklahoma State (30-7), and No. 2 Minnesota (23-12).
“Some guys don’t like going on the road, they don’t like that environment. We love it, we’re the bad guys and we get to play the bad guy role.”
UI sophomore Thomas Gilman
“We have a road philosophy and we stick to it,” said Brands. “Give our guys credit for doing the job. It’s more of a tribute to them than any communication or structure we have in place. Where ever the battle is you go, and they’ve done a good job of getting ready for that.”
UI sophomore Thomas Gilman says the Hawkeyes relish being the villains when stepping into a hostile road environment.
“Some guys don’t like going on the road, they don’t like that environment,” said Gilman, who is 21-1 and ranked No. 5 at 125 pounds in all three polls. “We love it, we’re the bad guys and we get to play the bad guy role.
“At Minnesota, every time we stepped on the mat and they were saying our names, they were booing us. I like that, it feels good.”
The Hawkeyes will be favored in all 10 bouts against Maryland. Three matches — 133 (No. 3 Cory Clark vs. No. 13 Geoffrey Alexander), 141 (No. 6 Josh Dziewa vs. No. 20 Shyheim Brown), and heavyweight (No. 2 Bobby Telford vs. No. 13 Spencer Myers) — will feature ranked matches.
Penn State’s lineup looks different in 2014-15 without the David Taylors, Ed Ruths, and Quinton Wrights of the world, but the Nittany Lions still have firepower. Even without 2014 All-Americans Nico Megaludis (125) and Zain Retherford (141) — who are both redshirting — Penn State has ranked wrestlers at eight weight classes.
The marquee match will come at 174 pounds where Iowa’s No. 2 Mike Evans will face No. 3 Matt Brown. Evans is 19-0 this season and is the only remaining Hawkeye with an undefeated record. The two wrestlers have split six career meetings with Brown winning the most recent matchup, 6-3, at last season’s NCAA Championships.
“We have a task in front of us, and we have to accomplish that task,” said Gilman. “We have missions and we go out and accomplish those missions. We have to keep doing that.”
Both duals will be broadcast on AM 800 KXIC with Steven Grace and Mark Ironside on the call. Sunday’s matchup with Penn State will be televised on BTN with Tim Johnson, Jim Gibbons, and Shane Sparks having the call from the Bryce Jordan Center.