Feb. 11, 2015
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By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Out of the mouth of an underclassman comes the Senior Night motivational gem for the top-ranked University of Iowa wrestling team.
Moments after Iowa’s 18-12 dual victory at No. 5 Penn State on Feb. 8, someone informed sophomore 125-pounder Thomas Gilman that the Hawkeyes had clinched a share of the Big Ten Conference Dual Championship.
“With who?” Gilman asked. “We don’t want to share it with anybody.”
Iowa (13-0 overall, 8-0 Big Ten) hosts No. 16 Michigan (6-5, 4-4) on Friday at 7 p.m. (CT) on Mediacom Mat with a chance to capture the title outright. The Hawkeyes are the only undefeated program in the league; Nebraska and Ohio State are 8-1. Iowa has won or shared seven of the last eight Big Ten regular season titles.
“We still have work to do and we’re in position where we don’t have to share,” UI head coach Tom Brands said Wednesday at a media gathering in the Dan Gable Wrestling Complex. “We’ll worry about the work we do and then fall where we fall.”
“It’s another dual meet,” said Kelly, who takes an 18-5 record into his 157-pound match against No. 7 Brian Murphy of the Wolverines. “I’ll look at Senior Night, senior season, and career when it’s all done. Right now there is a lot of unfished business. You have to keep going and keep pounding.
“We have a team that can run the table and win everything out there. That’s something we come here do. We don’t come here to win a share of the Big Ten title. We come to win everything outright.”
UI senior Nick Moore (16-5) will also face a top 10 opponent in Taylor Massa at 165.
“I am going to approach it like any other dual, then afterward I will sit down in my room and think about it for 30 seconds or a minute and then move on,” Moore said.
“They’re coming to do some damage. They have a heated rivalry with us in their mind, and if you look at the lineup they put out the last time out they seem to be gearing for us. We have to be ready. We get the best of everybody and always have, so good for us.”
UI wrestling coach
Five UI seniors are expected to compete against Michigan. Joining Kelly and Moore in the lineup are Dziewa at 141, Evans at 174, and Telford at 285. Those five have combined for 389 victories, nine NCAA Tournament appearances, and four All-America awards.
While Evans sticks out because his trademark mustache and Telford because of his candid responses during interviews, Brands says the real key that sets them apart is winning.
“Fans gravitate to them because of their wrestling,” Brands said. “Let’s be remembered for our wrestling.”
The senior class of 2015 will also be remembered for its growth over the last five seasons. When it arrived on campus in 2010, Sheriff Brands spent more than a few moments roping his fresh-faced doggies.
“The No. 1 thing that comes to my mind is there was a lot of damage control that we had to implement early in their careers,” Brands said. “It was kind of the Wild Wild West, and that’s a reflection of their personalities being competitors and being wild. I’m not saying wild in a bad way, we had to corral some of the extracurricular without putting the fire out of there spirit. We have done a good job of that, especially when you see how these guys have emerged as leaders.”
So far this season, the battle-tested Hawkeyes have won at No. 3 Ohio State, No. 4 Minnesota, No. 5 Penn State, and No. 7 Oklahoma State.
“Maybe we should have some credit for that, but a broken record would say wherever the date on the calendar is at that location that’s where you go,” Brands said. “Wherever you have to go, you go, and you battle. When you battle, good things happen and you hustle and your attitude is good. You have to embrace what the sport is about.”
The Hawkeyes lead the all-time series with Michigan, 30-25-1, after winning the last seven meetings. The Wolverines’ all-time 44.6 winning percentage against Iowa is the highest of any Big Ten program.
“They’re coming to do some damage,” Brands said. “They have a heated rivalry with us in their mind, and if you look at the lineup they put out the last time out they seem to be gearing for us. We have to be ready. We get the best of everybody and always have, so good for us.”