Nov. 10, 2015
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By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Redshirt freshman Logan Ryan dreamed of competing for the University of Iowa in front of nearly 16,000 wrestling fans inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
He gets his first opportunity to represent the No. 4 Hawkeyes in a singlet Saturday with a historic twist.
Ryan will be in the lineup at 141 pounds against top-ranked Oklahoma State. But instead of making his debut in Carver-Hawkeye Arena, he will compete in front of more than 33,500 inside Kinnick Stadium in the “Grapple on the Gridiron” beginning at 11 a.m. (CT).
“I will be able to lock down,” said Ryan, a two-time state champion from Bettendorf (Iowa) High School. “Before that, you’re thinking about Holy Schnikes, that’s a lot of people. But once you get out there and you strap in and go, you’re wrestling. You don’t even hear anybody, all you think about is taking the other person down.”
That “other person” for Ryan’s debut is Cowboy sophomore Dean Heil, ranked No. 1 in the country by InterMat. Heil placed fourth at the 2015 NCAA Championships; he defeated Ryan, 8-1, at the Joe Parisi Open on Nov. 22, 2014.
“He is a tough competitor,” Ryan said of Heil. “I watched film on him today and went over a lot of stuff with (associate head coach) Terry (Brands). I’m feeling good and I’m feeling positive; I’m confident and excited to wrestle him.”
“Now all the sudden, here you are on the stage with the No. 1 team in America. His challenge is big, but go out and represent yourself and have fun doing it, however you define fun.”
UI wrestling coach
Ryan has surfaced as the frontrunner at 141 following the departure of Josh Dziewa, who was runner-up in the Big Ten Conference a year ago. Ryan opened the season winning 4-of-5 bouts at the Grand View Open after going 22-6 competing unattached in 2014-15.
Hawkeye junior Topher Carton, who was 12-4 overall and 3-0 in duals last season, also competed at Grand View. He won his first two matches by fall and advanced to the semifinals with an 8-5 decision before suffering an injury in a semifinal loss. Enter Ryan, who also gets the starting nod over true freshman Vince Turk, who has been impressive in the preseason.
“We see that (Ryan) has an opportunity in front of him,” UI head coach Tom Brands said. “This is an opportunity to put the singlet on and to represent and to not look back, so let’s have a performance. The thing that goes with nerves and apprehension, those things are non-factors. If anything, they are propelling you, but they are not a deterrent. He is going to be on a big stage, but this is what he dreamed about.”
Brands referred to Ryan overcoming adversity in the off-season, when he was temporarily dismissed for violating team rules.
“Now all the sudden, here you are on the stage with the No. 1 team in America,” Brands said. “His challenge is big, but go out and represent yourself and have fun doing it, however you define fun.”
University of Iowa fans who have yet to purchase tickets to “Grapple on the Gridiron” are encouraged to do so online at hawkeyesports.com and select the “print at home” option. Tickets are $10 for general admission seating.
More than 33,500 tickets have been sold for Saturday’s dual in Kinnick Stadium. With a forecast of sunshine and 50-degree weather, the university is expecting a strong walk-up crowd for this never-before-seen event. Purchasing tickets in advance is strongly recommended.