Nov. 14, 2015
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By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Unlike 42,287 others in Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, University of Iowa junior Sammy Brooks prefers not to watch wrestling.
The Hawkeye 184-pounder loves the sport, it’s just that he would rather participate, not spectate.
A 17-2 technical fall by Brooks over Oklahoma State junior Jordan Rogers provided five key points for the No. 4 Hawkeyes during a season-opening 18-16 upset of top-ranked Oklahoma State at the Grapple on the Gridiron. The outdoor dual drew an NCAA record crowd on a sunny and 53 degree day in Iowa City.
The result by Brooks came at an opportune time. The Cowboys had won three consecutive bouts to take a 13-10 lead with three matches to go. After his victory — and in a reversal from routine — Brooks returned matside to watch teammates Nathan Burak at 197 and Sam Stoll at 285.
“I usually don’t go out and watch after my match, but I did, and I don’t really like it,” Brooks said. “I got pretty nervous out there even though I have supreme confidence in Burak and Sam Stoll. I think I am better off in the locker room.”
Brooks was a national qualifier last season, finishing 29-7, but missed becoming an All-American by one match. His first dual loss last season was to Nolan Boyd of Oklahoma State, 9-6. Boyd, who is 6-2 on the season, bumped up to 197 and Oklahoma State went with No. 15 Jordan Rogers, who was 8-0.
“My hope was that we win 184,” said Oklahoma State head coach John Smith, “but it wasn’t close,”
“I usually don’t go out and watch after my match, but I did, and I don’t really like it. I got pretty nervous out there even though I have supreme confidence in Burak and Sam Stoll. I think I am better off in the locker room.”
UI junior 184 pounder
Brooks used four takedowns and eight nearfall points to win by technical fall in 4 minutes, 9 seconds. That gave Iowa a 15-13 edge with Burak up, Stoll on deck, and Brooks in the cheering section.
“When I’m wrestling it’s on me,” Brooks said. “When I’m watching, I feel anything can happen no matter how confident I am. Burak and Stoll are hammers and I’m not worried about them, but it doesn’t matter who is wrestling, I still get nervous.”
There was no need for the Oak Park, Illinois, native to be apprehensive. Burak defeated Boyd, 5-3, and although Stoll dropped a 6-1 decision to No. 5 Austin Marsden, the Hawkeyes won the dual — Iowa’s third straight win in the series.
Brooks scored bonus points in 62 percent of his wins last season: eight by major decision, seven by fall, and three by technical fall.
“You should be looking for bonus points every time you go out there,” Brooks said. “Sometimes last year I was a little too reserved and I want to open it back up and keep that going against whoever steps on the mat against me.”
UI head coach Tom Brands improved to 164-16-1 in duals, 1-0 in duals contested inside football stadiums. A perpetual advocate of widening the gap and winning big, Brands had a twinkle in his eye when talking about his 184-pounder.
“Brooks gave us bonus points, a five-point win team-wise, that’s big,” Brands said. “The way that he was wrestling, hitting those holds, that’s what we want. He can do that against anybody, his consistency is that good. I’ve said that for a long time.”
Despite the electric nature of the historic Grapple on the Gridiron, Brooks won’t have trouble getting energized for the Iowa City Duals on Nov. 20 — in Carver-Hawkeye Arena, not Kinnick Stadium.
“We’ll walk out of Kinnick Stadium and then it’s on to Iowa City Duals,” he said. “You have to have a short memory for good and bad. You don’t want to dwell on things too long.”