Dec. 8, 2015
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By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa will face its third nationally ranked wrestling team Thursday when No. 11 Rutgers comes to Carver-Hawkeye Arena with a 7 p.m. (CT) start.
The Scarlet Knights are 9-1 in dual meets with wins over No. 7 Cornell University, No. 13 North Carolina, No. 18 Oregon State, and No. 25 Northern Iowa. UI head coach Tom Brands says Rutgers is under-ranked and off the radar.
“We’re getting ready for a good team coming in here, we aren’t looking at anything other than that,” Brands said Tuesday during a news conference in the Dan Gable Wrestling Complex. “There is a (19-day) break (from competition) coming up, but these guys are all about the business and getting ready for another ranked team coming in that is a pretty good team. We have to be ready to go.”
Iowa is 7-0 and ranked No. 2 in the country with ranked competitors at six weight classes. Both teams have ranked wrestlers at 125 and 133 pounds. Hawkeye junior Thomas Gilman is No. 2 and Rutgers junior Sean McCabe is No. 18 at 125; Iowa junior Cory Clark is No. 2 and Scarlet Kinghts freshman Anthony Giraldo is No. 17 at 133.
The Hawkeyes are ranked at 149 (sophomore Brandon Sorensen is second), 174 (junior Alex Meyer is third), 184 (junior Sammy Brooks is eighth), and 197 (senior Nathan Burak is fourth). Burak did not compete during Iowa’s 28-15 victory over South Dakota State on Dec. 4.
“Burak will be in the lineup. We were careful with him last time, we didn’t need him. He could have gone, but he will definitely be in the lineup this week.”
UI wrestling coach
“Burak will be in the lineup,” Brands said. “We were careful with him last time, we didn’t need him. He could have gone, but he will definitely be in the lineup this week.”
Rutgers counters with ranked wrestlers at 141 (Anthony Ashnault is third), 157 (Richie Lewis, 17th), 165 (Anthony Perrotti, 12th), and 285 (Billy Smith, sixth).
“They are coming in here trying to make a statement in our arena,” said Brooks, who is undefeated in seven bouts this season. “We’re going to have to wrestle hard and keep doing what we have been doing well and improve on things we haven’t.”
This will be Iowa’s second Big Ten dual of the season and the first for Rutgers. The Hawkeyes, who have won 13 consecutive league duals, defeated Maryland, 36-9, on Nov. 20. Rutgers and Maryland joined the Big Ten in 2014-15.
“They make the east coast more relevant,” Brands said. “Penn State is east coast, but these guys are really east coast. We welcome them into the Big Ten.”
Brands said the Hawkeyes continue to work on imposing their style on opponents, because no one is going to lay down for them.
Last season Gilman defeated McCabe by technical fall at 125. That is the only potential rematch from last season’s 27-9 victory by Iowa. The Hawkeyes won, 33-9, in 2009.
“Every match is a challenge,” Gilman said. “Every time I go out there is something to prove, whether it’s the No. 1 guy in the nation or a guy that is not ranked. I have to prove to myself, opponent, and country that I’m the best.”
The Hawkeyes return to action from Dec. 29-30 at Midlands Championships in Evanston, Illinois.