Jan. 13, 2016
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Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide. To receive daily news from the Iowa Hawkeyes, sign up HERE.
By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — “Is this what a record-breaking performance does?” University of Iowa head wrestling coach Tom Brands asked a larger-than-usual crowd of media Tuesday in the Dan Gable Wrestling Complex. “It brings everybody in?”
The Wisconsin Badgers hope so.
No. 2 Iowa’s first outing following a historic 54-0 victory at Northwestern will be Friday in Madison, Wisconsin, and the Badgers moved the dual from the UI Field House to the Kohl Center (capacity 17,230).
The Hawkeyes are 10-0 overall and 4-0 in the Big Ten Conference. Their most lopsided conference victory in program history occurred Jan. 10 at Northwestern.
“We want to win big matches in big settings,” Brands said. “Our poster says ‘always on the big stage.’ If we’re always on the big stage then we need to start believing that at every weight class.”
Wisconsin (1-3, 0-2) features nationally ranked competitors at 133 pounds (Ryan Taylor is No. 5), 165 (Isaac Jordan is No. 3), and 174 (Ricky Robertson is No. 20). The Hawkeyes counter with eight ranked and three undefeated wrestlers. Junior Thomas Gilman is 14-0 at 125, sophomore Brandon Sorensen is 16-0 at 149, and senior Nathan Burak is 14-0 at 197.
Gilman, who has victories by bonus points in 12 of 14 matches, is haunted by his final two bouts at the 2015 Midlands Championships: a 4-1 win over No. 16 Joshua Rodriguez of North Dakota State in the semifinals, and a 5-1 win over No. 6 Ronnie Rios of Oregon State in the finals.
“It is a close-to-home schedule, but wherever you’re going to compete, you have to go compete. The one thing about Iowa fans is they always show up and they even show up in places where it’s kind of hostile. There is no doubt we hear them.”
UI wrestling coach
“Winning breeds confidence, but there is also domination,” Gilman said. “I have been pretty dominant, but not as dominant as I could be.”
So far, Iowa’s road schedule has been travel-friendly for Hawkeye fans who have already trekked in masses to Iowa State, Illinois, and Northwestern. It is unknown if potential crowd size factored into the Badgers moving Friday’s home meet to the Kohl Center after attracting less than 800 for a dual a week ago against Nebraska.
“It is a close-to-home schedule, but wherever you’re going to compete, you have to go compete,” Brands said. “The one thing about Iowa fans is they always show up and they even show up in places where it’s kind of hostile. There is no doubt we hear them.”
Gilman had an interesting theory about Wisconsin’s change of venue.
“We draw a lot of fans every place we wrestle,” Gilman said. “I don’t know if they want to watch their team wrestle or if they want to watch Iowa dominate their team.”
As a competitor, Brands is No. 2 on Iowa’s all-time win list with 158, four less than Wisconsin head coach Barry Davis.
“I have a good relationship with Barry,” Brands said. “He used to hand me my lunch a lot and he taught me a lot of wrestling. He was one of the icons when I was growing up. There is a lot of history there that brings back good memories.
“Probably the biggest jump my wrestling took was during the time period I trained side-by-side with the bad Barry Davis.”
The Kohl Center was site of the 2014 Big Ten Championships. Iowa was runner-up to Penn State by 4 ½ points; Cory Clark was fourth at 125 and Burak was fifth at 197. Friday’s dual is the first wrestling event hosted by Kohl Center since that 2014 tournament. The only other dual held there was Nov. 21, 2008 (Iowa State 27, Wisconsin 7).
Iowa leads the all-time series against the Badgers 75-8-3 with 35 wins in the last 36 meetings. Friday’s dual begins at 8 p.m. (CT) and will be televised by BTN.