March 5, 2016
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By DARREN MILLER
Both University of Iowa wrestlers have an opportunity for revenge Sunday in the finals of the Big Ten Conference Wrestling Championships inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Brooks, a junior, will face Nebraska’s Dudley in a 184-pound title tilt; Burak, a senior, squares off against Penn State’s Morgan McIntosh at 197. Brooks and Burak are joined in the finals by teammates Cory Clark at 133 and Brandon Sorensen at 149.
The last time Brooks and Dudley met was Jan. 24 at Nebraska in a dual Iowa won, 21-11. But the Cornhuskers scored six team points when Dudley locked a cradle and pinned Brooks in 2:46.
“I owe him one,” Brooks said. “We have wrestled a bunch of times, so it’s good. They are usually exciting matches; let’s go out there and let it fly and be smart when I’m doing it to get a title.”
In 2014, Brooks defeated Dudley, 6-4, in sudden victory. To get to the championship match, Brooks needed to exorcise demons from the 2015 Big Ten Tournament, when Penn State freshman Matt McCutcheon scored a sudden victory upset in the quarterfinals, 6-4.
Brooks cruised past McCutcheon on Saturday in the semifinals, 6-1.
“This is the fourth time in a row I’ve been in the semifinals. Every single time I lost it in overtime or really close. I told myself I’m not losing this time — I’m making it to the championship. That’s what I did, so praise the Lord.”
UI 197-pound wrestler
“I came out and took them one match at a time,” said Brooks, who also pinned Indiana’s Matt Irick and won by 8-3 decision over Kenny Courts of Ohio State. “I’m wrestling like I know how I can wrestle. When I’m focused for seven minutes, I’m hard to beat.”
Burak is 0-4 lifetime against McIntosh. But before Burak could think about a rematch against his nemesis from Penn State, he had to face Minnesota’s second-seeded Brett Pfarr, who handed Burak his only loss of this season, 6-5, during Iowa’s 34-6 dual victory over the Gophers on Jan. 29 in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
With the match tied, 1-1, in overtime, Burak got to Pfarr’s leg and finished a takedown for a 3-1 victory.
“The flurry before that I got to his leg and he worked hard to get off,” Burak said. “Then he got to my leg and he worked really, really hard to get that, but he didn’t get it. That’s hard to come back from that; I smelled blood and I had to go.”
Like Brooks, this is the first conference finals appearance for Burak, who has fallen three previous times in the Big Ten semifinals. Burak lost to Ohio State’s Kyle Snyder, 3-2, in 2015 and he lost to McIntosh, 3-2, in overtime in both 2014 and 2013.
“This is the fourth time in a row I’ve been in the semifinals. Every single time I lost it in overtime or really close,” Burak said. “I told myself I’m not losing this time — I’m making it to the championship. That’s what I did, so praise the Lord.”
Brooks (25-4) is the third seed at 184, Dudley (22-5) is seeded fourth. McIntosh (29-0) is the top seed at 197, Burak (25-1) is seeded third.
“We have another day of wrestling, that’s how I’m looking at it,” UI head coach Tom Brands said. “Good job by Brooks, that was a solid win.
“Burak has paid his dues and he does everything right, you couldn’t ask for a better ambassador for your program the way he carries himself in his academics, social life, and the way he trains. He’s a good teammate.”
Penn State leads the team race by 27 points over the Hawkeyes (133-106) after the second session. Ohio State (100), Nebraska (97.5), and Rutgers (90.5) round out the top five.
Session III begins Sunday at noon (CT) with final bouts scheduled to begin at 3:10 p.m.