By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Max Murin was 10-years-old when his eyes were fixed on a BTN television broadcast. Former Hawkeye Brent Metcalf was dominating someone at the time, but that isn’t what impressed Murin the most.
“Holy cow, those are some crazy fans,” Murin thought of the 15,000-plus packed into Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
On Friday, Murin, an undefeated 141-pound wrestler from Ebensburg, Pennsylvania, will make his Carver-Hawkeye Arena debut. He is one of seven nationally ranked Hawkeyes in a lineup that will face Princeton at 7 p.m. (CT).
“Now I am wrestling for these crazy fans,” Murin said. “It’s awesome. I’m super-excited and looking forward to taking advantage of the opportunity.”
Murin also remembers the first time he watched a dual live in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. He was one of several members of the Young Guns Wrestling Club out of Pennsylvania who hopped in a van and drove west to see Iowa defeat then No. 1 Penn State, 22-16, in 2013.
“We watched Iowa kind of beat up on Penn State that year, it was a cool experience,” said Murin, who paused and then couldn’t resist. “That’s the way it should be every year.”
Murin is one of four redshirt freshmen in Iowa’s lineup and one of seven fresh faces who weren’t in the varsity lineup when the Hawkeyes finished fourth at the Big Ten Championship in March.
As an unattached competitor in 2017-18, Murin went 16-3. He won the Luther College Open, placed third at the Northern Iowa Open, and was fifth at the Midlands Championships. Yet, some of the stiffest competition he has faced has been in the Dan Gable Wrestling Complex. Also contending at 141 pounds for the Hawkeyes are junior Vince Turk (16-10 career record), sophomore Carter Happel (11-7), and sophomore Justin Stickley (12-6).
“I get tested every day in the room,” Murin said. “I wrestle all these great wrestlers and great guys. They make me so much better of a wrestler that I know I am ready for anyone.”
Murin also spars with 133-pounders Austin DeSanto and Jason Renteria, as well as 149-pounder Pat Lugo.
“There is a wide range of partners there, so it is an awesome time to be a lightweight at Iowa,” Murin said.
Murin won 156 matches at Central Cambria High School, where he was a two-time Pennsylvania state champion. Murin won the 113-pound title in 2015 and the 138-pound title in 2017. He is a three-time Fargo All-American.
“Murin is a hammer,” Iowa head coach Tom Brands said. “He has a motor and we have to keep it going. Can he keep that motor hot like it was against that competition (Nov. 9 in Kent, Ohio) against everybody and anybody? He needs to line up all-comers and take them on one at a time.”
Murin’s varsity career opened with an 18-4 major decision over Carlos Herrera of California-Bakersfield.
“I scored a lot of points, but I didn’t feel the way I wanted to feel,” Murin said. “I was a little rusty.”
He followed that with a fall against Cory Simpson of Kent State in 4:29.
“I felt good,” Murin said. “I felt I was rolling a little bit and then I got the pin. I always want the pin.”
Against Princeton, Murin is expected to face freshman Marshall Keller, who enters the dual with a 5-1 record. Brands won’t give Murin too much pre-bout advice.
“They have been in that arena, they have been on those stairs,” Brands said. “They have been watching it and when you’re a competitor, it’s time to go. There is no advice except make it hard on your opponent. Relax, do your job, and have fun.”