Ever since the very first rankings of the season were released the University of Iowa wrestling team has been top dog. Even so, the Hawkeye grapplers have long been weary of paying much attention to these lists. Whether they are favored or not, they go out and wrestle the same match. However, this weekend the stakes are being raised as Iowa enters the Cliff Keen National Duals.
This is not to say that the Hawkeyes have not been looking ahead. Even as early as the win over Virginia on Sunday head coach Tom Brands was saying, “We train with an eye on the future. That doesn’t mean we look past events, but we do train with an eye on the future.” He also added that when it comes to the national duals, “If you’re not there, then you’re not a big boy.”
“This is a big week we’ve got to do it right training-wise. We’ve got a big event coming to Iowa City this coming Saturday and Sunday. One week from today there is going to be a national dual championship crowned and we’ve got work to do before we get to that match, and first things first we’ve got to do it right this week.”
Another big consideration that comes with the national duals is the possibility of peaking. One thing that would be unfortunate would be if any of the Iowa wrestlers reached their peak performances at the national duals and then had their talents deteriorate before the Big Ten tournament or the NCAA tournament.
According to Brands though, “We’re not worried about whether we can compete or whether this is the right thing or not… peaking is a mindset; getting ready for tough matches is a mindset.”
And a big stage it is with many of the weight classes likely being previews of the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments still to come. This seriousness is not lost among the wrestlers themselves either. Even beginning last Sunday, Iowa 141 pounder, Josh Dziewa, began thinking, “We’re in the postseason now… the regular season is over. Today was the first leg of the postseason. I’m not sure who we’re going to line up against Saturday, but we’re ready to go for anybody.”
That anybody has been set by now though. Beginning at 12 p.m. Saturday the University of Iowa will take on unranked Chattanooga University in the opening bout of the quarterfinal round. Even though Chattanooga may be unranked they are not witout talent. Among the most interesting matches to watch within Iowa’s opening bout are the 125 lb match, pitting the Hawks’ #5 Thomas Gilman against the Mocs’ #10 Sean Boyle, and the 133 lb match which features Iowa’s #6 Cory Clark and Chattanooga’s #13 Nick Soto.
These great matches and others within the tournament will likely draw a respectable crowd within Carver-Hawkeye Arena come this weekend and all of Iowa City seems to be excited about the tournament. Brands shared this excitement as well when he proclaimed Sunday, “We’re excited to have it, it’s good for our fans, and we’re going to be ready to go and scrap just like seven other teams that are coming to Iowa City.”