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Wrestle-offs not the final say for Iowa's lineups

BY MOLLY IRENE OLMSTEAD | NOVEMBER 16, 2011 7:20 AM

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The Iowa wrestling team witnessed a pair of upsets in the finals of its wrestle-offs on Nov. 10-12.

Senior Tyler Clark — carrying only a 6-3 career record with the Hawkeyes — defeated returning NCAA qualifier and last year's 133-pound starter, Tony Ramos. Redshirt freshman Bobby Telford then brought down defending Big Ten heavyweight champion Blake Rasing in a 2-0 scrape.

But the true test comes this weekend, head coach Tom Brands said.

The Hawkeyes will compete at the Linwood University Open in St. Charles, Mo., on Saturday.

There, the "million-dollar question" about who will start in several weight classes will be answered.

"This weekend is for real," Brands said. "It was upon us last weekend — it was real — but now it's for real against other competition than what's in [Iowa's] room."

Telford agreed that the wrestle-offs didn't prove much. He said the tournament is more like a bump in the road he has to cross before he can earn a starting position on the mat.

"Just because you win wrestle-offs, it doesn't put your name in the starting lineup or stamp your name in there for March," Telford said. "There's not that much self-satisfaction there to win them.

It's more like you're appointed with a challenge, and it's something you've just got to meet."

Telford said he still has work to do before he'll be satisfied with his performance. In the final round of the wrestle-off, he gained an advantage with a top position over Rasing in the second period and gained a riding time point. His only other point came from an escape in the following period.

The Hockessin, Del., native said building on his faults from his matches last weekend will help him defend the upper hand he has over Rasing now in the competition for the starting position.

Brands said performance on the mat is the key factor in deciding who's going to start for the year.

"This isn't about necessarily if I can train hard and have a good attitude every day," Brands said. "This is about being able to whip some tail in St. Louis this weekend."

Clark prepared to defend his wrestle-off victory

Tyler Clark emerged victorious over Ramos in the finals of wrestle-offs on Nov. 12, just as he did last year by a 3-2 tie-break decision in the preliminary rounds. Clark won the 2010 wrestle-off tournament at 133 when he pinned Nate Moore in 8:48 in the final round.

But Ramos was chosen over Clark for the starting position — and, ultimately, the NCAA spot last year.

Brands said he can see Clark is "hungry" and "wants to be the guy" as the 133-pound senior tries to defend his victory against another coach's decision.

"It's my last year, so this is my last run at it," Clark said. "There's maybe a little more drive behind me than in the past few years."

The leadership search continues

Brands said the Hawkeyes "still need some work in the leadership category" during the team's media day on Nov. 9.

One week later, Brands' search for an outgoing vocal leader on his team continues. He said has to be convinced in order for a wrestler to be named a captain.

"It has to be real," Brands said. "It has to be genuine and invested and not just a phony thing. It has to be like 'I care.' "

Returning All-American and national champion Matt McDonough said he feels the pressure to step up and become a strong leader for the Hawkeyes.

"Everyone gets a little bit of a talking-to," the junior said. "You've got to have people who are willing to speak up. Maybe they're timid or afraid to, but that's something they're constantly working on every day."


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