All-Americans will lead wrestlers

Iowa+125-pounder+Thomas+Gilman+stands+during+media+day+in+the+Dan+Gable+complex+in+Carver-Hawkeye+Arena+on+Thursday%2C+Nov.+5%2C+2015.+Gilman+is+one+of+the+four+All-Americans+returning+to+the+team+this+season.+%28The+Daily+Iowan%2FRachael+Westergard%29

Iowa 125-pounder Thomas Gilman stands during media day in the Dan Gable complex in Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Thursday, Nov. 5, 2015. Gilman is one of the four All-Americans returning to the team this season. (The Daily Iowan/Rachael Westergard)

Jordan Hansen, [email protected]

Last year, six Hawkeyes reached All-American status. Four will return to the mat this season, which is a huge bonus for a team that lost starters at five weights because of graduation.

The junior tandem of 133-pounder Cory Clark and 125-pounder Thomas Gilman finished second and fourth at their weights last year and probably will be the Hawkeyes best shots at national titles this season.

Gilman is ranked third coming into the season, and Clark is ranked second.

The duo, along with fellow All-Americans Brandon Sorensen at 149 and Nathan Burak at 197, will be the backbone of the 2015-16 Hawkeye wrestlers.

They have also taken on leadership roles, something Iowa head coach Tom Brands stressed during the team’s media day.

People don’t tend to listen to somebody who’s got a goose egg under the W column, Brands said. “They listen to people who got a lot of notches on their belt, so to speak, or on their weapon, in the W column, so to speak.

That, of course, isnt to say they dont already have the respect of the team, but with Mike Evans and Bobby Telford graduating last season, theres a bit of a void to be filled both in points and leadership.

Gilman has vocalized his desire to be considered a leader on the team, and he sounds the part.

I know these guys look up to me, he said.Benjamin Franklin always said take care of everyone else by taking care of yourself first, and thats how I view leadership.

If Im doing what I need to do, then everyone else is going to come along, too.

While the 125-pounder might be the most forthright of the four, its not even a question that the wrestlers respect the other three.

The most important thing the four need to do, however, is win and win often. Expectations around the team are, as normal, high, and if the Hawkeyes truly are serious about winning a national title (and oh, they most certainly are), Gilman, Clark, Sorensen, and Burak are going to be relied on for points.

For me, it comes down to working hard and setting the tone, Clark said.You have to stay hungry and wrestle every match like it is the championship match.

Clark ended the season with 30 wins, while Sorensen picked up 40, Gilman won 31, and Burak — who missed a good chunk of the season — had his hand raised 24 times.

The four also combined for 59 bonus-point victories, around 32 percent of Iowas total, and they will need to do more of the same this season.

The big thing for me, last year, was that I scored a lot more points at nationals, and its about bringing that more into practice and bring that more this season, Burak said.Attacking the guy a lot more, trying to score more with my attacks.

Getting Iowas best wrestlers to win by bonus points has been one of Brands talking points for a long,long time,but it will be especially crucial this season.

Without the benefit of having an especially deep team, the Hawkeyes will need its four returning All-Americans to pick up some of the slack.

Of course, just about anything can change until the NCAA Championships on March 17-19 in Madison Square Garden, but the recipe for success has been laid out: The favored wrestlers win, and theywin by a lot.

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