The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Brooks, Burak huge on the mat

Iowa 184-pounder Sammy Brooks throws Illinois’ Nikko Reyes during the Iowa-Illinois duel in Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday, Jan. 16, 2015. The Hawkeyes defeated the Fighting Illini, 25-12. (The Daily Iowan/Margaret Kispert)

Iowa’s 184- and 197-pound wrestlers have been excellent for the Hawkeyes so far this season.

By Jordan Hansen

[email protected]

Sammy Brooks and Nathan Burak showed once again how dominant they’ve been in the early goings of the season during Iowa wrestling’s 33-6 dual win over Iowa State.

Burak, ranked No. 4 by Flowrestling at 197-pounds, is a two-time All-American, but he has struggled with injuries and missed a huge chunk last season, while Brooks finished third at the Big Ten tournament at 184 before fading at the NCAAs.

“I think there’s a little left undone,” head coach Tom Brands said about Burak. “I think he’s on a mission.”

Both wrestlers had their goals during the off-season — Brooks wanted to take a step forward and be considered along with the elite 184-pounders, while Burak repeatedly said he wants to be more aggressive.

So far, the duo has combined for 11 bonus-point victories in 12 matches and includes four falls, a forfeit, and an opponent being disqualified for having too many stalling calls.

Brooks, especially, has looked dominate on the mat in each of his six wins this season. He started things off with a bang when he beat Oklahoma State’s Jordan Rodgers 17-2 to help win the Grapple at the Gridron.

He’s only given up one takedown while scoring 24 of his own. It seems that losing a 3-2 bout in the national quarterfinal last year to Cornell’s eventual national champion, Gabe Dean, gave him a little extra motivation going into this season.

“A big thing for me is having consistency,” Brooks said. “I’ve been getting up for every match this year instead of having some highs and lows last year. Last year, I came out early and did well, but this is a different year. I’m going to keep taking it one match at a time.”

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Consistency is as key for Burak as it is for Brooks. They’ve combined to go 34-39 against ranked competition and have had their share of big wins and head-scratching losses.

Iowa’s schedule hasn’t been particularly difficult so far this season, and neither wrestler will face a real test until the Midlands Championships in late December. It’s a long season, and while the hot start is promising, everything important is still ahead of them.

“I just need to keep being relaxed and focused on my matches,” Burak said. “I just want to keep getting better and keep moving forward so you can get to the top and stay there.”

Iowa needs Burak and Brooks to have special season for any realistic shot at a team national title, something that eluded Iowa last season and has since 2010. Brooks has never placed at the NCAA meet, while Burak’s seventh-place finish last season was the best of his career.

That, of course, is a long ways down the line and November performances do not always equal March ones, but their performances so far point positively in that direction.

“I know how good I am, and people in this program know how good I am, so it’s just about doing it now,” Brooks said. “It’s the same way with some of these guys that didn’t get the outcome they wanted last year, it’s just about doing what we’re capable of.”

Follow @JordyHansen for Iowa wrestling news, updates, and analysis.

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