Wrestlers seek to hogtie Jackrabbits

Iowa+wrestler+Nathan+Burak+tackles+Iowa+Central+College+wrestler+Jones+Kendrick+at+the+Carver-Hawkeyes+Arena+on+Friday%2C+Nov.+20%2C+2015.+The+Hawkeyes+dominated+the+Iowa+Central+College%2C+54-0.+%28The+Daily+Iowan.Peter+Kim%29

Peter Kim

Iowa wrestler Nathan Burak tackles Iowa Central College wrestler Jones Kendrick at the Carver-Hawkeyes Arena on Friday, Nov. 20, 2015. The Hawkeyes dominated the Iowa Central College, 54-0. (The Daily Iowan.Peter Kim)

The Hawkeye wrestling team will play host to South Dakota State this evening, fresh off a win last week against Iowa State.

South Dakota State 157-pounder Cody Pack, who has qualified and done fairly well at three-straight NCAA Championships, leads the Jackrabbits. He’s 85-31 all-time and will provide a big test for Iowa’s Edwin Cooper Jr.

“We got to be ready to go,” Iowa head coach Tom Brands said. “We have a good team coming into Carver-Hawkeye Arena, and we have to be on our game like we are every week. Nothing changes, and that has to be the dialogue — the mindset.”

Including South Dakota State, the Hawkeyes have just two duals left on the calendar year. Rutgers will visit Carver-Hawkeye on Dec. 10, the team’s last competition until the Midlands Championships on Dec. 29-30.

Iowa, of course, has dominated in the early goings of the season, outscoring dual opponents by a combined score of 243-31. While South Dakota State will likely add more to the win column for Iowa, there are a few places besides 157 where they could give the home team some trouble.

The Jackrabbits 197-pounder Nate Rotert will get the Hawkeye’s No.4 ranked Nathan Burak. Rotert was a national qualifier at 197 a season ago and is 8-4 on the season.

Burak has been excellent so far this season, winning each of his first six matches, five by bonus points.

“We just have to keep pushing the pace,” Burak said. “We have to keep focused, get to our offense, and just stay relaxed.”

The 141 match should also pique some interest, as former Hawkeye Seth Gross return to Iowa City as a member of South Dakota State’s team. Gross, Logan Ryan, and former Iowa wrestler Ross Lembeck were arrested on March 18.

All three were dismissed from the team, though Ryan was eventually let back on. Brands didn’t have a whole lot to say when asked about it, but he did acknowledge the situation.

“[Ryan] owned the whole incident, that’s No. 1, and our administration was comfortable with that; he was very accountable,” Brands said. “But there isn’t a whole lot to talk about other than there’s some history there.”

Ryan has had an up-and-down start to his season and is just 6-4 on the year. Brands said progress is being made, but it still remains to be seen if he’ll still have the spot once Brody Grothus is completely healthy.

The 165 spot also remains up in the air, as Burke Paddock and Patrick Rhoads have both seen some time at the weight this season. Both are listed on the initial bout sheet, but Brands said during his press conference it would be Paddock this week.

“We’ll keep figuring it out as we go,” Brands said. “We need more awareness on the mat. We need a guy there that’s going to be tough and add to our chain of 10 weight classes where they’re all contenders.”

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