Wrestlers face well-known test

Iowa+157-pounder+Michael+Kelly+wrestles+Luke+Frey+of+Penn+State+at+Bryce+Jordan+Center+in+State+College%2C+Pennsylvania+on+Sunday%2C+February+8%2C+2015.+Kelly+defeated+Frey%2C+7-4.+The+No.+1+ranked+Hawkeyes+defeated+the+No.+5+ranked+Nittany+Lions%2C+18-12.+%28The+Daily+Iowan%2FTessa+Hursh%29

"Tessa Hursh"

“Iowa 157-pounder Michael Kelly wrestles Luke Frey of Penn State at Bryce Jordan Center in State College, Pennsylvania on Sunday, February 8, 2015. Kelly defeated Frey, 7-4. The No. 1 ranked Hawkeyes defeated the No. 5 ranked Nittany Lions, 18-12. (The Daily Iowan/Tessa Hursh)”

When the Iowa wrestling team hosts Minnesota on Friday, it won’t have the same feel as the No. 1 vs. No. 2 battle that took place in Minneapolis last season.

It will be the 101st meeting between the two teams and is part of a series that stretches all the way to 1921.

“It’s one of the ones that we always point to on the schedule,” Iowa head coach Tom Brands said. “Last time they were in Iowa City, they beat us, and we really have to be ready to go.”

The Gophers aren’t nearly as good this season as they have been over the past few years, thought they do boast four top-13 wrestlers. Recent history also would suggest the dual will be interesting.

When teams met a year ago, the dual resulted in a testy affair. Thomas Gilman, Iowa’s 125-pounder, was booed lustily after he tried to get into the Gophers’ huddle at one point.

He brought up the incident immediately when asked about Minnesota and held that he was just trying to shake another wrestler’s hand.

“Things got a bit chippy last year,” Gilman said. “They’re going to be excited, ready to go, but we’ll see how excited they are when we put them down.”

Still undefeated

Three Iowa wrestlers — Gilman, Nathan Burak, and Brandon Sorensen — remain undefeated this season.

Gilman and Burak are 17-0, and Sorensen is 19-0.

“You really have to take it one match at a time,” Gilman said. “You can’t be looking at an undefeated season, 30-0. That’s a tall task. You have to take things one week at a time — not looking forward nor looking back.

The trio’s winning streaks are all career bests, and many of the wins have come in dominating fashion. Gilman has posted 14 bonus-point victories, while Sorensen and Burak both have 10 such wins.

Only 15 wrestlers in Iowa history have been able to complete perfect seasons. It’s also the first time since the 2009-10 season that the Hawkeyes have had three wrestlers undefeated this late in the season.

“You can learn from a loss,” Burak said. “But I’d rather learn from a victory than a loss. I’m just trying to keep moving forward while continuing to win matches.”

Intermat ranking updates

There wasn’t a whole lot of movement in the Intermat top-20 wrestlers and Iowa is still ranked in eight of 10 weights.

Only two Hawkeye wrestlers moved in the rankings — Edwin Cooper Jr. (157) and 184-pounder Sammy Brooks. Cooper moved from No. 16 back to No. 18 despite winning two matches against ranked competition. Brooks fell four spots to No. 11 after losing by fall against Nebraska.

Gilman and Sorensen both come in at No. 2 in the rankings. Cory Clark (133) and Burak both remain at No. 3 and round out Iowa’s top-5 ranked wrestlers.

Heavyweight Sam Stoll stayed at No. 7, while 174-pounder Alex Meyer stays at No. 12.

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