Wrestlers won’t overlook Hoosiers

Iowa+149-pounder+Brandon+Sorensen+wrestles+against+Grand+Canyons+Blake+Monty+during+the+Iowa+City+Duals+at+Carver-Hawkeye+Arena+on+Friday%2C+Nov.+20%2C+2015.+The+Hawkeyes+defeated+the+Antelopes+44-0.+%28The+Daily+Iowan%2FValerie+Burke%29

Iowa 149-pounder Brandon Sorensen wrestles against Grand Canyon’s Blake Monty during the Iowa City Duals at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday, Nov. 20, 2015. The Hawkeyes defeated the Antelopes 44-0. (The Daily Iowan/Valerie Burke)

While it won’t be the last time this season the Iowa wrestling team will face Big Ten opponents in Carver-Hawkeye, tonight’s meet against Indiana will be its last conference dual.

Iowa City will host the Big Ten Championships on March 5-6, which will be the real curtain call for the Hawkeyes’ home season.

However, six Iowa seniors, including No. 3 197-pounder Nathan Burak, will be recognized after the dual.

“I’m really excited about it,” he said. “There are a lot of good things I’ll remember from here — the fun I’ve had, the relationships I’ve built with my teammates and coaches, all that stuff.”

In addition to Burak, three other seniors were listed in the probable lineups against Indiana — Brody Grothus (141), Edwin Cooper Jr. (157), and Patrick Rhoads (165). It seems likely that each wrestler will start for Iowa in their final regular-season home appearance.

“They set a great example for us in the room,” Iowa heavyweight Sam Stoll said. “There are some hard workers in that group, and I’d say the same thing about last year’s senior class, too.”

On paper, Indiana doesn’t present much of a challenge for the Hawkeyes. The Hoosiers have just two ranked wrestlers, and they’re both at strong Iowa weights — 125 and 174.

Thomas Gilman will get Indiana’s 24-5 freshman Elijah Oliver. Ranked No. 19 by Intermat, Oliver has faced for ranked opponents, beating just one of them. Gilman still has yet to lose this season, and this would hardly be the match for him to drop one.

Iowa head coach Tom Brands specifically pointed out the 174 bout, which will pit No. 10 Alex Meyer against the Hoosiers’ No. 11 Nate Jackson.

“This is just another chance four our guys to see how they stack up against some of the top-20 or top-15 guys in country,” Brands said. “You can’t wrestle the reputation or past of this team — you have to wrestle the moment.”

Indiana comes into the meet on a losing streak, having dropped two in a row. Michigan beat the Hoosiers, 33-6, on Jan. 24 and Ohio State downed the team, 27-9, three days later.

However, as Brands said, that doesn’t mean Indiana won’t walk into Carver-Hawkeye ready. The Hoosiers are certainly better this year than they have been in recent memory.

“This is a dual meet that’s going to affect the postseason,” Brands said. “We’re going to continue to find answers at a couple different weight classes.”

The Hawkeyes seem to have most of what they want their postseason lineup to be figured out, though Brands still does have two wrestlers listed at 141 and two at 165. Tonight’s dual will be one of the last chances the coaching staff has to tinker with the lineup before championship season.

“They’re going to put smart wrestlers out there,” Brands said. “And they’re going to do whatever they can to beat us.”

 

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

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