Hawkeye wrestling focuses on three elements heading into championship season

In the final month of the season, the Iowa wrestling team will emphasize three things: preparation, consistency, and setting the tone.

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Hawkeye wrestling focuses on three elements heading into championship season

Iowa's #12 ranked Cash Wilcke grapples with Princeton's Kevin Parker in a 184-lb wrestling match at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday, Nov. 16, 2018. Wilcke defeated Parker 8-2.

Iowa's #12 ranked Cash Wilcke grapples with Princeton's Kevin Parker in a 184-lb wrestling match at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday, Nov. 16, 2018. Wilcke defeated Parker 8-2.

David Harmantas

Iowa's #12 ranked Cash Wilcke grapples with Princeton's Kevin Parker in a 184-lb wrestling match at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday, Nov. 16, 2018. Wilcke defeated Parker 8-2.

David Harmantas

David Harmantas

Iowa's #12 ranked Cash Wilcke grapples with Princeton's Kevin Parker in a 184-lb wrestling match at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday, Nov. 16, 2018. Wilcke defeated Parker 8-2.

Sarah Altemeier, Sports Reporter

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Before Iowa wrestling faced Oklahoma State on Sunday, head coach Tom Brands focused on the outcome of that particular dual, but he seemed even more focused on making sure each wrestler practiced getting ready to go for each match as if it is the biggest one.

“If you steamroll or get steamrolled, you’ve still got to get ready to go, and we get ready to go the same way,” Brands said before Iowa’s eventual 27-12 dual loss. “While you’re keeping everything in perspective, as you go forward, the biggest thing is to get ready to go. Because when our guys get ready to go, they’re pretty doggone good.”

Coming off their first team loss of the season, the Hawkeyes must focus as they head into their postseason tournaments at the most important part of the year.

Other than preparation and not overlooking matches, the wrestlers also need to concentrate on consistency and setting the tone.

Brands said some instances in which Iowa showed consistency in recent weeks include Cash Wilcke’s 5-2 upset over Nebraska’s No. 4 Taylor Venz and Alex Marinelli’s sudden victory win over No. 3 Evan Wick of Wisconsin.

David Harmantas
Iowa’s #4 ranked Alex Marinelli grapples with Princeton’s Dale Tiongson in a 165-lb wrestling match at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday, Nov. 16, 2018. Marinelli pinned Tiongson at 3:58.

“You look at some things in our program — Cash Wilcke having that big win at Nebraska — that was a big win for him, especially how he wrestled the match,” Brands said. “Marinelli, that was a big win for him just because he knew the situation the whole time. He knew that he was going into overtime, the other guy was taking his ankle bands off. That pleases me when I see that our guys know what is going on.”

The Hawkeyes are the No. 3 team in the nation, but they are still working on becoming a real contender for the NCAAs, trailing Penn State and Oklahoma State. In order to really become a squad fighting for the team title, Iowa must continue to compete consistently.

“I guess my point is that we’ve got to keep getting better,” Brands said. “What I’m talking about with Wilcke, Lee, Marinelli, and all the good performances that we’ve had, have got to continue. They’ve got to continue at a high level and consistently every time out.”

All season, the Iowa wrestling squad has preached going into each match as if it is the biggest one and performing at a high level regardless of who the wrestler across the mat is. And this mindset must not falter in the final month of the season.

RELATED: Iowa wrestling posts solid numbers as regular season ends

“It’s always important to dictate the pace of the match and to set the tone,” Brands said. “It doesn’t matter what year it is, what opponent it is, something that we have been implementing, or trying to implement, and certainly communicating is that it doesn’t matter who the opponent is going out there. Impose your will, and score points. Do what you do best.”

The Hawkeyes will take this weekend off before heading to Minneapolis for the Big Ten Championships March 9-10.