The Iowa wrestlers will give it a go this weekend at the Big Ten tournament at the Welsh-Ryan arena at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. The Hawks will be looking to increase some numbers as they enter the event. Numbers as in fourth straight and 35th overall team championship.
It won't be easy this time around as the Black and Gold will enter the tourney with just one top seed, Matt McDonough at 125. McDonough finished second in the Big Ten last year, before going on to win the NCAA tourney. The ex-Linn Mar Lion is ranked #1 in two publications, and number two in another. He is 20-1 on the year, with 11 pins. Three Hawkeyes are seeded second, Montell Marion (141), Luke Lofthouse (197) and ex-Iowa City West Trojan Derek St. John (157).
Cael Sanderson and the Penn State Nittany Lions lead the way with five top seeds. Barry Davis and the Wisconsin Badgers have three top seeds.
As we know, Iowa did win the conference regular season, with a 8-0 record, 15-0-1 on the season.
Tournament wrestling is about attrition and attitude. There is a lot of wrestling to do in a short time. The secret of success is to focus on what is at hand. If he wins, put it away and move on the the next match. If he loses, don't dwell on it, and get ready to wrestleback. These are be grueling, but team success comes back to the wrestlebacks and placing. A great deal of emphasis is placed winning individual championships. Those are fine and good. But each team brings ten wrestlers. Everyone of them needs to win as many matches as they can, and keep moving up the bracket.
That said, this is always been the strong suit of Iowa wrestling. The ability for everyone on the team to score and move the point total upward is a principle that coaches Kurdelmier, Gable and Brands have shared. Remember two years ago in the NCAA tournament, Iowa won the meet with zero champions.
The Iowa team and coaches work the attitude better than anyone. They may lose the battle, but they know how to win the war. Keeping fighting and never quit. If you can't finish first, then get third. If you lose again, take home fifth, or seventh. But whatever happens, keep working and get those team points.
Can Iowa win it again? Sure, but the competition will be as tough as it has ever been. Cael has his Lions roaring, and wanting revenge for an earlier defeat to the Hawkeyes. And Barry Davis has made no bones about it over the years. He wants to beat his alma mater, Iowa badly. The Badgers will be ready.
Really anyone can win the Big Tens this year. It is wide open. When you are checking the results this weekend, look for two things. Who is advancing in the championship brackets, and who is still alive in the the wrestlebacks. Those two things should tell you who is having success in the tournament.
I'll be there, and tell you about it when I get back.http://www.hawkeyesports.com/sports/m-wrestl/spec-rel/030111aab.html