Cool As a Cucumber
Jan. 9, 2014
Editor's Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa's Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Don't get Derek St. John wrong, he likes to have a good time and let loose, he just doesn't show those emotions when he's wrestling for the University of Iowa.
"When you're on the mat, you don't let the emotion affect you," said St. John, the nation's No. 1-ranked 157-pounder. "You wrestle with emotion and you feel that stuff, but you don't let other people see it. That's the way I have always approached it, and it works for me, so I keep doing it.
"There are points where you want to let loose, but you can't let that stuff control you. When you stay composed, it helps you in your matches when you get in a tough spot."
Fans won't see it, but St. John's adrenaline will be running high Friday with No. 5 Oklahoma State coming to Carver-Hawkeye Arena for a 7 p.m. (CT) dual. St. John will face off against the Cowboys' Alex Dieringer, the nation's second-ranked competitor.
"It's No. 1 vs. No. 2... it's a pretty big deal," said St. John, who is 19-0 this season and the winner of his last 26 matches dating back to last season. "But it's not any different than any other week. You approach it like any other time you get ready for a big match. You get your work done, get home and get nutrition in you."
St. John is 2-0 against Dieringer, posting both victories during his 31-2, national championship junior season. He won the first meeting in the Jan. 13 dual in Stillwater by an 8-4 decision before winning, 3-2, in the second tiebreaker in the semifinals of the 2013 NCAA Championships.
"He's good at staying in position and is explosive and unpredictable," said St. John of Dieringer. "He has a goofier style of wrestling too, so you have to come ready to go when you wrestle a guy who is explosive like that."
The match has the makings for a tough, hard-nosed fight, which bodes well St. John.
"He's a tough guy," said UI head coach Tom Brands. "He doesn't give up, he contests things and doesn't concede. That's why he has success."
With St. John, quitting or letting up is never an option.
"(My opponents) are aware it is going to be a tough match and I am not going to stop attacking or pounding them," said St. John. "It is a positive thing for me that will help me in the long run with nationals and the Big Ten Championships."
Brands says St. John is an example of what a strong-willed, strong-minded athlete can do.
"The adversity he has been through with his injuries are good examples of what the mind can do," said Brands. "It doesn't matter... (His attitude is) you can cut my leg off and I'm going to get it done. I am going to do it, persevere.
"He embodies someone we can look to in this room as tough guys are hard to find. When you find them, they're valuable."
Friday's dual will be televised live on Mediacom with Rob Brooks, Dan Gable and Mike Duroe on the call.