It's on to Illinois for No. 2 Iowa
Feb. 5, 2013
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- It took all of 15 minutes after the University of Iowa wrestling team knocked off top-ranked Penn State for the Hawkeyes to move on.
"By 10:30 p.m. on Friday night, we were talking about the next step on our schedule," UI head coach Tom Brands said Tuesday while meeting with media inside the Dan Gable Wrestling Complex. "A lot of people want to keep talking about it, but you don't let it go there.
"It's a big deal, it was a big deal, but it's time to get over it. We did get over it. We came in the next day, stuck to our routine, and we're getting ready for Illinois."
Iowa, which moved up a spot to No. 2 in the NWCA/USA Today Division I Coaches Poll, faces No. 8 Illinois Friday at 7:04 p.m. in Champaign, Ill. The dual will be televised on the Big Ten Network.
"You have a big one out of the shoot, unless you draw the weight classes," said Brands. "They have Delgado and a guy (Caleb Erwin) that had a big win a couple of weeks ago against Minnesota. Their lineup, as they get to the upper weights, they get some ranked guys in there.
"It's a big meet for them, they're home, there are Iowa guys on their coaching staff, so I would imagine it would be a little more personal for them."
The signature bout in the dual will come at 125 pounds where Iowa's Matt McDonough squares off against Jesse Delgado, who ranks anywhere between No. 3 and No. 5 in various polls. McDonough is riding a 42-match winning streak with his last loss coming to Delgado, 11-7 in overtime, last season.
"Anytime you have a loss to a guy and you're a high-level competitor, it eats at you," said Brands. "He beat him twice since, but wrestling is a funny sport. It's not like you get redemption and just forget about it.
"You don't ever forget about it. It was a loss in Carver-Hawkeye Arena, and we have to make sure we don't repeat the mistake."
Iowa also has to find an answer at 184 pounds, where Illinois features one of its seven ranked competitors.
Brands said senior Grant Gambrall earned a right to be in the Hawkeye lineup at 184 pounds in the dual against the Nittany Lions. The Iowa City, Iowa, native lost a 21-10 major decision to top-ranked Ed Ruth, but Brands said Gambrall did some good things.
"He took him down, and there were some good things that were contested," he said. "He knows he can do better and be smarter. It's not a matter of if he fought him hard, it's a matter of if he fought him hard and smart."
Moving forward, Brands says it will be the coaches' call at 184 between Gambrall or Ethen Lofthouse.
"I think we got his attention," said Brands of his decision to rest Lofthouse. "Whatever happens there is probably going to be more of a call of the coaching staff. I don't think we're going into a wrestle-off situation. It's one of those things where you evaluate as you go. We have guys that can do the job."
Brands likes where his team sits at this point of the season, but knows there is work to be done for the Hawkeyes to put themselves in national championship contention come March.
"We like the steps we're taking, but this does not position us to be in the discussion for a national championship," he said. "You can talk about Oklahoma State or Iowa and the argument is there from a dual perspective, but Penn State ran away with the Southern Scuffle. They have a lot of potential to score bonus points (in their lineup).
"To be in the discussion, we have to have 10 weight classes to compete with that firepower. We have to have 10 weight classes that think they're going to be the national champion.
"We have to take care of business now and bring along a couple more weight classes and continue to solidify the others as well."
Following the dual at Illinois, the Hawkeye return to Carver-Hawkeye Arena to face 13th-ranked Nebraska at 2:05 p.m. (CT) Sunday.