Feb. 9, 2012
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa wrestling team will own the No. 1 seed when it opens the NWCA Cliff Keen National Dual Tournament on Sunday at the Iowa State regional. Cornell, Minnesota and Oklahoma State also earned the top seed at their respective regionals, the NWCA announced Tuesday.
Iowa will face a regional field that includes a number of black and gold ingredients. Regional participants Northern Iowa, Oregon State, Virginia Tech and Wisconsin are all led by former Hawkeye wrestlers.
Iowa head coach Tom Brands -- a three-time NCAA champion as a Hawkeye -- knows each team shares a common goal and that the Hawkeye influence will make for an exciting brand of college wrestling.
"The national duals are upon us, and we have to be ready to go," said Brands. "We have to get the message out to the fans to support it.
"Our job is to entertain by performance. Our job is to get our guys ready to go. Our guys job is to go out and take care of their individual matches. Our fans will support us, I'm sure. So send them in droves over there to Ames."
The Hawkeyes are the on-paper favorites to win the regional and advance to the championship round on Feb. 19. They have a combined 185-33-7 all-time record against their five regional opponents -- including wins over Iowa State, Northern Iowa and Wisconsin earlier in the season -- but Brands cautions anyone to look beyond a weekend that includes a pair of in-state rivals and two teams ranked in the NWCA/USA Today Top 25 -- Oregon State (16) and Virginia Tech (24).
"The next event is the most important event," said Brands. "I believe that, and that's a good way to march when you're talking about getting ready for competition. I don' think you look into the rear view mirror too much, and I don't think you look ahead too much.
"You've got to stay focused on what's in front of you. That includes not even looking at the second weekend of the national duals. We've got to get through this weekend."
The winner of the Iowa State regional advances to the championship round of this year's "Mat Mayhem" format. Cornell (N.Y.), Oklahoma State and Rutgers are also hosting regional tournaments. The Cowboys, ranked No. 1 in the NWCA coaches poll, earned the top seed in Stillwater, Okla.
Cornell will defend its 2011 National Duals title as the top seed in Ithaca, N.Y., and Minnesota owns the top seed at the Rutgers regional in Piscataway, N.J. The winner of each regional will advance to a championship site that has not yet been determined. Minnesota, Missouri, Oklahoma State and Northern Iowa have all submitted bids to host the finals on Feb. 19.
The Hawkeyes begin their quest for their seventh national duals title Sunday at 1 p.m. inside Hilton Coliseum. They'll face either No. 4 Virginia Tech or No. 5 Northern Iowa. The other semifinal dual will include second-seeded Oregon State and the winner of the No. 3/6 matchup between Iowa State and Wisconsin. The regional finals will follow at 3 p.m.
Tickets are available for a general admission adult price of $25 with a $15 price for youth high school age and under. Fans can order tickets online at cyclones.com, in person at the athletics ticket office and by phone at 515-294-1816. Doors open to the general public at 10 a.m.