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NCAAs, Olympic Trials and Fan Fest among this week's wrestling headlines
Head coach Tom Brands speaks with USA Wrestling at today's NCAA coaches press conference.
Head coach Tom Brands speaks with USA Wrestling at today's NCAA coaches press conference.
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March 14, 2012

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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.

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Open it up. Get the pin. Pick up bonus points. Slam the door on your opponent.

Unknown variables withstanding, that's a pretty good formula. It's worked 23 times since 1974, and head coach Tom Brands believes it could work again when Iowa begins pursuit of its 24th NCAA wrestling title Thursday morning inside the Scottrade Center in St. Louis.

"We have to be tough in tough situations, and we have to score points for seven minutes," said Brands, who has led Iowa to three titles in five years. "It's very simple. We have to get bonus points when we can pick them up. We have a group of guys that can do that, and we have to be consistent doing it."

The Hawkeyes open the national tournament with eight NCAA qualifiers -- seven of whom are seeded in the top five, which is more than any other school. Matt McDonough is the top seed at 125 pounds. Derek St. John is seeded No. 2 at 157. Tony Ramos (133) and Montell Marion (141) are both seeded third at their respective weights, while Mike Evans (165), Ethen Lofthouse (174) and Bobby Telford (285) are all seeded fifth.

But even with all those favorable seeds, Brands reinforced to the media this week that championships are won on the mat, not by an attractive tournament bracket.

"Seeds don't mean anything," said Brands. "Early in the year we talk about it because it helps your positioning for the end. We have our positions and away we go."

Iowa's only unseeded wrestler is 184-pounder Grant Grambrall -- a third place finisher and All-American at the 2011 NCAA Championships. He'll face eighth-seeded Ryan Loder, a familiar opponent from Northern Iowa. Gambrall has defeated Loder in two of their three career meetings.

McDonough and Telford also face familiar opponents in the opening round. McDonough scored a 13-4 major decision over Eastern Michigan's Jared Germaine at the 2011 Midlands, and Telford blanked Blayne Beale, 12-0, in the Northern Iowa dual.

While that previous success may forecast things to come for Iowa, the tournament bracket is a long one and Brands cautions anyone to look back or too far ahead. Rather, he wants Iowa's wrestlers focused on the present.

"It doesn't matter what the matchups are now, it doesn't matter what the seeds are. The brackets are laid out, we know each path. You don't look ahead. You take it one match at a time."

OLYMPIC TRIALS SINGLE-DAY TICKETS NOW ON SALE

The University of Iowa announced Tuesday that single-day tickets to the U.S. Olympic Team Trials are now available for purchase at iowacitytolondon.com or over the phone at 800-424-2957. The Olympic Trials determine the United States' representatives at the 2012 London Olympics. Eighteen team members in three Olympic events will be determined April 21-22 inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Former Hawkeyes Mike Zadick and Ryan Morningstar will compete for a spot on Team USA on Saturday, April 21, while former Hawkeyes Brent Metcalf, Phil Keddy and Steve Mocco begin pursuit of their Olympic dreams on Sunday, April 22.

Single-day tickets are $40 for adults and $25 for children high school age and younger. Single-day tickets gain the ticket holder admission to two sessions of wrestling on ONE particular day -- Saturday OR Sunday. Preliminary round competition begins each day at 9 a.m. (CT). The finals begin at 6 p.m. (CT).

DOWNTOWN IOWA CITY TO HOST ASICS FAN FEST

In between sessions of the U.S. Olympic Wrestling Team Trials, fans are invited to join the Downtown Iowa City Self Supported Municipal Improvement District (SSMID) at the Asics Fan Fest, the entertainment hub for the thousands of visitors attending the 2012 U.S. Olympic Wrestling Team Trials. Fan Fest is open to the public and FREE for all ages.

Fans attending the Olympic Trials can walk, drive or be shuttled from Carver-Hawkeye Arena to downtown Iowa City, where they can enjoy live music and interactive wrestling-themed activities, browse merchandise vendors, enjoy family-friendly activities at the Patch.com Kids' Zone, and experience Iowa City's celebration of Olympic wrestling hopefuls as they pursue their dreams of competing in the 2012 London Olympics. Official Asics Fan Fest activities are scheduled from 2-6 p.m. on April 21 and 22.

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