Tom Brands addresses his team during the first day of the 2012-13 season.
Oct. 10, 2012
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Today is the first official day of the 2012-13 wrestling season. Day No. 1. It may seem like a long way from Day No. 165, when 10 NCAA Champions will be crowned in Des Moines, Iowa, but head coach Tom Brands knows it is time to get to work.
Academics, nutrition, mindset, character and athletics. Brands' message to the Hawkeyes was to get everything moving in the right direction and prepare for a season of no regret.
Redshirt freshman Brody Grothus has been looking forward to this day since arriving on campus in 2011. Like any other true freshmen under Brands' watch, Grothus knew it would be next to impossible to shed his redshirt and crack the varsity lineup last season, but this year the doors are open.
"I'm going to be competing for a spot, and that motivates me to keep working hard and to keep building," said Grothus, who posted a 19-6 record last year while wrestling unattached at 149 pounds.
"The motivation really started the first day I got on campus, but reality is setting in that, `you know what, this is why I came here,' and this next month leading up to wrestle-offs is the most important month for me since I've been here."
A year ago sophomore Mike Evans opened camp prepared to take ownership of the 165-pound weight class. He did just that while racing to a 9-0 record to start the season. He later earned a runner-up finish at the conference tournament to earn a No. 5 seed at the NCAA Championships, but he went 1-2 at the national tournament and failed to earn All-America honors.
"Last year didn't end the way I wanted it to," said Evans, "and I've been thinking about this season since I walked off the mat. I can't wait to put on the black singlet again. I expect more and I expect better.
"Every year is a little different. You see some new faces, some changes in attitude and maybe an enhanced sense of urgency. I'm very ready for it."
Evans, wrestling as a redshirt freshman in 2011-12, posted a spotless 9-0 record inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. That mark included a third period pin against Minnesota's Cody Yohn to put 9,511 Hawkeye fans on their feet. Grothus was on the bench for the 19-17 win over the Gophers, and the possibility of being on the mat for the next ovation isn't lost on the Davenport, Iowa, native.
"Wrestling in front of the Hawkeye crowd inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena is always in the back of my mind and this year I have the chance to do that," he said.
Grothus is one of nine Hawkeyes listed as a potential 149-pound starter. Iowa hasn't qualified a wrestler at 149 pounds since Brent Metcalf won his second NCAA title at the weight in 2010. Grothus knows the opportunity is there, and he's mentally and physically prepared for the emotions that come with the season's first practice.
"I don't think it's different than any other practice," he said. "I've learned since I've been here to push myself and put myself through a workout the coaches would put us through. So, just because it's the first structured workout doesn't mean my intensity or my motivation or my love for the sport of wrestling changes.
"There's never a time where you back off or you rest. Each day you are working out you're working out to get better and to be that guy on the team."
Grothus will have a chance to earn the 149-pound starting spot at the wrestle-offs Nov. 8-10. The Hawkeyes open the season Nov. 16 at Tennessee-Chattanooga. They host their home opener Nov. 24 at the Iowa City Duals. Last season, Iowa led the nation in average attendance for the sixth straight year when they set a national dual record by averaging 9,014 fans. Season tickets for the 2012-13 season are available at hawkeyesports.com or by contacting the UI Ticket Office at 1-800-IA-HAWKS.