Dec. 9, 2011
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 -- A key piece to the University of Iowa wrestling team's puzzle returned Thursday night when junior Grant Gambrall was inserted into the Hawkeye lineup at 197 pounds.
Gambrall posted a 7-3 victory over Northern Iowa's Taylor Kettman to lead the Hawkeyes to a 38-4 victory over the Panthers. The team win ran Iowa's dual unbeaten streak to 84 consecutive matches.
Gambrall was competing in his second match of the season -- and first since Nov. 25. The Iowa City, Iowa, native was working his way back after missing early season workouts with a concussion.
"It felt good," said Gambrall, a 2011 All-American at 184 pounds. "I am still not to the level I would like to be at. I need to be a lot sharper and dominant, but it felt great to get back out there. There's nothing better than wrestling in front of a lot of fans at Carver."
"It felt good. I am still not to the level I would like to be at. I need to be a lot sharper and dominant, but it felt great to get back out there. There's nothing better than wrestling in front of a lot of fans at Carver."
Junior Grant Gambrall
Gambrall notched the match's first points with a take down with 36 seconds left in the opening period, but the UNI freshman escaped with seven seconds remaining to make the score 2-1. A Kettman escape was the only scoring in the second before Gambrall used an escape and a pair of takedowns in the final period to secure the victory.
"I got it going a little bit more in the third," he said. "I don't know why. Maybe the warm-ups were off? Maybe I needed to break through and get that second wind earlier before the match started? We'll figure it out."
After dropping the first match of the dual at 184 pounds, the Hawkeyes cruised to the dual victory, winning the final nine matches. Following Gambrall's four-point win at 197, the Hawkeyes secured bonus points in seven of the final nine bouts, including a fall by freshman Mike Evans and a forfeit victory by Ethen Lofthouse.
"We saw some good things and we saw some areas that need improvement," said UI head coach Tom Brands. "We saw some situations where the other guy is not really trying to score. We can't allow that. We're going to have to work harder and push through it."
When the Hawkeyes return to the mat later this month, Brands said it will be Gambrall's call as to whether he stays at 197 or returns to 184 pounds.
"That's up to Grant," said Brands. "Right now, that's what we're seeing."
The Hawkeyes have 20 days off from competition before returning to action in Evanston, and it will be a time where the team can make strides.
"We have a little bit of a break, and we have to address some issues," said Brands. "We have the Midlands on Dec. 29, and we are going to find out a lot more about where we're at in national terms. I am looking forward to the Midlands, and I know our guys are too.
"We had a huge letdown there (last year), and we got it ironed out, but we don't want to deal with letdowns."
The Midlands Championship will be held at Northwestern's Welsh-Ryan Arena on Dec. 29-30.