Dec. 20, 2013
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 -- Mike Evans hasn't literally been struck by lightning, but he has an idea of how that would feel.
The 174-pounder on the University of Iowa wrestling team said the "electricity was pumping through" him Feb. 1, 2013 when he came out on top of a last-second scramble to defeat Penn State's Matt Brown, 4-3, in a dual won by the Hawkeyes, 22-16, inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
"It got the crowd going last year," Evans said. "It's like getting shocked by lightning."
No. 1 Penn State (6-0 overall) returns to Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Saturday to take on the third-ranked Hawkeyes (6-0), with action beginning at 8:04 p.m. (CT). Iowa has won five of the last six meetings and leads the all-time series, 26-7-2.
"There are a lot of reasons to get excited about this one," UI head coach Tom Brands said. "Let's give our fans something to get excited about, that's what is important."
From 2008-10, Iowa won three NCAA Championships; from 2011-13, the Nittany Lions hoisted the top trophy. Penn State comes in with defending national champion Ed Ruth at 184 pounds; the Hawkeyes counter with defending champ Derek St. John at 157. The Nittany Lions also feature 2013 NCAA finalists Nico Megaludis at 125 and David Taylor at 165. Taylor, a three-time NCAA finalist, is 111-3 in his career; Megaludis is a two-time NCAA runner-up.
To Brands, that means opportunity.
"You have Ed Ruth coming to town, you have David Taylor coming to town, you have Penn State coming to town," he said. "You have a true freshman (Zain Retherford at 141 pounds) who just beat a two-time national champion coming to town, you have Nico Megaludis who wrestles hard, coming to town. We have opportunities to rise to the occasion."
The last three meetings between these two mat powers ended with the lower-ranked team coming out on top. Iowa hopes it can count on Carver-Hawkeye mystique to keep that streak going...as well as its 13-match home winning streak.
"It's something you're aware of and you can feed off it a little bit," Ramos said. "On the other end, the people coming in know that; they know you have never lost there, they know Carver is supposed to be a magical place, they have seen performances happen there like that."
One of the magical performances by Ramos at home was the last time Iowa and the Nittany Lions met. He pinned Jordan Conaway in 4:23.
"They're going to know what we do and they're going to know how to wrestle us," Ramos said. "We have to go out and force our will on them."
Clark, a freshman ranked fourth, hopes the dual begins at 125 pounds, where he will meet No. 3 Megaludis. Last season, competing unattached, Clark was 1-2 against ranked opponents, but the victory was a 6-1 decision against eventual national champion Jesse Delgado of Illinois. Six of Clark's nine wins this season have come by fall.
"I want to dominate and control my ties and my holds and get to my shots, stop his shots, get back to my stuff," Clark said. "I want to control the match from start to finish. It's a big match, a big opportunity to prove something to myself as well as others."
Penn State is coming off a 31-6 win against No. 6 Ohio State on Dec. 15. The final five weight classes for the Nittany Lions (165 to 285) are a combined 53-0 this season.
"We have some tough guys," countered Brands, whose 10 probable wrestlers have a season record of 88-6. "They are pretty confident in what they are getting into with this next event."