Dec. 27, 2011
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- University of Iowa head wrestling coach Tom Brands said his Hawkeyes will be tested this week at the 2011 Midlands Championships.
"You can say we've done a good job so far, but we've only been tested maybe once," said Brands during media gathering Tuesday inside the Dan Gable Wrestling Complex. "It's the most important event up until this point because it's the next event, and it's a big event. We have to do a better job of being consistent all the way through, more so than last year."
In 2010, the Hawkeyes went to Evanston looking for its 22nd Midlands Championships title, but instead returned to Iowa City with a fourth place finish and zero individual champions. Iowa had one runner-up, three fifth place, and three sixth place finishes.
"Is that ever acceptable? I don't know if it was acceptable last year," said Brands. "When you have a fourth place finish, chances are there are no champions. Chances are there are a lot of sixth, seventh, one match from placing. You don't score a lot of points getting sixth, seventh, fifth. You score points by putting guys in the finals.
"A couple of years ago we had a record team performance. How many individual champions did we have then? Do the math. We want champions, not because it is Iowa wrestling, not because we want to flex our muscles as a team, but because that's what our individuals train to be. Bottom line."
"We want champions, not because it is Iowa wrestling, not because we want to flex our muscles as a team, but because that's what our individuals train to be. Bottom line."
UI head coach Tom Brands
The Hawkeyes will bring 16 wrestlers to Welsh-Ryan Arena to compete in their designated 15 spots. Sophomore Derek St. John, who injured his knee in his 3-1 victory over Northern Iowa's David Bonin on Dec. 8, will travel with the team, but not compete.
"He's looking good. He'll be on the trip, but he won't be wrestling," said Brands. "If he had to wrestle, he could. The time for an injury is no time, but if you're going to have one, going into a 10-15 day break isn't a bad thing. The biggest thing is continuing to get him stronger and not rush it."
Freshman Nick Moore will step in at 157 to replace St. John, giving him a chance to prove himself.
"It's an opportunity for Moore to compete because he's in the lineup," said Brands. "He's one of our guys that is not able to show his stuff because he's behind a guy at 165. Now he has an opportunity to prove how tough he is. He has a chance to seize the moment."
If things pan out according to seed, junior Matt McDonough will have an opportunity to avenge his lone loss of the season against Illinois' Jesse Delgado. The Illini freshman downed McDonough 11-7 in overtime on Dec. 2.
"It's probably natural to look ahead to that match," said Brands. "He sees it enough to know that it will come when it comes. It may come during this tournament, and probably will, but you don't really put the cart before the horse that's for sure. He's good about those things."
Aside from winning, Brands would like to see emergence from his Hawkeyes.
"We have to sort some things out at weight classes," he said. "We have 10 weight classes and still how many names. You can still put 12-14 names in those weight classes, still. You'd like guys to emerge, and I am not sure they're emerging yet.
"We need to get a lineup solid. We've had some good performances as a team, we have firepower and this is another chance to show off that firepower. Now instead of going to an open or a dual meet, we're going to a tournament that's two days long and the competition is quite stiff. These guys want to prove themselves."
The Hawkeyes are ready for the test.