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Commentary: Wrestling takes no prisoners

BY RYAN YOUNG | FEBRUARY 16, 2009 7:50 AM

Here is a message to Indiana, Northwestern, and the rest of the Big Ten: For the last five weeks of the season: You better bring more than your best shot when you’re up against Iowa.

You better deliver an immediate knockout blow.

Don’t toy around. Don’t sneer and scoff. Don’t expect to watch the Hawkeyes fall after getting them to stagger. They won’t.

Case in point: No. 11 Minnesota, which started Sunday’s dual meet with a rare triumph at 125 pounds, a pair of near-victories at 133 and 141, and had a chance to steal wins in the four ensuing matches between 157 and heavyweight.

Lady Luck might as well have kissed Golden Gopher head coach J Robinson right on the nose at that point. Instead, she dropped a sack of anvils straight on his lap and said, “I’ll see you in March.”

But overall, the 10,095 fans inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena saw an entertaining show on Sunday.
They saw Iowa’s opening act in tragedy as Charlie Falck, the night’s designated hometown hero, dropped a 5-4 decision against Minnesota redshirt freshman Zach Sanders in the last eight seconds on Senior Day.

They saw the Hawkeyes’ other starting senior, Alex Tsirtsis, tally his final home win with the help of a 1:16 ride after letting sophomore Mike Thorn knot up the bout at 1 with under 30 seconds left in the third period.

They saw stud 149-pounder Brent Metcalf seize his 14th fall of the season in 4:38, a feat suggesting the he is a lock for repeating as both Big Ten champion and NCAA champion. Who knows, maybe he’ll add a second Dan Hodge trophy to his award cabinet.

He probably won’t like me saying that. Metcalf doesn’t like to be thought of as an automatic. After all, Iowa City’s “Man of Steel Will” last got pinned to the mat more than a year ago against North Carolina State’s Darrion Caldwell.

Like Iowa over the course of the season, he has proved he is mortal — only no man and no team has been able to find either one’s Achilles’ heel. That’s because it changes every week.

In one dual, the Hawkeyes may collectively struggle on bottom. The next, they might lack the confidence to score points at a few weights. A month later, Iowa may just be ready to snooze on a lackluster opponent.

The wrestlers say it doesn’t happen. They like to say they prepare for every bout like they’re about to battle on a raised stage for a national title.

But from one student to another, that’s tough. With midterms, projects, and papers, college professors can be just as demanding as the Brands brothers — except every day is a test with them.
So if you’re thinking about tangling with Iowa, you better be prepared to go to school.


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