Wrestlers try to stay unbeaten


Around the Dan Gable Wrestling Complex, automatic isn’t a word the No. 1 Iowa wrestling team likes to throw around heedlessly.

But 125-pounder Charlie Falck is feeling pretty good about the Hawkeyes’ chances against No. 18 Indiana and No. 19 Northwestern this weekend.

“We’re not going to lose,” the senior said before Wednesday’s practice.

Indeed, an untimely upset is something Iowa cannot afford with the Hawkeyes seeking to secure its second-straight Big Ten regular-season title outright with an unblemished overall record.
Falck, however, has his own mission when Iowa (22-0, 6-0) grapples with the Hoosiers (15-5-1, 2-3-1) at 6 p.m. today, and the Wildcats (9-6-1, 2-3-1) on Feb. 22.

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Tonight against Indiana, he faces defending NCAA champion Angel Escobedo — ranked No. 3 at 125 and perhaps the No. 1 seed in the upcoming Big Ten championships. Two days later, Falck is slated to wrestle Northwestern’s No. 4 lightweight Brandon Precin.

Escobedo, also the defending conference champion, is currently on a five-match winning streak and stands 18-2 overall. His last victory came on Sunday in sudden victory against Precin, who was the previous No. 3 in the weight class having won 21 of his last 22 contests.

“You know, it’s good, because it gears you up,” Falck said. “You have back-to-back tough matches, and that’s what it’s going to be like in the Big Tens and nationals.

“It’s boom, boom. It’s two hard matches in a row, and it kind of hardens you for the battles.”
For the final two battles of the season, the Hawkeyes may once again be without their No. 7 heavyweight in junior Dan Erekson.

Erekson has missed the past three dual meets after suffering an ankle sprain on Feb. 6 against Michigan State. Iowa head coach Tom Brands called the injury a “low-priority injury,” and he was mildly confident Erekson would return to competition over the weekend.

The 285-pounder had his ankle taped at practice on Wednesday, and he is listed alongside redshirt freshman Jordan Johnson on Iowa’s probable lineup. Johnson managed his first victory of the season against Purdue on Feb. 13.

“I would say [Erekson is] going to go,” Brands said. “He’s sore, though. We’re not putting him in harm’s away.”

Meanwhile, with two weeks remaining until the Big Ten meet, Brands said, emphasis has been placed on development.

Once ranked No. 1 at 141 pounds before dropping a 5-0 decision to Wisconsin’s Zach Tanelli in January, senior Alex Tsirtsis knows the pains of progression.

He worked himself sweaty on Wednesday, executing short situational drills with the coaching staff to prepare for the upcoming March tournaments.

“You just have to be continuing to look to improve,” Tsirtsis said. “That’s a mentality that you have to have if you want to keep evolving yourself and getting better.

“That’s what really makes a sport worthwhile. If you’re just going to go out there and worry about records and stuff like that, I don’t think you’re going to reach the potential that you’re capable of reaching.”

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