Top-ranked wrestlers face No. 2 Iowa State

BY J.T. BUGOS | DECEMBER 04, 2009 7:30 AM

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Iowa head wrestling coach Tom Brands spoke to his team before practice on Wednesday, emphasizing that the Hawkeyes would need a sense of urgency this weekend when they travel to Ames to face the second-ranked Iowa State Cyclones on Dec. 6.

In a No. 1 versus No. 2 matchup, Iowa doesn’t feel any pressure. Senior 149-pounder Brent Metcalf said there must be added awareness — especially when pitted against a ranked opponent.

Brands said pressure to perform is only a factor when wrestlers let it become one.

“It’s something you deal with every day,” the fourth-year Iowa head coach said. “You deal with it, you get ready to wrestle, and you wrestle. Pressure is the same on both sides, and pressure is a catalyst.”

Wrestling in a hostile Hilton Coliseum won’t faze the Hawkeyes, either. In fact, Metcalf said, the unfriendly crowd will make the meet more fun.

Two years ago, Iowa ventured to Ames and upset the then-top-ranked Cyclone party, and the two-time Big Ten champion enjoys going into another team’s territory and winning — the biggest factor to quieting a raucous crowd.

Metcalf said Iowa needs to win in weight classes the team is favored in and win the ones they aren’t.
Senior 197-pounder Chad Beatty noted the reason he is in the sport is for the big moments, such as the one he’ll experience this weekend. The Wilton, Iowa, native said the Hawkeyes draw big crowds and compete under harsh conditions regularly, so he embraces a packed house.

Beatty will wrestle one of Iowa State’s four returning All-Americans in senior Jake Varner. Currently No. 1 in his weight class, Varner is the reigning 197-pound national champion.

Beatty hasn’t faced Varner during his career, but he is confident his coaches have prepared him well, and he is excited about the opportunity.

Brands said the wrestlers won’t need to be perfect to be victorious. Rather, he’s looking for them to be tough.

“We need to be tough in tough situations,” he said. “Toughness is what wins a lot of these matches. It’s a big match, but it’s going to come down to toughness.”

Additionally, all the accolades each team has received become null, Brands said. If the Hawkeyes are ready, compete at a high level, and wrestle to their potential, he said he likes the chances of Iowa earning numerous victories.

In order for the Hawkeyes to widen the gap against a squad ranked directly behind them, Brands said, they must build their leads through the seven minutes of regulation.

Iowa has won the last four meetings with its in-state rival, including a 20-15 win last year in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Hawkeyes are confident that if they’re ready to go when they step on the mat in Hilton Coliseum, the marquee match will give the squad five-straight wins.

“We have to wrestle smart and hard, and if we do that, good things will happen,” Beatty said. “We have to go out and perform. Nothing is given to us, and they aren’t going to lie down. We know they’re hungry, and they’re coming after us. We have to stick it right back to them.”

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