Grapplers eye improvement

BY J.T. BUGOS | DECEMBER 10, 2009 7:30 AM

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Letdowns are frequent after emotional matches. The Iowa wrestling team will hope to avoid one when it takes on Northern Iowa at 7 p.m. today in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

On Sunday, the top-ranked Hawkeyes dispatched second-ranked Iowa State, 18-16, on the road in what could be their biggest event of the season. The team had just three days following that meet to prepare for the Panthers.

“It’s a short turnaround,” senior 174-pounder Jay Borschel said. “Guys have to turn around right away. Some of the guys who lost have to get over that quickly and get back on track.”

Borschel said he doesn’t anticipate a hangover from the win over Iowa State. But he noted in the past, the team has lagged in its matchup with Northern Iowa.

The Marion native couldn’t quite come up with an explanation for the Hawkeyes’ less-than-stellar performances against the Panthers in recent years, but he said his teammates are focused on making sure they go into their upcoming break on a high note.

The Hawkeyes want to keep getting better, the All-American said, and tonight’s showdown is another opportunity to do that.

Borschel was right in the middle of the four losses suffered in the last five weight classes at Hilton Coliseum, providing Iowa’s only win in the last half of the meet. For him, individual preparation is a large part of experiencing team success.

“Wrestling is a selfish sport, so I just worry about my match and my preparation,” he said. “Things fall as they do, and all I can worry about is me. If everyone else is ready to go, and they all take care of business, we’re going to be fine.”

Fellow senior Daniel Dennis said he isn’t dwelling on what happened on Sunday. He defeated Cyclone senior Nick Fanthorpe, 10-8, in sudden victory, but he said he could have done better.

After watching his match, Dennis said, he shouldn’t have given up so many points, and he needs to increase his awareness both on the edge of the mat and in other positions.

“I’m just trying to move forward,” the 133-pounder said. “We’re going into the Northern Iowa meet, and we’re not overlooking any opponent. They have a capable guy who’s going to be contesting to win the match, so I’ll have to be ready.”

Dennis also rejected the notion Iowa will suffer a letdown. The Ingleside, Ill., native said the Hawkeyes will have all pistons firing, and one way or another, they will find the emotion necessary to come out on top for the ninth-straight time this season. He believes the Iowa State dual will help the Hawkeyes’ development.

Iowa head coach Tom Brands was less than worried about how his team would respond to the quick turnaround. He said seven of the grapplers in the lineup have gone through the closely scheduled in-state duals three times before.

But when asked about his team’s goal of widening the gap, his response was quick: “We have work to do.”

Borschel said the Hawkeyes are always looking to distance themselves from the competition, and Dennis said Iowa didn’t succeed in doing so against Iowa State.

“Our goal is to separate ourselves, and that’s what we’re going into Northern Iowa looking to do,” Dennis said. “We’re looking to put an exclamation point on every weight class. We’re looking to make a statement by doing as well as we can because we didn’t do that as much at Iowa State.

“We’re looking to prove ourselves more and dominate more than anything else.”

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