Wrestling not dissatisfied, but wants domination

BY J.T. BUGOS | MARCH 11, 2010 7:30 AM

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Iowa head coach Tom Brands shot down on Wednesday the notion that the Iowa wrestling program views anything less than domination as unacceptable.

Those words were put in his mouth after the Hawkeyes’ won their third-consecutive Big Ten championship, he said, and neither he nor his staff thought last weekend’s results were unacceptable.
But dissatisfaction remained.

“Because everybody is about winning the championship, there’s always going to be some disappointment,” Brands said. “That and the fact that this program is about domination. This program doesn’t take injury time, this program tries to win by large margins, more than not. Meaning that instead of playing it safe, we’re going after bonus points, but in a smart way.”

Brands said the philosophy of dominance he preaches is what separates Iowa when the score gets tight, but it doesn’t automatically widen the gap every time.

The one good thing about the Hawkeyes, Brands said, is they know they won’t receive any gifts from the competition.

“This team has shown it has a lot of firepower,” the fourth-year Iowa coach said. “The way they wrestle is the way you would want a team to wrestle — aggressive and being able to come back from a little adversity here and there.”

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Adversity at the Big Ten championships came partly in the form of an anti-Iowa crowd. Senior Daniel Dennis used the slanted crowd to his benefit, though.

“It’s motivating at both extremes,” the 133-pounder said. “You get 20,000 people cheering against you, it’s going to fire you up. It’s you against the world. And you get 15,500 cheering for you here, and it’s going to fire you up and get you ready for battle.”

Dennis also revealed the secret to Iowa’s long-standing success: There is no secret. Instead, he credited the coaching staff getting 10 guys to believe in themselves and expect a lot out of themselves.

The coaches reveal what a wrestler is capable of doing, the Ingleside, Ill., native said, and that clears the way for success.

Fellow senior Dan Erekson said he wants that success to continue through March 20, for the sake of him and the 10 other seniors graduating.

“We all want to finish strong and at the top of our games,” the heavyweight said. “We want to look back at this and not be disappointed and be proud of what we did.”

Morningstar, Beatty expected to wrestle

Senior Ryan Morningstar will be on the mat for the national tournament despite defaulting during his third-place match at the Big Ten championships on Sunday because of an apparent knee injury.

Brands didn’t supply any specifics about Morningstar’s injury, but he said the 165-pounder remains mentally ready to compete.

“It doesn’t matter what the facts are about the knee,” he said. “Or is it his ankle? I mean, that’s how you look at it. He’s very tough-minded. Stubborn in a good way.”

Chad Beatty also injury defaulted in his final two matches at Big Ten championships to protect his health. However, the decision wasn’t made by Beatty, and the senior grappler would have been on the mat if it were up to him, Brands said.

“When I first approached him on it, it was, ‘I’m going. I’m wrestling. I came here to win the tournament,’ ” Brands said. “We’re about the same thing, but we’re also about the next step, too.

That wasn’t necessarily what was best for the team, that was what was best for Chad Beatty.

“Certainly, we won’t repeat that at the national tournament. This is the one you wrestle all the way to the end.”

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