For wrestlers, 133 up for grabs


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Their approaches are nearly opposite.

One uses quickness and an aggressive offensive style to routinely pile up large numbers of points, as evidenced by his six takedowns in a major decision against Iowa State’s Brandon Jones on Dec. 3.

The other is methodical and opportunistic, pouncing on mistakes and keeping matches close, even against heavily favored opponents. This was apparent on Sunday against Oklahoma State, where preventing No. 1 Jordan Oliver from scoring bonus points prevented a Hawkeye loss.

The contrast in style between redshirt freshman Tony Ramos, the high scorer, and junior Tyler Clark, the tough defender, is at the center of their competition for the starting job at 133 pounds.

Iowa head coach Tom Brands had long pointed to the Midlands Championship on Dec. 29-30 as the tournament that would settle individual competitions for the rest of the year. But the picture at 133 was muddled, rather than clarified, at the tournament when Ramos and Clark faced off twice, each winning once by two points or fewer.

Clark said the matches at Midlands highlighted the differences between the two.

“I’m confident in my ability to ride and to get away,” Clark said. “But my intensity and my explosiveness needs to pick up on my feet, and that’s a strong point of his. So that’s where the gap will be closed or found in our matches.”

Brands wouldn’t say whether he wanted one of the two to seize a more permanent hold of the job. But Ramos said he expected that was the case.

“I’m pretty sure they have an idea in their head,” Ramos said. “I think we’re going to find out who the main guy is pretty soon, as we start getting in to these Big Ten matches.”

Iowa’s final seven duals, starting Saturday against Ohio State, are against Big Ten opponents, which means a winner of the competition may emerge soon.

Whichever wrestler gets the start on Saturday will have an opportunity to make a statement. His likely opponent, Ohio State sophomore Ian Paddock, is one of three ranked wrestlers on the rebuilding 2-5 Buckeyes.

Ramos started in a majority of dual meets before the Midlands. But on Sunday against Oklahoma State, Clark received the nod. The Iowa State transfer said he was disappointed with the way he was outwrestled from the standing position. But his ability to hold the match to a regular decision — rather than a major — proved significant in the 15-15 tie.

Ramos won the Glen Brand Open in Omaha, and he said he benefited from the additional mat time and winning experience.

“There’s a plan behind that, and it’s good for both guys,” Brands said. “Ramos won the tournament, and Clark gets a big match.”

For now, Ramos and Clark hope their different strengths will be enough to grab a firm hold of the spot. But Ramos said he doesn’t necessarily see his teammate as competition.

“I try not to even worry about it and just go out and practice, because I feel the coaches are going to send out the guy who gives them the best shot to win,” he said. “I got faith in those guys, so I just go out and do what they tell me to do.”

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