Wrestler’s big win results in rare burst of emotion

BY J.T. BUGOS | FEBRUARY 07, 2011 7:10 AM

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Luke Lofthouse pumped his arms into the air, his flexed biceps urging the Iowa faithful to celebrate his victory with him. Lofthouse had just upended No. 5 Matt Powless of Indiana, 10-5.

His takedown with three seconds left had brought Carver-Hawkeye Arena to its feet, but his uncharacteristic outburst of emotion ignited the 7,067 in attendance that saw No. 2 Iowa dominate No. 18 Indiana, 35-6, on Feb. 4.

After the match, Lofthouse couldn’t give a reason for his display — “It just happened,” he said — and he said he could only vaguely remember slapping hands with Montell Marion.

“Lofthouse got some firepower in him,” Marion said. “I’ll tell you that right now. He’s tough. I had to shake that [hand-slap] off.”

Lofthouse said his celebration came in part because of pure excitement and energy, but also because of how well he has been wrestling lately. The 25-year old grappler has won his last three matches after a narrow defeat to Oklahoma State’s third-ranked Clayton Foster, 5-3, on Jan. 16.

“Things are starting to click for me a little bit,” the 197-pound senior said. “That’s kind of cliché, but I’m starting to feel really well in my wrestling. I’ve been on the losing end of a few of those matches, where it was close and it could have gone either way.

“To get that win this time of year — it’s big for momentum, it’s big for your confidence, it’s big for a lot of things.”

Though the after-match celebration came so spontaneously he could barely recall it, Lofthouse’s recollection of his performance during the upset was clear.

“I started off slowly,” he said, his stoicism having returned. “There are opportunities in the first period for a couple more takedowns, but the pace was high. I think that’s what ended up helping me toward the end of the match is there was a lot of action going on in that first period.

“Even though I wasn’t scoring as many points as I wanted to, you know that if you push that first three minutes, that second and third period the guy is going to have a hard time really being able to wrestle with you.”

After allowing the first takedown in the match, Lofthouse clamped down on Powless and went to his own offense. The Avon, Utah, native didn’t get taken down again and recorded four of his own.

The key, he said, was slowing the match down. The pace must still be high on the mat, but in his mind, the tempo must be unhurried.

“Everything is in your control when you’re out there,” Lofthouse said. “And that’s the biggest thing for me right now.”

He certainly controlled the match after Powless recorded his only takedown. That was evident in the fact that he brought the Hoosier to the mat with three seconds remaining, even with the match already in hand.

“That’s how you win matches like that,” head coach Tom Brands said. “You got to get to them, and then you’ve got to keep getting to them. If you remember, he gave up the first takedown. It’s a lesson in a lot of ways to keep plugging away … Continue to build, and that’s good stuff.

“It’s a good template; it’s a good lesson on how to beat good guys.”

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