Blown leads cost wrestler Ethen Lofthouse

BY SAM LOUWAGIE | MARCH 02, 2011 7:20 AM

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Ask any Iowa wrestler, and he’ll tell you that the seeds of a tournament don’t really matter. Head coach Tom Brands said he didn’t pay much attention to them, and Tony Ramos shrugged off being given a third seed in the unofficial preliminary seedings released on Monday, despite having an undefeated Big Ten record.

“I don’t pay much attention to the seeds,” Ramos said. “They really mean nothing.”

Nonetheless, the path to a Big Ten Tournament championship is more difficult as a fifth seed than as a second. And a second seed is what Brands suggested redshirt freshman Ethen Lofthouse could have been at the Big Ten championships on March 5-6.

Lofthouse had some strong victories this season. He scored a takedown with 17 seconds left to earn a 3-1 victory on Jan. 22 over Ohio State’s Nick Heflin, who will likely wrestle as a No. 2 seed this weekend. He pulled off a crucial 4-3 upset of Mike Benefiel on Jan. 16 to help preserve a tie against Oklahoma State.

But a few late-match letdowns offset those wins, and a 3-4 Big Ten record made Lofthouse the fifth seed at 174 pounds in the tournament — Iowa’s second-lowest seeded weight.

He was taken down to his back in the third period against Minnesota’s Scott Glasser, giving up five quick points and the lead in a 7-5 loss. He gave up a late lead in losing 6-5 to Purdue’s Luke Manuel. And a 6-5 loss on Dec. 4 to Michigan State’s Curran Jacobs — who is eighth in the preliminary seedings — further hurt his case for a favorable ranking.

Brands said Lofthouse simply needs to continue to do what he’s been doing, and better results will come in close matches.

“He’s doing some good things in those [losses],” Brands said. “If you’re doing the right thing and not having success, then you just keep doing the right thing, and you’ll have success. It’s really that simple for him.”

Lofthouse’s teammate and uncle, Luke Lofthouse, said Ethen Lofthouse has eased up late in matches.

“He’s got to attack from the beginning whistle all the way through the end,” Luke Lofthouse said. “The matches he lost, it was because he started to pull back on the throttle a bit, maybe be a little more conservative.”

Ethen Lofthouse could get a chance to atone for some of his close losses this weekend. If the preliminary seedings don’t change, he will begin the tournament against Purdue’s Manuel.

Luke Lofthouse said his nephew is capable of beating higher-ranked opponents if he can avoid the third-period letdowns that have cost him this season.

“A lot of it’s practice,” Luke Lofthouse said. “You’ve got to do it in the practice room before you can do it in competition. Being able to do it for a two-hour practice gives you a lot of belief and trust in what you’ve done, so you can make it through a seven-minute match.”

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