Wrestlers struggle from the bottom

BY SAM LOUWAGIE | MARCH 09, 2011 7:20 AM

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Tom Brands dropped down to his hands and knees in front of a throng of reporters at Welsh-Ryan Arena, engaging in an impromptu technique session on March 5.

“If I’m down here,” Brands said from the starting position. “And I get up to here,” he said as he stood up, “I can’t go back down to here,” he said as he dropped to his belly.

The fifth-year wrestling head coach was providing a lesson on how to wrestle from the bottom position. The inability of his wrestlers to get out from the bottom for an escape point, especially in the tournament’s semifinal round, proved to be costly for the Hawkeyes.

Redshirt freshman Tony Ramos and senior Aaron Janssen both lost matches that went into tiebreaker sessions, meaning both had 30 seconds to earn an escape and advance to the finals.

Ramos dropped a 3-1 decision to Wisconsin’s Tyler Graff, and Janssen fell, 3-2, to the Badgers’ top-seeded Andrew Howe.

“I let it slip away,” Janssen said. “And I need to capitalize on occasions like that.”

It wasn’t only tiebreaker sessions in which an inability to escape hurt the Hawkeyes. Montell Marion lost his semifinal match in overtime, and Ethen Lofthouse lost to top-seeded Ed Ruth of Penn State by 1 point in regulation.

Both Marion and Lofthouse were ridden for the entire second period of their matches, which kept them from scoring an escape point and essentially guaranteed their opponent a point for riding time, which requires one minute of control from the top position.

Lofthouse lamented the second period of that match.

“I watched film on the way home, and I can see what I’m doing wrong,” he said. “Just a little bit more pizzazz and just a second more of energy, and I’m out — numerous times. I watched that match, and I don’t know how he was holding me down. Because I’m pretty much out almost the whole period.”

Brands praised Marion for his work from the bottom in Marion’s third-place match against Illinois’ Jimmy Kennedy, the day after his semifinal loss.

“After Kennedy took him down, Montell Marion was a bearcat to keep down,” Brands said. “Two, three, four explosive moves, and he’s out. You can’t get to your feet and then slow down. You’ve got to get to your feet, and there have got to be hip-whips and explosions and using momentum against your opponent.”

In Ramos’ third-place match against Illinois’ B.J. Futrell, he saw the benefit Iowa’s opponents were getting when they kept the Hawkeyes on the mat. After scoring two first-period takedowns, Ramos held Futrell down for almost the whole second period, locking up a riding time point and tiring Futrell.

Ramos said he is often tempted to think working on riding is “a waste of time,” but the coaches have been persistently urging him to do it.

“The coaches have been on me and on me about it,” he said. “You’re going to score a point if you keep him down for a minute, and you’re going to wear him out. I finally put it to use. And that guy was dead tired.”

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