Iowa wrestlers not fazed by stalling calls or ranked opponents
Referee Mike Exline made an unusual number of stalling calls during the Iowa wrestling team's second and third dual meets at the Iowa City Duals on Nov. 25 in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
But while some may be concerned that the abundance of stalling calls could be the result of a recent NCAA rule change, Iowa head coach Tom Brands said he believes they were the result of Exline's interpretation of the rule.
The definition of stalling was slightly vague in 2010, but a clear definition was included in the rule book when it was amended prior to this season. Stalling is defined in the 2011 rule book as "one or both wrestlers attempting to avoid wrestling action as an offensive or defensive strategy."
Brands said he believes Exline took too many liberties to call stalling at Iowa City Duals.
"I'm not sure that the rules — as they were interpreted by that particular referee — are how they were supposed to be interpreted," he said. "That referee is notorious for calling stalling, and these new rules probably gave him justification in his own mind."
While Brands disagreed with the number of warnings issued, stalling doesn't fit well into Iowa's "always attack" philosophy.
"If you don't stay in the center of the mat, you're going to get dinged," he said. "You have to do your job, and you have to wrestle where your best chance to win is."
But Brands said the large number of stalling violations from last weekend's matches shouldn't cause alarm.
"The point is we're going to have an NCAA official in this [upcoming] event," Brands said, referring to Exline's absence from recent NCAA Tournaments. "It will be called more like it will be later on in the year, when the national tournament comes around."
No. 2 Ramos to challenge Illinois' No. 3 Futrell
The 133-pound match between No. 1 Iowa and No. 6 Illinois on Friday will be tough — Iowa's No. 2-ranked Tony Ramos is set to wrestle No. 3 B.J. Futrell — the reigning Big Ten Wrestler of the Week.
Ramos stands 1-1 against Futrell in college after beating him in a 6-2 decision at the 2011 Big Ten Tournament in March.
But that win gives Ramos momentum going into this weekend.
"It was more of a mental win," he said. "I've wrestled him since we were 5 or 6, and I don't think I ever beat him. I finally got over that hump. Big win."
Despite the pressure of the ranked matchup, Brands said Ramos — as are the other Hawks — is preparing for this weekend just like any other meet.
"Our guys are pretty grounded and focused and do things from the point of view of being motivated and doing the right thing," Brands said. "Regardless of who the opponent is."
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