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Evans prepared to go for pins at National Duals

BY MOLLY IRENE OLMSTEAD | FEBRUARY 09, 2012 7:20 AM

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Iowa wrestler Mike Evans pinned Minnesota's 14th-ranked Cody Yohn in 6:02 on Jan. 29. He pinned Wisconsin's 12th-ranked Ben Jordan in 3:23 a week later.

A redshirt freshman, Evans is the No. 8 165-pounder in the country and finished the regular season with a 20-4 record (11-3 Big Ten).

Evans has scored one technical fall, four major decisions, and six pins this season. He'll try to add more bonus points to his name at the National Duals regional in Ames this weekend.

Head coach Tom Brands said Evans was "gutsy" after he pinned Jordan, the Badgers' only ranked wrestler. Evans and Jordan had met previously — at the 2010 Midlands Tournament, when Evans wrestled unattached as a true freshman, and at the same tournament in 2011. Evans won a 6-2 decision the first time he faced him. The second time, he won a 13-3 major decision. The third time, Evans pinned him.

"I tell you what — you watch that match, that's not an automatic," Brands said. "That's a tough opponent. And the gap keeps getting wider. That's a tribute to Mike Evans' state of mind. That guy [Jordan] is not a pushover wrestler."

Teammate Matt McDonough also praised Evans for his pins. McDonough credited Iowa's narrow 19-17 win over Minnesota to the bonus points Evans earned when he pinned Yohn.

"I put Mike Evans … in the middle of the spotlight for going out there and dominating for seven minutes," said McDonough, who didn't score any bonus points against the Gophers. "And in Evans' case, it doesn't even take seven minutes."

Evans is humble about his recent dominance, despite all the praise he's received for ending 25 percent of his matches in pins this year.

When asked about pinning Jordan, Evans said he simply saw an opportunity and took it.

"That's all that happened, really," he said. "[Pinning guys back-to-back] is what I can do when I wrestle my match and stay calm and work my own moves … I'm always looking for pins — it just so happens that I got two in a row."

Evans seems to be a shoo-in for the 165-pound spot on Iowa's roster heading into tournament time; he wrestled at the middleweight in every one of Iowa's dual matches.

But he's still trying to prove himself worthy of the 165 spot for National Duals, Big Ten meet, and beyond.

"You never have your own spot," Evans said. "I still have to show up to practice, I've still got to outwork the guys at 165 … I've still got to protect what I've already earned."

Brands said the young wrestler needs to focus on preparing for his matches and being ready to go.

"You've got to believe that you're one bad man," Brands said. "When be believes he's a bad man, and he gets ready like a bad man, then he's one bad man."

Evans has shown some inconsistency this season — faults in preparation and failures to attack early led to a seventh-place finish at Midlands and each of his four losses. But Brands said he thinks his grappler will walk into Ames for National Duals like he's a bad man who's ready to pin.

"Is he going to pin everybody? I don't know if I can speak for him, but I'm sure he's going to try," Brands said. "He's wired that way — he's a pinner."

Follow DI wrestling reporter Molly Irene Olmstead on Twitter.


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