Workouts with Doyle strengthen Iowa heavyweight wrestler


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When Bobby Telford shot in on an opponent’s legs last season, he sometimes struggled to lift them up and record a takedown. When done correctly, it looks a little bit like a football tackle.

Hawkeye wrestling coaches knew where to send him for help.

“We put him in touch with [Hawkeye football strength coach] Chris Doyle,” head coach Tom Brands said. “And Chris Doyle has, as you know, I call it world-renowned expertise in the strength department. We needed to strengthen some things.”

Telford had an extremely promising redshirt freshman season. He finished fifth at the NCAA Tournament, earning All-American status in his first year as a starter. He also was a Big Ten finalist and went 29-9 overall on the season.

But it wasn’t smooth sailing that whole way. Telford struggled through a four-match losing streak and then lost his starting job to senior Blake Rasing.

One of the big issues was finishing shots. The Hockessin, Del., native drew early season praise in 2011 for his quickness and mobility, which were unusual for a heavyweight. But coaches saw he didn’t always have the strength to finish the takedowns that he had started with that quickness.

“One of his deficits last season was back strength,” assistant coach Kurt Backes said. “He couldn’t finish sometimes on the single leg. So we talked to Coach Doyle about it, he looked at some tape with Coach Brands. And he said, ‘Well, that’s his weakness right there. I can fix that.’ ”

So Telford spent the summer in the football complex with Doyle. He wasn’t the first Iowa heavyweight to do it — the Hawkeyes have sent former Big Ten champions Rasing and Dan Erekson to Camp Doyle as well.

Telford said he worked mostly on hip explosion exercises, like squats. He has remained at about the same weight but said more of it is muscle now. And coaches say the results have been apparent.

Backes said Telford is like “a freight train” in practices this season.

“It’s a huge factor,” Telford said. “Getting in on shots and exploding up, taking kids off their feet, all the things we talk about. That was something to improve on, and it will help a lot … [Doyle] is a great guy. He cut me no slack.”

The Hawkeyes are hoping the strength training will help Telford make a leap from fringe All-American to national contender, joining Matt McDonough, Tony Ramos, and Derek St. John at that level.

And they also no longer have an accomplished wrestler such as Rasing to turn to if Telford falters. But the sophomore said he is confident he learned from his brief struggles last season.

“It’s just about staying strong. That’s what I got away from at some parts of last year,” Telford said. “I kind of underestimated how strong I am in some positions. I need to get there more often, and just push the pace.”

And his head coach said for as much mental skill goes into wrestling, sometimes it’s just about being strong.

“If you watched his wrestling, there were some things left undone,” Brands said. “You address those things mentally, you address those things technically and positionally. But you also have to address them strength-wise. We like how he has addressed those things.”

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