Notebook: No. 3 Iowa wrestling looks ahead to showdown with No. 1 Penn State


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The recognition he’s received means he’s doing something good. But Nick Moore doesn’t want to be just another weekly honoree. He wants to keep it that way.

“I know the feeling of success,” he said Tuesday. “That feeling should motivate me to get that feeling more often.”

The Hawkeye sophomore was recognized on Monday as TheMat.com’s Wrestler of the Week, and he was awarded the same recognition from the Big Ten on Tuesday. The two honors were given to the Iowa City native due in large part to his 8-2 victory over Minnesota’s Cody Yohn on Jan. 26.

But Moore, now ranked 13th at 165-pounds by Intermat, knows these impressive merits don’t really matter all that much — especially when he looks ahead to his next opponent.

Moore has the daunting task of shaking hands with, and wrestling against, Penn State’s returning NCAA champion David Taylor on Friday night in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. In front of a nearly sold out crowd that will likely be wearing nothing but black, Moore knows that backing down isn’t the answer.

“I have to go out there and fight for seven minutes,” he said. “Or however long. I just have to wrestle the whole time without fear.”

The Iowa City West product’s message is synonymous with that of his heavier grappling teammates. Between the weights of 165 and 197 pounds, the No. 1-ranked Nittany Lions field three returning NCAA finalists.

Along with Taylor, Ed Ruth is a returning NCAA champion, but he has moved up a weight from 174 to 184. Quentin Wright, a returning finalist, also bumped up from 184 to 197. The odd man out is Penn State’s new man at 174: Matt Brown, who’s no slouch — he is currently ranked fourth at his weight class.

The formidable challenge will likely bring the best out of each Hawkeye wrestler kwho steps out onto Mediacom Mat. Despite the possibility of the added pressure of the dual being at home, Iowa head wrestling coach Tom Brands firmly believes there’s as much pressure on his heavier guys as there is on the rest of the team.

“If you focus on being the best that you can be, the pressure becomes good and healthy,” he said. “That’s part of being a competitor.”

Burak feels his improvement

197-pounder Nathan Burak has shed the fear that once had a hold on him in the earlier parts of the season.

The freshman once looked timid and nervous on the mat, but he has recently shown his ability to take more sound shots. He’s attacking more, and he has become much more comfortable since his first appearance in an Iowa singlet.

“I’m not as nervous as I once was,” Burak said. “It’s my presence on the mat feels a lot different.”
The result has been a 13-8 record, but of those eight losses, five have been to ranked foes — three of those by a single point — with the most recent coming in overtime to Minnesota’s No. 12 Scott Schiller.

The strides of improvement, as well as confidence, have been evident, and they will be put to a serious test on Friday night when Burak takes on Penn State’s Wright.

“He’s definitely beatable,” Burak said. “I just have to go out there, stick to my game plan, and good things should happen.”

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