Lofthouse ready for Ruth, Burak may make season debut


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Ethen Lofthouse knows it’ll be tough. The second-ranked senior has wrestled No. 1 Ed Ruth plenty of times in the past, whether it was as little kids or at the college level, and the 184-pounders will add the next chapter to their story on Saturday night in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

In last season’s edition of the Iowa-Penn State dual at Carver, Lofthouse sat down because of his then-recent performance on the mat. Instead, Matt Gambrall dropped a 21-10 major decision to Ruth. The year before that — during each grappler’s sophomore campaign — Ruth topped Lofthouse at 174 pounds in a 10-1 decision in State College, Pa.

But Lofthouse isn’t focusing too much on the matches they have had in the past, he prefers to look at more recent film on Ruth; specifically Ruth’s first bout back from suspension because of a DUI charge. Ruth’s Nittany Lions wrestled Ohio State at home on Sunday morning and Ruth topped No. 12 Kenny Courts, 14-3.

“I know him pretty well,” Lofthouse said. “We watched the Penn State-Ohio State [dual] the other day.”

Ruth is the defending national champion at 184 pounds.

Is it time for Burak?

It’s been a lingering question for Tom Brands’ squad this season, as the nation’s 10th-ranked 197-pounder continues to be sidelined by an undisclosed injury. The sophomore warmed up for his team’s Dec. 12 dual with Buffalo in Carver, but Brands tabbed Sammy Brooks instead.

“I don’t know if he was ready, ready [for Buffalo],” Brands said. “If you ask him, he’ll tell you that he was.”

The Hawkeyes’ match notes listed both Burak and Brooks at 197, and it will presumably be a match-time decision on which wrestler faces off with No. 3 Morgan McIntosh. The Santa Ana, Calif., native has posted a 10-0 record so far in his sophomore campaign.

Brands said Burak is eager to get back on the mat, but he and his coaching staff will be very cautious with the injury he called “scary.”

“There are a lot of reasons the decision is made, so you know what? You don’t have to agree with it, but be on board with it,” the eighth-year head coach said. “And you know what? Be a man about it. And he’s been a man.”

The Penn State rivalry

Brands had some insight into the way the Big Ten worked to get this dual on the schedule, noting that it is good for the sport to have the two titans clash on a yearly basis.

“Where both programs are at now, [it makes sense],” Brands said. “If one of us starts to suck, then it probably doesn’t make sense. But because of where both programs are at now, it makes sense.”

Tony Ramos had an attitudes similar to his head coache’s. The senior said Penn State is one of Iowa’s biggest rivals, and he looks forward to the atmosphere in Carver on Saturday — a venue in which he has never lost.

“[Fans] know that [I’ve] never lost; they know that Carver is supposed to be a magical place.”

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