Clark returns in major fashion


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EVANSTON, Ill. — There was confusion in the air of Welsh-Ryan Arena before No. 2 Iowa beat Northwestern, 31-6. 125-pounders Cory Clark and Thomas Gilman were warming up with the same intensity — neither took a back seat or showed any signs they would not be in the lineup. That, coupled with the absence of 133-pounder Tony Ramos, gave the impression that both would wrestle.

The notion was logical — Clark had not been in the lineup since roughly one month before, in the same gymnasium, at the Midlands Championships. Gilman had been at 125 in every event since, Clark had trouble controlling his weight and feeling well enough to wrestle. Northwestern’s 125-pounder, Garrison White, carried an 11-11 mark into the dual, and Dominick Malone had lost five of his last six bouts. Why not give Ramos the night off and wrestle both redshirt freshmen?

But then Ramos emerged from the tunnel and began to warm up, and once the dual started, Clark was on the mat with White. The Southeast Polk product used a first-period takedown and a 3-point near-fall in the second to go into the third up 5-0.

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The third was where the conditioning and weight questions would be answered. Could Clark go the distance without running out of gas? Has the four-time Iowa state champion adjusted to the one-hour weigh-in?

Clark answered those questions with flying colors in the third. He used a reversal and takedown for a total of five points, showed no signs of excessive fatigue, and finished with a 10-1 major decision over White.

“You always want to be able to wrestle the whole seven minutes,” Clark said. “My weight was affecting me in the past, but I don’t think it’s an issue anymore.”

He said he had to start from scratch when learning how to control his weight. Because he sparingly cut weight in high school and wrestled unattached at 133 in some tournaments last season, this year has brought new challenges.

He said he has had to become much more disciplined and learn the correct things to eat and in what situation to eat them.

With Gilman’s loss and Clark’s major in the last two duals, Iowa fans may think the 125-pound spot is now Clark’s to lose. His head coach and captain had different opinions.

“Nothing’s changed … [Clark is] doing the right things, and both guys are coming along great and building and doing the things we like to see,” Brands said.

“I think with Gilman getting caught or whatever happened, yeah it’s going to open a door,” Ramos said, alluding to Gilman’s fall to Sam Brancale of Minnesota on Jan. 26. “… Now, Clark has a little bit of a shot, he has to take his opportunity and run with it.”

Obviously, Clark would love to take the opportunity Ramos said is there for the taking.

“I’m hoping for more than a one-time-thing,” Clark said. “I’m just kind of taking it one day at a time and doing what’s best for me.

“It feels good to go out and compete again, that’s something I look forward to doing again hopefully.”

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