Senior wrestlers prep for final dual at Carver


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When Tom Brands is reminded of the seniors in his lineup, he turns and points to a massive gold board in the Iowa wrestling practice room. The board is filled with names from the past and present, honoring each Hawkeye wrestler who has earned the right to be called an All-American.

His three seniors this year — Tony Ramos, Derek St. John, and Ethen Lofthouse — all have a place on the board. The trio has combined to total seven All-American honors, including an individual national championship (St. John in ’13).

“There are a lot of accolades there,” Brands said. “Let their best wrestling go forward, but this is a big event for them.”

The event, scheduled for Feb. 9, when the second-ranked Iowa wrestling team hosts No. 12 Michigan for the final home dual of the regular season, will serve as Senior Day for the three Hawkeyes.

All three have served as leaders this year, though Brands would argue that they’ve all led by example during each year they’ve been in the lineup.

“It shows their diligence in not just being in the lineup for one year or for one event,” Brands said. “They’ve been household names for the last three-and-a-half years.”

The name that likely jumps further off the page than the other two is Ramos, who has built himself into a crowd favorite during his Black and Gold tenure. The Glenbard North product has an opportunity to finish his career with a spotless record in Carver-Hawkeye, joining just a handful of other Iowa wrestlers to achieve the feat.

This adds a sort of pressure, of course, but Ramos isn’t getting caught up in what could happen. He said he’s treating the dual like any other — a testament to the program’s mindset that emphasizes focusing on the next task at hand and nothing more.

“Some people say you should just walk off the mat with your hand raised and get out of there,” Ramos said. “But the fans like interacting. They like to have a good time, too.

“They’re there to see wrestling, but they’re also there for a show. That’s what they’re coming for.”

Ramos has given Hawkeye fans plenty of memories in Carver over the years. He said he doesn’t have a personal favorite — at least not right now.

One of Lofthouse’s favorites was in January 2011, when he muscled out a 3-1 victory over future All-American Nick Heflin of Ohio State. With the match tied at 1, Lofthouse managed a takedown with 17 seconds left to seal the victory.

“It’s pretty crazy to think about,” Lofthouse said about the upcoming dual. “Me and Ramos and St. John — coming in here like true freshman seems like yesterday.”

The impact of Lofthouse, St. John and Ramos has been immense — not just in the wins, Brands said, but in the preparation as well. And while the Feb. 9 dual is a big moment for them, all three are focused on bigger goals.

Still, after all the hours of practice, the wins, and memories, Brands couldn’t help himself.

“I’m kind of smiling right now,” Brands said. “At all of them.”

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