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Hawkeye wrestlers prepare for conference championship

BY CODY GOODWIN | MARCH 06, 2014 5:00 AM

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Tom Brands spent his Wednesday afternoon chat with the media by saying much of the same thing he’s been preaching all season.

In order for Iowa to win the toughest conference wrestling tournament in the country — the 2014 Big Ten Championships, set for this coming weekend in Madison, Wis. — his wrestlers must score more points.

“You emphasize that on a daily basis,” Brands said. “It’s part of the philosophy of this program. And we need to keep emphasizing it.”

The message was seemingly well-received last year, at least early on. Recall that Iowa managed to claim first place at the 2013 Big Ten championships after the tournament’s opening session. That lead came because of the number of bonus points the Hawkeyes scored in the first few rounds.

The decline — Iowa dropped to third before the end of the second session; the team finished third behind Penn State and Minnesota — came because of the dearth of bonus points scored in the next few rounds. It’s no surprise, then, that Brands continues to harp on his wrestlers about scoring more points.

Scoring a lot of points is one thing, of course. Scoring more than the rest of the field is another challenge altogether. The Big Ten is, without a doubt, the toughest conference in the sport — eight of InterMat’s top 14 teams hail from the conference. And the last seven NCAA team championships have come from the Big Ten.

“You’re wrestling a lot of the top-ranked guys that are going to be at the national tournament,” 184-pounder Ethen Lofthouse said. “You’re peaking for it, but it’s just another step that’ll get you to the ultimate goal.”

Ramos seeking first conference title

Tony Ramos has goals, as most wrestlers do. After a lengthy Hawkeye career, there are two things he’s yet to do — win both the Big Ten and NCAA Tournaments.

He’ll get his chance to cross one of those off his to-do list this weekend. Ramos is listed as the top pre-seed at 133 pounds. On Wednesday, he spoke of how not winning either of those has driven him and how his chances to put a stamp on his career have dwindled to two weekends.

“I don’t want to go out not having a national title or not having a Big Ten championship,” Ramos said. “I want both of them. That’s something I want people to say, that he did win a Big Ten title, that he did win a national championship.”

Iowa leads in attendance numbers

The Iowa wrestling program led the nation in attendance for the eighth-consecutive season, according to an annual Division I report released by Roby Publishing on Tuesday.

The Hawkeyes averaged 8,835 fans in seven home duals. Iowa’s total attendance — 61,843 — is a NCAA single-season record. The program has averaged at least 8,000 fans for the sixth-consecutive season.

Penn State finished in second place, totaling 61,170 fans over eight duals, averaging 7,646 fans per home dual. Minnesota rounded out the top three, averaging 3,462 fans per dual.


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