Moore training “angry and alone”


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There were times this past summer when Tom Brands saw Nick Moore doing something that made him smile, no matter how insane it might’ve sounded to any normal human being.

“There were days, during the dog days of summer, and you’d be driving up Hawkins there on that bumpy curved road, and here he is pulling that hill in full sweats and a stocking cap, and it’s 95 degrees,” Brands said. “That’s something you don’t coach into guys.

“When you’re training angry and you’re training alone, that means that you usually feel pretty good. When you see that, you don’t honk and wave and let him know that you saw him, but you nod quietly to yourself.”

Moore enters his senior season with still a lot to prove on the mat. He knows that. His coaches and teammates know that. His running in the brutal summer heat is something he’s always done, he said, but perhaps it’s amplified more after two-straight early exits at the NCAA championships.

The Iowa City native became a staple in Iowa’s lineup during the 2012-13 season. He went 18-10 that year at 165 pounds. Moore earned the 10-seed at the NCAA championships, held at the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines in 2013, a place in which he had previously never lost.

Moore went 2-2 at the national tournament, and his two losses were by a combined 6 points.

Last year, the West High product posted a 23-5 record, and was ranked as high as No. 4 in the country. At one point, he won 16-consecutive matches — eight of them in bonus-point fashion — in which he scored, on average, 10 points per bout.

But, again, Moore was disappointed at the NCAA Tournament, despite being seeded fifth. He went 2-2 again — including a 15-7 major-decision loss in the opening round to unseeded Josh Veltre of Bloomsburg.

Those performances have eaten at Moore, who’s ranked fifth at 165 pounds by Flowrestling. He knows his time is running out, and that has just one more shot to get his name on that golden wall in the Iowa practice room, the one that displays the names of every All-American in program history.

“You have to put a tournament together,” he said. “All the coaches say it best: You have to break it down. You have to put the first session together and then the second session. Then you have to come back for the morning session the next day, then the night session.

“I think that’s the main thing, is putting a whole tournament together like that. And if you slip and fall somewhere, you have to get back up.”

Brands said Moore’s poor showings in March could be attributed to his lack of confidence. Now in his ninth season as head coach, Brands said it’s on Moore to fix that aspect of his wrestling.

“Those are mental things that we’ve got to get over,” Brands said. “But when it’s 95 degrees and you’re out here in full sweats, I think he’s purging it in his own way.

“That’s what you’ve got to do, you’ve got to get it purged in your own way. Not my way. As much as it hurt me, it doesn’t matter to me what I say to him.”

Moore, along with the rest of this year’s senior class, is focused on helping Iowa make a push for its first national title since 2010.

If this year’s seniors fail to bring home the big trophy again this year, the drought without one will reach five years, the second-longest such span in program history since the team won its first title in 1975.

“We’re in our last year to do it,” said Mike Evans, a fellow senior and Iowa’s 174-pounder. “We need to wrestle every match like it’s the last match you’re going to wrestle.”

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