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Wrestlers not looking at rankings

BY JORDAN HANSEN | JANUARY 29, 2015 5:00 AM

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As No. 1 Iowa heads toward a matchup with No. 2 Minnesota, a large amount of interest has been put on individual rankings — by schools, fans, and the media.

With that said, many of the wrestlers don’t put much stock in the rankings, one of whom is Iowa 157-pounder Michael Kelly.

“To me, it doesn’t really matter. I think — it’s good to be aware of who’s at the weight and who’s doing well, but it really doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things,” Kelly said. “You see it at nationals all the time, a No. 1 ranked wrestler is going down, and he might not even get All-American.

“I don’t think it really means much; you have to still go out there and perform.”

Part of it is who wrestlers are; they’re focused on their own performance and improving themselves, not so much on who else is good this year.

However, one may think it’d make sense if they used the rankings as motivation, but Kelly said that isn’t exactly the case.

“I don’t put a whole lot of stock into all the fanfare. If I’m wrestling a higher ranked guy, it’s another opportunity — I can go out and put my name out there as one of those top-five guys,” Kelly said. “Every match is opportunity and a step toward the ultimate goal of nationals.”

While Kelly, ranked No. 12 by Flowrestling, may be the underdog in some of his matches, even higher ranked wrestlers such as fourth-ranked 133-pounder Cory Clark don’t see it as much more than what it is — simply a number.

“You hear them say what they’re ranked, but rankings are kind of just a number,” Clark said. “It’s good to have a high ranking, to be No. 1, but some people think that it’s good to not be No. 1. You have to do the same thing whether you’re No. 1 or No. 5, or No. 8.

“You got to beat the guys ranked above you or below you if you’re No. 1 to win the tournament.”

While Clark isn’t exactly worried about seeding, it’s still important to note that a good draw can help tremendously when it comes to the Big Ten and NCAA championships.

In fact, despite the casual indifference to rankings by many of the wrestlers, they still do play at least a small part in how their season ends up.

As Iowa heads toward its final stretch of the dual season, head coach Tom Brands believes his wrestlers are as close to the top of the wrestling world as it gets.

“We believe in our guys, even though you know maybe they have a No. 1 ranked guy here, and maybe we’re down the line a bit,” Brands said. “You know, I don’t believe that we’re that far apart at some of those 1 versus 6 rankings, as well.”

Follow @JordyHansen on Twitter for news, updates, and analysis about the Iowa wrestling team.


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