Evans-Storley highlights Iowa-Minnesota dual


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In a recent Minneapolis Star Tribune column, Minnesota’s Logan Storley talked about the other 174-pounders in the Big Ten Conference. He called Nebraska’s Robert Kokesh “one of my good friends,” and said Penn State’s Matt Brown “seems like a good guy, too.”

Then he was asked about Iowa’s Mike Evans. The author said Storley smiled slightly, and said, “That’s a different story.”

In tonight’s dual between Iowa and Minnesota, the 100th in their storied history, no other individual match has garnered as much hype as the one at 174 pounds between Evans and Storley. In a rivalry that already produces a potent hatred, the Evans-Storley matchup might best personify everything great about this battle of collegiate-wrestling titans.

Storley, ranked fourth at 174 by Flowrestling, owns a 3-1 all-time series advantage over Evans, who’s currently ranked second. All three wins came during the 2012-13 season, by margins of 1, 2, and 1 point. Evans won the lone matchup last season, a 2-1 overtime win with the help of a rideout.

“All of them have been close,” Evans said. “All of them have been a fight. I don’t know. That’s about all I can say about it. He’s come out three times, by the skin of his teeth. I came out once by the skin of my teeth. It’s going to be a dogfight again.

“Either way, I’ve got to put him down.”

Each match has been different, of course, but the fifth edition of Evans-Storley will likely carry more weight than usual.

Tonight’s dual, billed as a legitimate fight — Iowa coach Tom Brands said Minnesota submitted, not probables but a “match card” — is arguably the most-anticipated dual of the college-wrestling season so far, if only because it’s a battle of the top two teams in the land (Iowa’s No. 1 by Flowrestling, and Minnesota is No. 2).

As such, every match is that much more crucial for both sides, and 174, labeled a swing match by many, could play a huge role in how the dual is decided.

“I like a little extra pressure, a little extra incentive to get up,” Evans said. “But it’s Minnesota. How much incentive do you need?”

For Evans, who’s 18-0 this season, his approach never changes from match to match. The senior said he always walks onto the mat with confidence, but he knows it will take next-to-no mistakes if he’s to beat Storley for a second-straight time.

“He’s mat savvy. He’s slick. He’s an opportunist, and that makes those kinds of guys hard to wrestle,” Evans said. “Those kinds of guys, you really have to pick up your pace and put them down, and put them down every chance you get. Otherwise, he’ll bounce back.”

Brands knows this matchup is important to Evans from a personal standpoint, but it also has implications that are bigger than just whether or not the winner continues on the path toward an undefeated season in duals. This match could help with seeding when the Big Ten and NCAA Championships roll around come March.

“A lot of good matchups, but we believe in our guys,” Brands said. “It’s a big match, 174. For them, too. We’ve got a guy there that likes to back up the hype.”

And what exactly does it mean to back up the hype?

“Look at it this way,” Evans said. “We’re going to go into their arena, and we’re going to hear a bunch of boos, we’re going to hear a huge crowd, and then we’re going to shut them up.

“Ain’t nothing better than that.”

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

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