Hawks ready for National Duals


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A happy Tom Brands sat down before members of the media on Sunday afternoon, after Iowa took care of No. 15 Virginia, 30-6, before a crowd of 6,564. He smiled at the Hawkeyes’ accomplishment but added that they’d have to “do it right” this week in practice.

After all, there’s a proverbial target on the Hawks’ backs, being the No. 1 team in the country and all. And with some of the nation’s premier wrestling programs scheduled to come to Iowa City for the National Duals next weekend, Brands and Company know they’ll have to be at their best in order to claim the first of three possible postseason crowns.

“This is a big week,” Brands said. “We have to do it right this week, training-wise. We have a big event coming to Iowa City this coming Saturday and Sunday.

“One week from [Feb. 22], there’s going to a national dual championship crowned, and we’ve got work to do before we get to that match. But first things first, we have to do it right this week.”

The teams scheduled to invade Carver next weekend are No. 2 Minnesota, No. 3 Ohio State, No. 4 Missouri, No. 6 Cornell, No. 11 Illinois, No. 18 Lehigh, and Tennessee-Chattanooga after each won its respective regional round on Sunday afternoon.

Those rankings, of course, are by Flowrestling, which won’t have any bearing on how the National Duals are seeded. The eight teams that have advanced will be reseeded according to their ranking in the USA Today/NWCA Division I coaches’ poll.

By that rule, and barring some massive shakeup in the polls, Iowa, ranked No. 1 in the latest National Wrestling Coaches Association Poll, will likely wrestle Tennessee-Chattanooga — the only unranked team of the eight that made it to Iowa City — in the quarterfinals, set for Saturday.

“We’re excited to have it,” Brands said. “It’s good for our fans. We’re going to be ready to go and scrap just like seven other teams that are coming to Iowa City.”

Though Sunday’s win over the Cavaliers (10-6, 2-2 ACC) was the official start of Iowa’s postseason, the Hawkeyes said post-dual that they’re excited for next weekend and the challenges it will bring, adding that it’ll feel like the legit postseason when they set foot on the mat come Saturday.

“It’s the postseason now,” 141-pounder Josh Dziewa said. “The regular season’s over now. Today was the first day of the postseason. We got the National Duals, Big Tens, and nationals. I’m not sure who we’re going to line up against on Saturday, but we’re ready to go. Anybody.”

Dziewa’s mindset, similar to that of his teammates, centers on defending Carver, in which Iowa is 9-0 this season. Overall, the Hawkeyes are now 15-0, with some of their bigger wins coming on the road — against the likes of Minnesota (23-12) and Ohio State (18-14), among others.

Although the Black and Gold have bigger aspirations than the National Duals crown, many wrestlers have said they’re treating similarly to how they treated the Big Ten regular-season crown: it’s another feather in their hats.

“It’s always nice wrestling at Carver,” 133-pounder Cory Clark said. “We’ll be at home. Can’t let somebody beat us in our arena. There’s some pride there.”

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

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