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Coaches excited to invade Iowa City

BY CODY GOODWIN | FEBRUARY 18, 2015 5:00 AM

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Ohio State coach Tom Ryan knows how intimidating Carver-Hawkeye Arena can be. A letterwinner at Iowa from 1991-92, he knows how big of a difference there is between sitting on the bench close to the tunnel in the north-northwest corner of the floor and sitting on the opposing bench on the other side of the scorer’s table.

As such, Ryan has prepared his third-ranked Buckeye wrestling team for this coming weekend by booing every now and then during practices. He says this with a chuckle, knowing that, when it comes down to it, his wrestlers’ performances shouldn’t be affected by what the crowd does.

“Overall, the preparation is still for a wrestling match,” Ryan said. “You know, be prepared for screaming and yelling, but the bottom line is to be excited about it.”

Excitement is largely the feeling among the coaches whose teams are scheduled to invade Iowa City this weekend for the National Duals. Like Ryan, many pointed to the crowd and thrilling atmosphere as reasons they’re looking forward to the event.

“It’s good for the sport,” Illinois coach Jim Heffernan said. “The one thing you’re going to get there — the one thing you always get at Iowa — is the crowds and people excited about wrestling. Those are two very good things.”

The crowd — for all its knowledge of the sport and rowdiness that can, at times, influence matches — plays into the argument that Carver was the right place for an event that has struggled with attendance over the years.

“When it was in Iowa, it would get great fan support,” Missouri coach Brian Smith said about the National Duals, noting that when the event was in Cedar Falls for six-straight years, between the 2005-06 and 2010-11 seasons.

“It started there,” Smith added. “If you have great fan support there, why not?”

Smith also noted the 2012 Olympic Trials, held in Iowa City, as another strong showing of support for wrestling — more than 13,700 fans attended each session. He said that could have been a reason the National Wrestling Coaches Association wanted to bring the event back to Carver.

But Cornell coach Rob Koll is wary of the possible crowd turnout, saying that this weekend’s Iowa High School State Wrestling Tournament might draw fans more toward Des Moines and Wells Fargo Arena.

“I’m interested to see what kind of crowd they have,” Koll said. “It’s going to be interesting to see what kind of turnout you get, to be honest with you. Hopefully, you have a good crowd. It doesn’t matter if you’re wrestling in Carver. It’s just a gym without the people there.

“[But] I’m a big fan of the National Duals. I don’t care if they wrestle them in Fargo, North Dakota, or in Tallahassee. I’m going to be there supporting it. And I’m really excited to have Iowa back in it this year. Looks like we have the top-five ranked teams in the country [participating].

“You couldn’t ask for a better scenario, and obviously, you can’t ask for a better place to have it.”

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


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