It was figurative Siberia this week for the Iowa wrestlers.
Tom Brands told his team early in the week the Hawkeyes were headed to Siberia. He didn’t mean literally, of course.
The Iowa coach meant a training phase with maximum output and minimal contact to the outside world. He meant a series of grueling workouts designed to push the Hawkeyes to their physical and mental boundaries.
“I think it was real clear – the message (Brands) was sending – that this was a training phase and we should treat it like so,” senior Luke Lofthouse said. “It was good for mental preparation. If you can envision being in a training camp in the middle of Siberia, you can envision a lot of things in your wrestling.”
The seventh-ranked Hawkeyes returned from figurative Siberia to whip Southern Illinois-Edwardsville 49-0 Friday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. A paid crowd of 6,486 watched Iowa register five falls on its way to its 69th consecutive victory and push its historic run to another stratum.
The Hawkeyes (8-0) moved into a tie for second place on the sport’s all-time consecutive win list, matching runs posted by Oklahoma State from 1921-32 and 1996-99.
“It’s an honor to be a part of, it’s exciting that we’ve been going that long,” sophomore 125-pounder Matt McDonough said. “Even though there’s been bumps all through the road, it’s still a constant grind and we’re going to keep working to improve on that.”
The only rung left for the Hawkeyes to climb is seven wins away. Oklahoma State won 76 consecutive duals from 1937-51, and the second-ranked Cowboys have the next shot at ending Iowa’s run. The Hawkeyes wrestle on Jan. 16 at Oklahoma State, and Brands said they trained this week with that dual in mind.
“We’re getting ready for it,” Brands said. “It’s not a secret that we have to gear up for it. From the outside looking in, it may be a mismatch by the rankings, by all the chatter out there and how we wrestled at Midlands. But we’ve got to go down there and be ready to put it to some guys because we didn’t do that (at the Midlands) and we need to step up to a bigger challenge and (Oklahoma State is) a bigger challenge.”
That’s why the Hawkeyes spent a week in figurative Siberia – a few days devoid of cell phones and with multiple practices.
“We had a pretty hard training phase coming off Midlands, kind of trained through this dual and didn’t really taper too much for this dual,” senior Matt Ballweg said. “It’s part of the season where you have an opportunity for the coaches to really push us. They took advantage of that and I think we made some good progress this past week.
“They were piling it on us and seeing how we responded. I felt I responded pretty well to the workouts and I thought the team responded pretty well. I guess we’ll see from here on out.”
The results were positive Friday. McDonough, Mark Ballweg, Aaron Janssen, Grant Gambrall and Lofthouse notched falls. Tony Ramos and Matt Ballweg won by technical fall. The Hawkeyes held a 32-1 advantage in takedowns and 98-30 edge in match points.
“We flexed our muscles where we needed to, but we’ve got to be able to do that against better teams as well,” Brands said. “Some of the things you saw out there were what wins tournaments, but some of the things you saw were an obvious and glaring blemish on this team at some individual weight classes.”
Iowa 49, Southern Illinois-Edwardsville 0
125 – Matt McDonough (I) pinned Paul Myeres 1:47.
133 – Tony Ramos (I) tech. fall John Petrov 20-5 in 5:55.
141 – Mark Ballweg (I) pinned Lawrence Blackful 2:03.
149 – Matt Ballweg (I) tech. fall Derrick Pousson 16-1 in 7:00.
157 – Derek St. John (I) dec. Kyle Lowman 9-2.
165 – Aaron Janssen (I) pinned Gabe Hocum 2:46.
174 – Ethen Lofthouse (I) dec. Michael Dace 14-7.
184 – Grant Gambrall (I) pinned Deshoun White 2:28.
197 – Luke Lofthouse (I) pinned Robert Cooney 3:36.
Hwt. – Blake Rasing (I) dec. David Devine 7-4.