The Hawkeyes plan to have a West High graduate wrestling at 157 pounds this week at the Midlands Tournament in Evanston, Ill.
It won’t be second-ranked Derek St. John, who will rest an injury, but former Trojan Nick Moore.
“It’s an opportunity for Moore to compete,” Iowa coach Tom Brands said. “We have to go forward with him.
“He’s one of our guys not able to show his stuff because he’s behind a guy at 165. Now he has an opportunity with St. John being out of the lineup to prove how tough he is.”
St. John suffered an undisclosed leg injury in his final match before the holiday break against Northern Iowa, scoring a major decision in the process.
“He won that match on one leg,” Brands said. “You weren’t going to tell him to come off the mat there. … That’s what we like.”
Brands said St. John will make the trip to Evanston, Ill., with the team but won’t wrestle. St. John could take the mat, Brands said, but the coaches and trainers want him to “continue to get stronger and not rush it.”
“He’s a pretty tough nut, I’ll tell you that right now,” Brands said of St. John. “I’m pretty impressed with what he’d done not only handling the injury, but what he’s done as far as rehabbing. He’s made it a mission, more or less.”
And while there is never a good time for an injury, St. John got his on Dec. 8. If he returns for the dual at Indiana on Jan. 6, that’s almost a full month to recover.
In the meantime, Moore will try to improve his 3-1 record during his first appearance at Midlands. St. John was 11-0 this year, and 35-6 over his first two seasons.
“He’s got a chance to seize the moment,” Brands said. “It’s a way for him to prove himself.”
149 COMING INTO FOCUS? Brands said the Hawkeyes would take redshirt freshman Mike Kelly and freshman Brody Grothus to Midlands to compete at 149. Grothus, who is 9-1, will wrestle unattached.
“I don’t know how consistent we’ve been (at 149),” Brands said. “Mike Kelly gets to be down there for the first time, we’ll give him a chance.”
Kelly, who is 2-1, started the season at 157 but has been able to shed the weight to certify one class lower.
“We might have found out something about Mike Kelly at 149,” Brands said. “The good thing about this for him is, he’s worked at being down a weight longer. He’s done a really good job of shrinking his body down the right way.”
Iowa has had three different wrestlers compete at 149 in six dual meets and several others compete at tournaments.
Brands did note that Mark Ballweg has made the move from 149 down to 141.
MARION WILL WRESTLE: Brands said Tuesday that Montell Marion will wrestle Thursday and Friday at the Midlands Tournament.
Marion was arrested Dec. 16 for driving while barred. Afterward, Iowa athletics director Gary Barta and associate athletics director for student services and compliance, Fred Mims, both indicated the situation was going to be handled according to the student-athlete code of conduct.
“The comment has been made and said by my bosses, both of them, that there will be no further comment,” Brands said. “I’m a loyal guy. If the athletic department stance is no further comment … I’m part of the athletic department.”
Marion was reinstated to the Hawkeyes in January after a May 2010 drunken driving arrest led to his dismissal. Marion is ranked No. 1 at 141 and is 10-0 this season.