Mike Kelly goes on the attack on the mat and off.
The redshirt freshman saw an opening in the lineup at 149 pounds at the start of the season and made the commitment to cut from 157.
“I suggested it to (coach Brands),” Kelly said. “He said that’s fine if you’re going to do it, but it’s something you have to be serious about.”
Kelly got there in the middle of December and made his debut for the Hawkeyes at the Midlands Tournament, going 6-2 and finishing fifth.
Kelly, who wrestled at 157 and 165 last season, said he felt good on the mat.
“I had doubts early on,” Kelly said of cutting to 149. “But I got on a game plan. It was tough in the beginning, but after that, it got better and better.
“At Midlands, I felt good. I felt strong. I felt good conditioning-wise.”
Kelly lost to No. 11 David Habat of Edinboro 13-1 in the consolations, but bounced back to top No. 14 Josh Wilson of Utah Valley 3-2 for fifth.
“I’d say it was alright for being the first time down a weight,” Kelly said. “It was not where I need to be. There’s work to be done.”
Iowa coach Tom Brands was pleased with how Kelly attacked his opponents at Midlands.
“Mike Kelly wrestles hard and you feel it when you’re watching him,” Brands said. “You feel how hard he wrestles. He just needs to give himself maybe more chances, maybe become a little more efficient with how hard he goes.”
Kelly, a two-time state champion from Cedar Falls, is starting to understand about picking his spots.
“I think the attacks have to be smarter attacks,” Kelly said. “You don’t want to shoot just to shoot. You want to shoot to score.
“Efficient, what he was meaning by that, you shoot to score.”
Kelly hasn’t nailed down the 149-pound spot in the lineup just yet. So far in six dual meets this season, three different wrestlers have taken a turn at 149.
Kelly is hoping for his first shot Friday at Indiana. It also will be a key match on Saturday when No. 2 Oklahoma State comes to Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The Cowboys have No. 2 Jamal Parks, a senior, at 149.
“I’ve got a big opportunity in front of myself,” Kelly said. “I need to go out there, wrestle, and take care of my match.”