IOWA CITY, Ia. — Tom Brands stopped for a moment this summer to reflect on Iowa’s unbeaten run and used the pursuit of college wrestling history as a bullet point during a speech to his team.
History lessons, though, typically aren’t part of the curriculum for the Hawkeyes — and the subject has rarely been mentioned inside the Iowa camp since.
“It’s not important to me,” Brands said this week as the top-ranked Hawkeyes stood one victory away from breaking Oklahoma State’s 46-year-old record of 84 duals without a defeat after a win Friday against Indiana.
For Brands, other matters pertaining to the Cowboys sit front and center. Second-ranked Oklahoma State (4-0) arrives for a 7 p.m. showdown Saturday against No. 1 Iowa (7-0) at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Nearly 12,000 tickets had been sold as of midafternoon Friday for the first No. 1 vs. 2 meeting between college wrestling’s most-storied programs since 2003.
“What’s important to me is we have 12,000 to 15,000 fans who are paying customers and we have to do a good job to put on a show and we have to get our guys to realize our job is to wrestle in an entertaining, domination way,” Brands said.
“Then, good things are happening.”
The Hawkeyes pulled even with the Cowboys Friday night, beating Indiana 26-12 to run their unbeaten streak to 84.
To add another twist to tonight’s dual, Iowa can break one of Oklahoma State’s records — against Oklahoma State.
College wrestling’s two superpowers (the Cowboys own 34 NCAA titles, while the Hawkeyes have won 23 since 1975) are connected on both ends of the unbeaten streak record.
Oklahoma State went nearly seven full seasons without a dual defeat before Oklahoma snapped the streak at 84 in 1966. The run started in 1959 when the Cowboys defeated Iowa.
“There’s plenty to wrestle for,” Oklahoma State coach John Smith said. “Those records mean something, and Oklahoma State takes pride in owning some of those records.”
The Hawkeyes haven’t lost in 1,464 days. Their last defeat occurred on Jan. 5, 2008, when Oklahoma State claimed a 19-14 victory in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Iowa reeled off 69 consecutive victories — the fourth-longest winning streak in college wrestling history — before the Cowboys turned the winning streak into an unbeaten streak with a 15-15 tie last January in Stillwater.
“It’s big for wrestling,” Iowa sophomore 133-pounder Tony Ramos said. “Two big programs with a lot of national championships going at it again, just like the old days.”
In the four years since Iowa’s last defeat, the Hawkeyes scored 2,734 points in dual meets. Their opponents scored 574.
Iowa has used 43 wrestlers during the streak and the Hawkeyes have won 62 duals with at least one starter sitting out. It finished 23-0 in 2010, despite never assembling their best lineup and won the National Duals without three starters.
“That shows that it’s not just 10 guys who are important, the whole room is,” Iowa junior 125-pounder Matt McDonough said. “That’s what we try to (stress) every day. (Brands) makes everyone believe they are the best in the country.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re the second-string guy in the room, you’re still a national title contender. You have to train like you are the No. 1 guy and not make any assumptions that you’re never going to see the lineup.”
Iowa’second-ranked 157-pounder Derek St. John sustained a knee injury against Northern Iowa and Brands said the sophomore is doubtful.
Without St. John, Iowa is favored at only three weights in the rankings — 125, 141 and 165.
“They’re coming in to knock our blocks off,” McDonough said. “If we want to keep that unbeaten streak alive, they’re the next ones (we have to beat).”
Mocco bout: U.S. Olympian Steve Mocco will compete against Nick Matuhin of Germany at 264.5 pounds in a second exhibition during intermission, the Hawkeyes announced Friday. It was previously announced that Brent Metcalf, a 2010 U.S. World Team member, will wrestle Canadian star Haislan Garcia at 145.
CHASING NCAA RECORD: IOWA’S UNBEATEN STREAK
Iowa matched Oklahoma State’s historic record of 84 consecutive duals without a loss on Friday with a win at Indiana.
Back in 1959, the Cowboys defeated Iowa to start a run of nearly seven seasons without a loss that lasted for 84 duals.
Iowa’s last loss: Oklahoma State defeated the Hawkeyes 19-14 on Jan. 5, 2008.
Iowa’s last tie: Oklahoma State tied the Hawkeyes 15-15 on Jan. 16, 2011.
The reformatted National Duals begin Saturday in Springfield, Ill., for Division II, Division III, NAIA and junior college teams.
Four Iowa programs have their sights set on capturing championships.
Wartburg, the top seed and defending champion in Division III, is in pursuit of its sixth title at the event. Iowa Central earned the No. 1 seed in the NJCAA division, while Upper Iowa (Division II) and Grand View (NAIA) are seeded second.