Eight wrestlers will take the mat Thursday for Iowa at the NCAA Championships.
One will be unseeded.
Of course, Grant Gambrall placed third last spring and earned All-American honors, so he’s not a typical unseeded wrestler.
“Last year I was seeded 12th and I got third,” Gambrall said. “Seeds don’t mean a whole lot. It’s who shows up ready to wrestle, ready to scrap and fight.”
Grant Gambrall is 10-10 on the season including 3-3 at 184.
Gambrall, coming off an offseason injury that forced him to miss training time, started the season at 197. That wasn’t working for him, so he cut weight late in the season.
He placed fifth at the Big Ten Championships, losing a pair of tight decisions to fifth seed Kevin Steinhaus of Minnesota and unseeded Tony Dellago of Illinois.
“Big Tens didn’t go according to plan,” Gambrall said. “You want to win each match, each tournament. I lost two matches there. A lot to learn form. You’ve got to put any feeling bad for yourself behind you right away.”
Gambrall opens Thursday with eighth seed Ryan Loder of Northern Iowa, who is 32-4.
Gambrall wrestled Loder three times last season, going 2-1 against him. Loder pinned Gambrall with one second left at the 2010 Midlands.
“He’s a good wrestler,” Gambrall said. “He’s good in multiple positions, not just on his feet. He’s confident. Everything you want in a good match.”
Iowa coach Tom Brands knows Gambrall has it in him to score points this weekend.
“Just got to go out and wrestle,” Brands said. “We know what the challenge is. We have to do a good job. It doesn’t matter what matchups are.”
Gambrall won six matches at the NCAA Championships last season despite giving up some early takedowns.
“I need to go out and control what I can control,” Gambrall said. “I let up some points last year, and the only match I let it get to me was the semifinals.
“Things didn’t go according to plan even in the matches I won. But as long as you fight for seven minutes, the way we train, I think we’re in good shape there.”
Brands had simple advice for Gambrall. “Open things up.”
Gambrall is ready to get back on the stand after a somewhat disappointing season.
“This year has not gone according to plan in a lot of different facets,” Gambrall said. “Never lose sight of what’s important.”