It’s a new year, and new challenges await the fifth-ranked Hawkeye wrestling team.
“We haven’t been tested, when you look at the scores,” Iowa coach Tom Brands said Wednesday. “It’s been some good wrestling to make it lop-sided.”
Iowa (10-0) went 5-0 in December winning the month by a total score of 173-24. The closest dual was a 26-9 takedown of then-No. 23 Lehigh back on Dec. 6.
“We made a big statement win with a couple of weights there,” Brands said. “And you get ready for Iowa State, that’s a big rivalry, but how good are they?”
Iowa beat Iowa State 32-3 on Dec. 1.
January will be a bit tougher for the Hawkeyes. It starts Friday at home against No. 4 Ohio State, and continues Sunday versus No. 21 Purdue.
Then a trip to No. 2 Oklahoma State and Big Ten road trips to No. 12 Michigan, Michigan State and No. 3 Minnesota.
“You get ready for the dual meet that’s in front of you,” Brands said. “Ohio State is important. We’re getting ready for that.”
Ohio State (6-0) is among six Division I wrestling programs still undefeated. The Buckeyes also beat Iowa 21-9 last season in Columbus.
Tom Brands is 43-5 in the Big Ten over six seasons.
“The intensity is up,” senior Tony Ramos said. “It on TV. They beat us last year. Time to go out and right the wrongs. Go out and wrestle hard every match.”
Each team has nine ranked wrestlers. Brands can’t see Iowa as an underdog, despite the national rankings.
“We don’t play the underdog role,” Brands said. “You still have 10 weight classes against a team that has some high-ranked gusy coming in for a little piece of what we have here.”
Iowa is 14-1 all-time against Ohio State in Iowa City. The lone Buckeye win came in 1929.
Brands compared the approach to the one Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz preaches.
“Get better every day, that’s what we do,” Brands said. “Now we have a midterm, or final, or whatever. It is certainly not the end-all, but this is the biggest thing to this point.
“This is our test, so here we go.”