Josh Dziewa grew up in eastern Pennsylvania wrestling before family and friends.
He gets to relive that today when the third-ranked Iowa wrestling team faces No. 21 Lehigh in Bethlehem, Pa.
“It’s exciting; I’m going to have a good fan base there, family and friends,” said Dziewa, who wrestles at 141 pounds and has a 21-5 record this season, including an 11-4 record in dual meets. “So it’ll be nice. It’s a good opportunity to put on a show. I’m fired up to get in front of my people that have been around me since I was yay big.”
Dziewa, a native of Yardley, Pa., is expected to face sophomore and fellow Pennsylvania native Laike Gardner today. Dziewa’s next victory will be his 50th career win as a Hawkeye against just 12 defeats.
A victory also would be another step toward peaking at the right time of the season, with a dual meet at Wisconsin on Feb. 23 all that remains on Iowa’s regular-season schedule.
“We’re priming and getting ready to go,” Dziewa said. “Our motivation is high and we’re definitely getting ready to go for the postseason. It’s that time of the year when you have to let the fur fly.”
Dziewa hopes that today’s match turns out better for him than his last trip home to Pennsylvania this season. He was pinned by Edinboro’s Mitchell Port in the second period on Dec. 5, but Iowa still escaped from Edinboro, Pa., with a 22-19 victory.
Dziewa didn’t have the support of his family and friends during the Edinboro match. Edinboro’s campus is ed about five hours from his home in Yardley, and his parents both had to work that night.
The Lehigh campus, on the other hand, is only about an hour away from Dziewa’s home in Yardley.
“There were Pennsylvania people there (at the Edinboro match), but not my immediate family,” Dziewa said. “I was still about five or six hours away. It was kind of hard for us.
“Lehigh is only about an hour, so I’ll have a good crowd there. I know they’re going down to specifically see me. So it’ll be exciting.”
Iowa senior Tony Ramos is coming off an emotional 6-1 victory over Michigan’s Rossi Bruno at 133 pounds Sunday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The victory made Ramos the first Iowa wrestler since Brent Metcalf in 2010 to finish undefeated at Carver-Hawkeye Arena with a 34-0 record.
Ramos will be in hostile territory when he faces Lehigh’s fifth-ranked Mason Beckman at Leeman-Turner Arena, which has a seating capacity of 2,200. Beckman will be the fifth top-10 opponent that Ramos will have faced this season.
“He’ll stay in matches if you let him, and he’ll sneak one in if you let him,” Ramos said of Beckman, who has an 18-2 record. “So you have to be prepared at all times.”
Ramos looks forward to competing on his opponent’s home mat.
“You get a lot of motivation from that because you want to quiet down the fans and shut down the arena,” he said.
Friday’s dual also will be a homecoming for Iowa junior Mike Evans, who is from Enola, Pa. Evans is ranked fifth at 174 pounds with a 21-3 record.
Iowa will look to improve its record to 25-0 against Lehigh. The Hawkeyes are 7-2 against ranked opponents this season.
Iowa coach Tom Brands said competing against Lehigh benefits both programs. He credits Lehigh coach Pat Santoro for doing his part to keep the long-standing rivalry alive.
“We used to wrestle them every year; I know when I was wrestling we did,” said Brands, a former three-time NCAA champion at Iowa in the early 1990s. “It fell off a little bit. But I think Pat Santoro has been trying to get out here. And I think it’s good to get out there. We’ve got three guys from out in east in our lineup and two of them are from Pennsylvania. So it makes sense, plus Lehigh is a good program.”
Reach Pat Harty at 339-7370 or email@example.com.