His 18-2 record, his nine consecutive victories, and his No. 4 national ranking at 165 pounds all show that Iowa wrestler Nick Moore is competing at a high level.
Perhaps even more telling, though, is the way in which Iowa coach Tom Brands handles Moore on a daily basis.
“It’s not like every week we’re going, ‘Hey, Nick, rah, rah rah,’” Brands said. “He’s doing his job and he knows he’s doing his job. There is a lot of energy in him, that body language where he knows he’s wrestling well.
“He doesn’t need to be reminded. It’s not like he’s looking for a compliment. He doesn’t need a compliment. The best guys don’t need that because they know. And he knows right now he’s in a good place, a really good place.”
Moore will try to stay in a good place Sunday when third-ranked Iowa finishes the regular season dual-meet schedule at Wisconsin. The former West High standout hasn’t lost since being edged by North Dakota State’s Steven Monk 4-2 in the title match at the Midlands Championships in late December.
Moore’s other defeat was more lopsided and serves as a reminder of what lies ahead in his weight class. Penn State’s top-seeded David Taylor won by a 12-3 major decision against Moore on Dec. 21 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“Now it’s time to take the step against the best guys,” Brands said. “We’ve beaten the best guys, but now the, the best guy, and compete against him.”
Moore has earned Brands’ respect with his workmanlike approach in practice. Moore doesn’t stand out in practice, but for all the right reasons.
“I don’t even notice him, so that’s what is better,” Brands said. “It’s been all good and he’s doing it on his own. He is motivated, and what the word is, it’s output. There is output in his wrestling, and there is output in this wrestling room, and there is output in his matches.
“He catches my eye in a good way. You’re walking around and you see what’s going on in the room and you feel it and over here is Nick Moore and he can be behind you and it’s all good. I mean you feel it or you walk by and you just nod your head and keep walking. You’ll give him a little bit of a pat on the butt and say good job and keep doing what you’re doing.”
It’d be easy to say that Moore is peaking at the right time with the postseason looming, but Brands has his own theory on that.
“I think peaking is a frame of mind. I don’t think peaking is necessarily a time of year,” Brands said. “I think it’s a frame of mind, a thought process. And we get up for every match. I think all great wrestlers get up for every match, and especially the most important matches.”
Moore is pleased with his results, but hardly satisfied.
“I think I’m wrestling good, but I don’t know if it’s as good as I’ve ever wrestled or as good as I can wrestle,” Moore said. “I think there is more to be given.”
Moore’s motivation goes beyond the desire to dethrone Taylor. Moore lost two of his three matches at the NCAA Championships last year and now he seeks redemption.
“The expectations are definitely a little bit loftier this year,” Moore said.
A victory against Wisconsin on Sunday would give Iowa a share of the Big Ten regular-season title. Iowa has won five of the last six Big Ten dual championships.
“I guess since we’re in the position, we might as well go ahead and do it,” Moore said.
A victory for Derek St. John on Sunday also would have significance. Iowa’s defending national champion at 157 pounds and Moore’s former high school teammate at West enters the dual with 99 career victories.
St. John has declined to speak with the media for the past several weeks, which is hardly a surprise to Moore.
“It’s not like he’s shy to everybody,” Moore said. “When he has something to say, he says it. It usually has meaning. He’s not like some guys out that talk just to talk. And you kind of get sick of those people.”
Iowa vs. Wisconsin
When: 1 p.m. Sunday.
Where: Wisconsin Field House, Madison, Wis.
Series: Iowa leads 74-8-3, including 36-4-2 in Madison. Iowa has won 35 of the last 36 duals against Wisconsin dating back to 1975. Wisconsin’s only victory during that time was a 21-14 decision on Jan. 27, 2007 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Radio: KXIC 800-AM.