The Iowa 141-pounder is ready to make a statement in duals at Maryland and Penn State. Dziewa is from Yardley, Pa. Chad Leistikow/The Register
IOWA CITY, Ia. – Put up or shut up.
That's the message coming through loud and clear to Iowa wrestler Josh Dziewa — not only from his head coach, but from himself.
The senior 141-pounder has found himself 4½ years into a college career that hasn't yet met the expectations that naturally come with being one of the nation's top high school recruits in Iowa's ballyhooed Class of 2010.
"If not now, when? Because it's over. I'm down to 40 days," Dziewa said Tuesday. "Forty days to go strong and put the work in."
Dziewa said he's laid on his bed, eyes closed, TV off, trying to picture himself doing everything he knows he's capable of on the wrestling mat.
"Picturing my shots, picturing matches seven minutes long," Dziewa said. "Talking to myself. Positive self-talk."
Now is the time for more action as the Yardley, Pa., native prepares to return to his home region for the last time as a collegian. He'll have family at both Big Ten Conference weekend duals — Friday at Maryland and Sunday at No. 5 Penn State.
Dziewa (18-5) is looking to rebound from a 7-3 loss to fourth-ranked Nick Dardanes of Minnesota.
The topics broached Tuesday were Cael Sanderson, Michael Kelly and Josh Dziewa.
"I can say this in front of you, because we talk about it. He knows that wasn't his best performance," coach Tom Brands said. "Sometimes he tries to rationalize a little bit. But … don't blow smoke up my tailpipe. Let's get things ironed out. Because he's got a lot of ability to do things we haven't really seen yet.
"He's got offense. It's just a matter of believing in it."
Dziewa has a 73-22 career record. He started the season ranked fourth at 141, but fell to 10th after the Dardanes loss.
And here's why Hawkeye fans care whether Dziewa becomes an NCAA all-American (top eight) for the first time: For top-ranked Iowa to win its first national championship since 2010, it might very well require all-American performances from the five starters ranked between seventh and 10th.
"What's funny is I feel like I've been putting the work in the whole time, but it's not translating," Dziewa said. "Why isn't it translating? Because you actually have to do it. Just because you work hard in the room doesn't mean it's going to happen."
Bingo. That's exactly what Brands is preaching. It's time to bring it.
Because time's running out.
"I tell you what, if we wait too much time, your five-year career is over," Brands said. "Let's do it now.
"We see it up here. … It's not just about up here. That's not how you're defined. It's a cruel world. My dad taught me that. You are defined by your success on the mat, by your success at your business. You're not defined by your planning, or how organized you are, or how many people like you.
"You're defined by, did you get the job done or not?"
Iowa (11-0, 6-0 Big Ten) at Maryland (5-12, 0-6)
Specifics — 6 p.m. Friday, Comcast Pavilion, College Park, Md.
Following the game — TV: None. Radio: KXIC (800 AM), Iowa City. Live scoring: hawkeyesports.com.
Preview — The Hawkeyes are two wins away from securing their seventh Big Ten regular season title in eight years. ... Iowa is 2-0 all-time against Maryland. This is the teams' first meeting as Big Ten members. ... Maryland's highest-ranked wrestler is No. 13 Geoffrey Alexander at 133 pounds. He'll take on No. 7 Cory Clark, who has lost three of his last five bouts.