IOWA CITY, Ia. — The opportunity of a wrestling lifetime finally arrived for Logan Ryan when he pulled up the straps on his black singlet Friday morning and stepped to the center of the mat inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena for the first time.
The Iowa freshman shook hands with his opponent, dropped into his stance and soon felt trouble.
“I was wobbly-legged,” he said. “My lungs were burning. A big part of it might have been nutrition and sleep throughout the whole week. My whole body was shutting down and that’s not something I’m used to. Instead of thinking about hitting my shots and moving my feet, I was thinking of, ‘(Bleep), my legs hurt.’ And that’s a problem. You can’t win matches when you’re thinking like that.”
The general public might view the Iowa City Duals as an opportunity for the Hawkeyes to kick the tail of a few overmatched opponents. Tom Brands sees it as a chance to kick the tires and take his wrestling team for a test drive under early-season competitive conditions.
“Very valuable from where I sit,” the Iowa coach said.
Both purposes were served Friday as second-ranked Iowa downed Maryland 36-9 before manhandling Grand Canyon University (44-0), Iowa Central (54-0) and Cornell College (58-0) in front of an announced crowd of 6,734.
“There’s two reasons why you do this,” Brands said. “For the guys who are veterans, they get their feet wet a little bit more. You get a bunch of matches in and that’s good. The other reason you do it is to see where your young guys are. You can learn a lot (about) your young guys.”
Brands learned Friday that his lineup remains a work in progress.
The Hawkeyes won 37 of their 40 bouts, collected bonus points in 35 matches and registered 18 pins. Their match defeats, however, came in a Big Ten dual at three weights under the most scrutiny.
“The No. 1 thing is we have to find out who our best guys are at ’41, ’57 and ’65,” Brands said. “It might be ironing itself out, but at ’65 it’s pretty even right now. Forty-one we’ll see what happens. The good thing is … Brody Grothus (is) getting stronger every day from that surgery. But we’ve got to get a lineup together.”
No clear front-runners emerged with knockout performances Friday.
Freshman Burke Paddock and senior Patrick Rhoads split Iowa’s 165-pound duties.
Paddock got ridden for more than three minutes in a 9-5 loss to Maryland’s Brendan Burnham before notching a technical fall against Iowa Central’s Grant Sherman.
Rhoads bounced back from last week’s major decision loss to two-time NCAA champion Alex Dieringer of Oklahoma State by pounding Grand Canyon’s Casey Larson 20-5 and pinning Cornell’s Michael Maksimovic.
“I think I kept a high pace,” Rhoads said. “That’s exactly what I wanted to do. That’s how I’ve got to wrestle everyone, even Dieringer.”
Edwin Cooper, Iowa’s leading contender at 157, went 2-1 on the day. He repeatedly put himself in scoring positions against returning NCAA qualifier Lou Mascola, but the Maryland senior continually gummed up Cooper in scrambles and won an 8-6 decision.
Ryan made his second audition at 141 on Friday. In his first match of the day, he looked heavy-footed and lethargic in an 8-5 loss against Maryland freshman Alfred Bannister.
“First match, obviously, I didn’t look very good,” he said. “Weight cut, warm-up, all that stuff, Tom stresses that and I’m still working on that. I think that’s a big reason why I wasn’t doing so well out there. I’ve got to work on that definitely.”
The farther Ryan got from the scale Friday, the better he wrestled. He racked up 15 takedowns while pinning Iowa Central’s Cole Wheeler and beating Cornell’s Josh Martin by a 20-7 major decision.
“Felt like a completely different guy,” he said. “I was moving my feet a lot more and getting to my offense. The first match I didn’t get to any of my offense. I took shots, but they were kind of half shots. I wasn’t committing fully. I was thinking more about what he was doing rather than what I was doing.”