Sports writers Chad Leistikow and Chris Cuellar break down the Hawkeye match ups in basketball and wrestling. They also take a look at possible recruiting prospects in football.
IOWA CITY, Ia. — The only way fourth-ranked Iowa’s last two weeks could be tougher is if Kyle Snyder flew to Carver-Hawkeye Arena from Krasnoyarsk, Russia on Friday.
Ohio State is missing its Olympic gold medal-winning heavyweight due to international competition, but it’s hardly a break for the Hawkeyes (7-2, 3-1), who are concluding a stretch against the nation’s No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 teams in consecutive duals.
The chance to get back on track in front of a hungry home crowd begins at 7 p.m.
“One of the (Dan) Gable philosophies that I grew up with was that it’s easier to move forward with success,” Iowa head coach Tom Brands said Tuesday.
“There are some degrees of success, even though we’ve lost two dual meets in the last two weekends. You can still move forward."
Snyder became a Big Ten, NCAA, World and Olympic champion before starting his junior season and his entry into the prestigious Ivan Yarygin Grand Prix means an absence in Iowa City. It also means Iowa’s recent struggles at 285 pounds are less of a liability in a difficult dual. The Buckeyes (8-0, 4-0) are bringing a handful of talented wrestlers, including unbeaten and top-ranked Nathan Tomasello (133) and Bo Jordan (174).
“(Jordan) wrestles hard,” said Iowa’s 174-pound senior Alex Meyer. “That’s why he’s had the accomplishments he has. But I think that’s what I do, too, and when I wrestle hard I’m really hard to beat.”
The Hawkeye heavyweight getting to dodge Snyder is projected to be redshirt freshman Steven Holloway, who Brands said will remain the starter since NCAA qualifier Sam Stoll went down with a season-ending knee injury. Holloway owns a 5-6 record and was on the wrong side of a technical fall in last week’s 26-11 loss to No. 2 Penn State. Ohio State has used senior Josh Fox (8-10) in place of Snyder.
“Holloway is going to be our heavyweight going forward,” Brands said. “He’s got a tough task, but he needs to embrace it because it’s an opportunity he might not have had otherwise.”
Once Iowa lost Stoll after losing at No. 1 Oklahoma State, Brands put Mitch Bowman down as a potential starter alongside Holloway. On Tuesday, the 11th-year head coach indicated he had a former 184-pound grappler who may be used in “relief” of Holloway, which is the weight the North Scott alum was projected at preseason.
Other highly anticipated bouts are set up at 133 (Tomasello vs. No. 4 Cory Clark), 149 (Iowa’s No. 3 Brandon Sorensen vs. No. 5 Micah Jordan), the aforementioned 174, and 184, where Hawkeye senior Sammy Brooks will tangle with defending national champion Myles Martin.
“I’ve got to do my job and everyone else has to do their job,” Clark said. “There is a peak to a season and I think we do a good job of peaking at the right time, even though it hasn’t shown for everybody in the past. We’re building and doing the best we can do.”
The dual holds historical significance for the Hawkeyes, even though a reigning gold medalist will miss out on a massive crowd and “Camo Night” festivities.
A loss would be Iowa’s third straight, something the program has only done in two — 1966-67 and 2005-06 — of its last 50 seasons.
“We’ve looked at these three weekends for a long time now,” Brands said. “They’re important.
“But the two that just happened are over. We learn from it, we keep moving. We don’t learn from it and forget about it, but we move forward. Our mindset will be the same, regardless.”
No. 3 OHIO STATE (8-0, 4-0) at No. 4 IOWA (7-2, 3-1)
Where: Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Iowa City
When: 7 p.m., Friday
TV/Radio: Big Ten Network; KXIC 800 AM