Brands: Cory Clark needs urgency against top-ranked foes

Chad Leistikow

Iowa’s Cory Clark gets ready to turn Northwestern’s Dominic Malone last Friday. Clark pinned Malone in 2:56. He’ll meet Minnesota’s top-ranked Chris Dardanes during a 6 p.m. Friday dual pitting No. 1 Iowa at No. 2 Minnesota in Williams Arena.

IOWA CITY, Ia. – Friday night could be a defining moment in the wrestling season — and maybe career — for Iowa 133-pounder Cory Clark.

The sophomore has been dinged twice to highly ranked foes this season. Both involved him giving up first-period takedowns in losses to Ohio State's Johnni DiJulius (7-5) and Illinois' Zane Richards (4-2).

Next up, eighth-ranked Clark gets a significant shot at a breakthrough moment: meeting Minnesota's top-ranked Chris Dardanes during a 6 p.m. Friday dual pitting No. 1 Iowa at No. 2 Minnesota in Williams Arena.

"Pretty big. I mean, No. 1 guy," Clark said. "I can really make a statement there by getting a win. Going out not only to win by one, but going out to open it up and wrestle my match and control the match."

Going a strong seven minutes is a lesson Clark has learned the hard way. The former Southeast Polk star, who has moved up a weight class after finishing fifth nationally at 125 as a freshman, said he's taken the losses hard.

His coach, Tom Brands, provided his analysis on Clark, who has shown in spurts that he is one of Iowa's most dominating wrestlers. In his first match after losing to Richards, Clark delivered a first-period pin against Northwestern's Dominic Malone.

"With him, it's not really a different mindset to the point where he's missing something," Brands said Tuesday. "It's more about having an urgency that you don't have all day. It's not something where it's two guys that are getting to know each other in beach volleyball.

"You have to use every tick on the clock in order for it to feel like a long match in your opponent. And I'm not sure Cory Clark's opponents have felt the seven minutes being as long as maybe they should feel it."

Sorensen honored: Iowa 149-pounder Brandon Sorensen earned his second Big Ten wrestler of the week honor this month after he upended top-ranked Jason Tsirtsis of Northwestern in a 3-2 match Saturday that went to double overtime.

Sorensen also moved up to No. 2 in the national rankings.

"It was good that I won, but it's not how I wanted it to go. I didn't want it to go into overtime," Sorensen said. "You really just can't let that happen. … I've got to keep getting to him. Watching the match again, I feel as though I can get to him."

Speaking of 149...: Brody Grothus, a top-10 nationally ranked wrestler who Sorensen has beaten out at 149, recently said he would be open to moving up or down a weight class. Brands did not dismiss that notion Tuesday.

Iowa has No. 8 Josh Dziewa at 141 pounds and No. 10 Michael Kelly at 157.

But first, Grothus — a junior from Davenport Assumption — needs to be 100 percent healthy. He was sidelined with an ankle injury for about two weeks earlier this month.

"He can go down, he can go 49, he can go 57. Actually, he could go 65 if he had to, if we actually needed him to," Brands said. "We could talk a lot about different math and scenarios, but No. 1 is he gets healthy. No. 2 is for me, he's valuable to this program … even in a role he's not probably happy where he's at. But he's still doing everything he can to be the best that he can be."