Almost time to say goodbye to memorable Hawkeye seniors
IOWA CITY, Ia. – Friday marks the end of an era for an Iowa wrestling recruiting class that ranked No. 1 nationally in 2010.
And for Hawkeye coach Tom Brands, getting that ballyhooed talent to reach a high level here wasn't a case of plug-and-play. He recalled having to "corral some of the extracurricular" in that group.
"There was a lot of damage control that we had to implement early on in their careers," Brands said. "It was kind of the Wild, Wild West."
Mike Evans, who compiled a 165-8 high school record in Enola, Pa., was the signature signing of a five-man group that comprises half of Iowa's 2015 lineup. Josh Dziewa (141 pounds), Michael Kelly (157), Nick Moore (165), Evans (174) and Bobby Telford (heavyweight) are fifth-year seniors who a month from now will play a huge role in determining if Iowa can win its first NCAA championship since … 2010.
Short-term, that quintet has arrived at the final Big Ten Conference dual of their careers, at 7 p.m. Friday against 16th-ranked Michigan. With a win, Iowa will secure an outright league title at 9-0.
"There was definitely some growing pains when we first came in there together," said Moore, an Iowa City West product who was one of four top-20 national recruits in the Class of 2010. "We kind of had a wild hair about us as a group when we got together, but we definitely have come a long way."
Evans and Telford have become the faces of this year's top-ranked Hawkeyes – Evans with his mountain-man appearance, Telford with his bold comments such as wanting to "trash the place" at Penn State. Evans (20-1) has been ranked as high as No. 2 nationally, Telford (21-1) as high as No. 1.
"Some of Bobby Telford's quotes this year are memorable," Brands said. "The mustache with Evans is memorable.
"But let's be remembered for our wrestling, that's what I would say. So let's put a stamp on these last five weeks or so."
Michigan (6-5, 4-4 Big Ten) will present some challenges against Iowa (13-0, 8-0) at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
At 133, Iowa's No. 7 Cory Clark gets yet another tough opponent in fifth-ranked Rossi Bruno. Brands said Clark has been wrestling well despite losses in four of seven matches since reigning at the Midlands Championships.
No. 2 Brandon Sorensen (149), No. 8 Kelly, No. 11 Moore, No. 5 Nathan Burak (197) and No. 4 Telford are also scheduled to face top-10 opponents.
"I think they're coming to do some damage," Brands said. "They have a heated rivalry with us in their mind."
"If you look at the lineups they put up last time out, they seem to be gearing for us. This isn't something I'm going to pretend is a secret. We've got to be ready."
Wrestling: No. 1 Iowa (13-0, 8-0) vs. No. 16 Michigan (6-5, 4-4)
• Specifics — 7 p.m. Friday, Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Iowa City.
• Following the dual — TV: BTN Plus (fee-based). Radio: KXIC (800 AM) in Iowa City. Live scoring: livestats.hawkeyesports.com.
• Preview — The Hawkeyes have wrapped up a share of their seventh regular season Big Ten crown in eight years. A win Friday would make it an outright title. ... Brody Grothus plans to be available at 141 pounds after cutting down from 149. ... No. 4 heavyweight Bobby Telford will have his hands full with sixth-ranked Adam Coon. The Michigan sophomore won two of three meetings vs. Telford last season.