The Iowa wrestling coach talks about what to expect from his lineup this weekend.
IOWA CITY, Ia. — Tom Brands didn’t like what he saw from his team last Friday night, so in response, the Iowa wrestling coach says he’s going to shake things up.
The 10th-ranked Hawkeyes will hit the road this weekend to wrestle both No. 9 Rutgers and Maryland, and some new faces may represent Iowa in both duals. There will be 15 total wrestlers making the trip out east, and Brands hopes the shuffled lineups will provide his team with a spark.
“We need to pick it up,” Brands said Wednesday. “These guys do a good job in this wrestling room, and that needs to carry over … they are not sucking their thumb. They understand that this is about performance to a certain degree, but it’s not about performance where you get uptight about it.
“Just go out there and let it fly. That’s what the fans want to see. It’s an entertainment business. When you’re entertaining people, have fun doing it. Then you’re more entertaining.”
The most obvious change will be Alex Marinelli making his long-awaited debut. The redshirt freshman will wrestle both Friday (against Rutgers) and Sunday (against Maryland) at 165 pounds. Kaleb Young had gone 3-2 in his absence.
“Rutgers says it’s sold out … I think wrestling in a hostile crowd will be awesome,” said Marinelli, a product of the nationally renowned St. Paris Graham (Ohio). “I’ve been excited like that before. You just have to stay in your stance and hit your moves that you know.
“If you get taken down, you get right back up and take them down and you’re up 3-2.”
But the other spots where new faces may emerge are at the lower weights. Specifically, Brands is bringing both Phillip Laux and Paul Glynn at 133 as well as Vince Turk and Carter Happel at 141. Both Laux and Turk lost last Friday against their Illinois counterparts.
Glynn wrestled at the Iowa City Duals last month, losing to Buffalo’s Bryan Lantry, 2-0. Laux has otherwise been the guy at 133, and is 6-1 overall. Happel, a four-time state champ from Lisbon, is 4-1 this season but has yet to appear in a dual. He said Wednesday he expects to get one match this weekend.
These lineup experiments come after Iowa’s less-than-ideal showing against the Illini last week. Illinois had twice as many takedowns as the Hawkeyes (18-9), including an 8-1 advantage in the first period alone.
The Illini dominated in the lower weights, outscoring their Iowa counterparts 20-10 with a 7-2 takedown advantage between 125 pounds and 141. Brands said afterward he wanted to see his wrestlers fight, and re-upped that stance on Wednesday.
“They have to keep getting better, because you never know. You’re a heartbeat away from the presidency,” Brands said. “When you get a chance to perform, you want to entertain, and in order to entertain, you have to score a lot of points, and to score a lot of points, you have to be ready.
“When you’re scoring points, things are going to go your way, and that’s what we want. It’s really about the opportunity you have and showing that it’s my weight class because I went out and performed at a high level, and I had a blast doing it and I was entertaining to watch.”
The other wrestlers making the trip will be Jeren Glosser at 149, Young for both 165 and 174 and Steven Holloway at 197. Brands did not explicitly say who will go and when, but he loves the way they’ve continued to compete in the room.
“These guys’ weights have been down. Their attitudes have been good. They haven’t lost any intensity in their training,” he said. “They’re still having fun every day when they come in here, and we love that.”
The Hawkeyes will be heavily favored against Maryland on Sunday, but they open the weekend against an up-and-coming Rutgers team on Friday. The Scarlet Knights have a host of ranked wrestlers, beginning with Nick Suriano, the second-ranked 125-pounder by Trackwrestling, and Richie Lewis, the Iowa Central Community College transfer who is fresh off a U23 Freestyle World Title, at 157.
It likely will be the Hawkeyes’ stiffest test of the schedule thus far, and they plan to take full advantage.
“The way I look at it is, when I’m on the mat, I’m focused on myself,” said Michael Kemerer, Iowa’s sophomore 157-pounder. “I’m focused on going out there and doing what I do. Just need to control what I can control, and that’s going out there and wrestling hard.”
Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.
Iowa wrestling takes on the East Coast
No. 10 Iowa (5-0, 1-0 Big Ten) vs. No. 9 Rutgers (3-1, 1-0)
WHERE: Rutgers Athletic Center, Piscataway, New Jersey
WHEN: 7 p.m.
WATCH/LISTEN: Flowrestling.com/AM 800 KXIC
No. 10 Iowa vs. Maryland (3-2, 0-2)
WHERE: Xfinity Center Pavilion, College Park Maryland
WATCH/LISTEN: Flowrestling.com/AM 800 KXIC