The Iowa wrestling team hosts UT-Chattanooga on Sunday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Cody Goodwin, firstname.lastname@example.org
IOWA CITY, Ia. — The Iowa wrestling team opens its season this Sunday against UT-Chattanooga, and while the Hawkeyes return eight of last year’s starters and will field a lineup with seven past All-Americans, there’s still one question regarding the lineup.
Who’s starting at 133 and 141?
The answer, Iowa coach Tom Brands said, will be revealed Sunday.
“We have options,” Brands said Thursday, “and we don’t even know really where we’re plugging those options in yet. It’s Thursday. Tomorrow’s Friday. We’ll know a lot more tomorrow, but we may not know until Saturday.
“We’re not in a hurry to figure it out. We know that we have a lot of firepower. We have to make sure we’re putting the right guys in the right places to get them ready for what’s down the road.”
Let’s walk through this.
Iowa released its probable lineups early Thursday. Austin DeSanto, a returning All-American, along with senior Paul Glynn and transfer Gavin Teasdale are all listed at 133.
At 141, there's DeSanto, again, as well as junior Carter Happel.
There are plenty of options here, is the thing. Brands could throw out a number of combinations, assuming they all weigh in at their lowest possible weights Sunday. It’s also important to remember these are just the “probables,” so things could still change.
DeSanto spoke with the media after Brands on Thursday. He didn’t reveal much, either.
“Wherever they need me, I’ll go,” said DeSanto, who went 23-6 and placed fifth at the NCAA Championships last season. “I’m just worried about my wrestling right now, and getting better.”
When the Hawkeyes hosted their media day in snowy Mount Vernon two weeks ago, Brands made the comment that Teasdale would be on the mat for Iowa’s opener.
“I mean, why not?” he said then. “Let’s just put it out there.
“Here’s the thing: The guy can wrestle.”
When asked what him wrestling might mean for DeSanto, Brands said then, “We’re going to put our best team on the mat.”
It would be reasonable to assume that means Teasdale will go 133 and DeSanto will go 141. But the probables revealed many other possibilities.
Brands continued Thursday with this:
“Paul Glynn will factor into this year’s lineup at 133. We have several options there, with Teasdale and DeSanto … (but) we don’t know what we’re doing yet. We have to talk to Teasdale and Paul Glynn and Austin. Those are ongoing conversations.”
DeSanto is the proven commodity — a two-time NCAA qualifier with a podium finish who could still take a redshirt … but if he wrestles Sunday, that possibility is gone, at least for this season.
Teasdale is not yet proven, but he did win four Pennsylvania state titles, so there's high upside. He also beat Glynn, who has 24 career victories and reached the semifinals of the Midlands Championships last season, in Iowa’s preseason matchups last week.
At 141, Happel has 15 career wins and a sixth-place Midlands finish from the 2017-18 season. Max Murin is the returner here, an NCAA quarterfinalist and bloodround participant, but he’s not listed on the probables.
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This funky logjam is a luxury, of course. Better to have and not need than to need and not have. With Iowa aiming for its first NCAA team title in a decade this season, Brands is trying to decide his best lineup for the 2019-20 postseason, where this year will be defined.
So Sunday’s dual will be revealing. And no matter who gets the nod, at whatever weight, Brands made his expectations clear.
“If I’m a guy that's representing the weight class, how can I add to the environment?” Brands said. “Dull? Or explosive and entertaining? Really, that’s what it comes down to, and a lot of times, it’s a choice. Most of the time — all the time — it’s a choice.
“A lot of expectations. A lot of buzz about the team. A lot of season tickets were sold. I’ll say it again, 'How are you going to add to that environment?' That’s the message.”
Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.
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