By Richard Podhajsky
IOWA CITY, Iowa - Taking a “more is better” approach, the fourth-ranked Iowa wrestling team has its first Friday-Sunday weekend of the season this week.
The Hawkeyes travel to No. 20 Illinois on Friday before heading to Northwestern on Sunday, seeking to pick up dual wins nine and ten on the year. Iowa’s rolled through the first few duals and head coach Tom Brands says he sees real progress by the lineup top-to-bottom.
“Our fans see we’re getting better, our coaches feel like we’re getting better, and our guys feel like they’re getting better,” Brands said. “And I’m not speaking for one or two guys, I’m talking about like a culture. And when that happens, then good things are happening.
“And we’ve got to keep that happening. There’s a lot of time left but there’s not a lot of time. And in sports or life, it’s always more difficult to improve than it is to stay stagnant.”
Brands says this group has been open-minded and willing to change, leading to that overall improvement. He adds the want of something – namely a national title – also seems to be driving the team, with only sophomore 125-pounder Spencer Lee having won one.
While Illinois features a deeper lineup – the Illini have five ranked wrestlers – the match most are looking forward to this weekend is a re-match at 125 pounds on Sunday, where the second-ranked Lee takes on top-ranked Sebastian Rivera. Rivera beat Lee at the Midlands Championships last month.
Friday’s dual against Illinois starts at 8 p.m. and is being shown on BTN. There is no TV for Sunday’s dual at Northwestern – which starts at 2 p.m. – but it is being streamed on BTN2Go and FloWrestling.