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Midlands should settle Hawkeye line-up

[ 0 ] December 28, 2011 |

Over the next two days Iowa will try to add a 22nd team title at the Midlands Championships in Evanston, Ill.

Tom Brands would also like the Hawkeyes to lock in a lineup heading into 2012.

“We need to get a lineup sound,” Brands said. “We have not had a lineup yet, really. We’ve had some good performances as a team.

“We have a lot of firepower. This is another chance to show off that firepower.”

No. 1 Iowa (6-0) hopes to find out in Evanston, Ill., who will take the mat on Jan. 7 when the Hawkeyes host No. 2 Oklahoma State (3-0).

The Hawkeyes have sent three different wrestler to the mat in duals meets at 149 – Mark Ballweg, Jacob Ballweg and Josh Dziewa. They have also alternated between Vinnie Wagner and Jeremy Fahler at 184 and Tomas Lira and Grant Gambrall at 197.

“We have to sort some things out at some weight classes. We have 10 weight classes and still how many names?” Brands said. “You’d like guys to emerge. And I’m not sure they are emerging yet. Part of that is because of math and the weigh-in rules.”

Brands seemed ready to give Mike Kelly his chance at 149 after the redshirt freshman recently cut weight down from 157.

Gambrall, an all-American last season at 184, seems to be settling in at 197. Fahler is 5-2 and Wagner is 1-2 on the season trying to replace Gambrall at 184.

Nick Moore will take Derek St. John’s spot at 157 the next two days while St. John continues to rest a leg injury.

How that impacts the Hawkeyes title chase is unknown. There are 10 other ranked teams at Midlands, led by No. 7 Illinois, No. 10 Lehigh, and No. 11 Oklahoma.

Iowa finished fourth last season and didn’t crown any champions.

“We looked vulnerable at midlands last year, we don’t want to look vulnerable this year,” Brands said. “You don’t score a lot of points getting sixth, seventh, fifth. You score points by putting guys in the finals.”

After Midlands, Iowa has eight dual meets before the National Duals Regionals on Feb. 12 in Ames. In addition to No. 2 Oklahoma State, the Hawkeyes will face No. 14 Nebraska, No. 18 Northwestern, No. 6 Ohio State, No. 5 Penn State, and No. 3 Penn State.

“Lots of wrestling in the next couple weeks that is going to really stamp this program, or define it,” Brands said. “We’ve been tested maybe once. Not to say there weren’t individual tests or emotional tests … But only been tested once, and that was by Illinois. This is going to be a test.”

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Category: Wrestling

About Ryan Suchomel: Reach Ryan Suchomel at 339-7368 or rsuchomel@press-citizen.com. View author profile.

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