The Iowa wrestling team opens its home schedule Saturday with the Iowa City Duals, taking on SIU-Edwardsville at 9 a.m., Cornell College at 11 a.m. and Iowa Central Community College at 1 p.m. at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Iowa coach Tom Brands started the duals to give smaller programs around Iowa a chance to come to Carver-Hawkeye Arena. It also gives the Hawkeyes a chance to work out the kinks before some of the heavier hitters on their schedule.
“We don’t do it for the small schools, we do it for our guys,” Brands said. “A the same time, it’s still giving them the opportunity.”
Now in its fifth season, the duals have been what you’d expect. Iowa is 14-0 in the Iowa City Duals and Iowa wrestlers are a combined 135-5 in Iowa City Duals matches.
“I don’t think you come in expecting anything to be close,” Iowa senior Matt McDonough said. “But you expect a hard battle, a hard fight.
“Once the season starts, it’s not about the score, it’s not about anything else besides embracing the battle on the mat and moving forward each and every day.”
Brands thought the season started kind of backwards. Iowa opened the year last weekend with three duals in Tennessee, beating Cumberland 52-0, No. 17 Virginia 26-12 and Chattanooga 37-6.
“Normally we’d like to have (the Iowa City Duals) before we opened with the teams we opened with,” Brands said. “It is good to see our guys right out of the gate.”
The Iowa City Duals give Brands a controlled environment to tinker with his lineup or evaluate younger wrestlers before bigger duals arrive.
Iowa hosts Iowa State on Dec. 1 and No. 21 Lehigh on Dec. 6. Big Ten matches begin Jan. 4 against No. 5 Ohio State.
The Iowa lineup should look similar to the one that went 3-0 in Tennessee to open the season. Brands wasn’t sure if redshirt freshman Bordy Grothus would be recovered from an injury he suffered in Tennessee. If Grothus can’t go, Michael Kelly also is listed at 149 pounds.
Brands also may try true freshman Nathan Burak at 197 instead of Tomas Lira or Jeremy Fahler. Burak went 7-1 and took third place at the Lindenwood Tournament on Saturday.
“Now we’re on to the next thing and away we go,” Brands said. “We sent some pretty tough freshmen to Missouri, some tough back-ups, too. Let’s get it sorted out. We’ll keep working on it.”
Reach Ryan Suchomel at firstname.lastname@example.org or 339-7368.