Each time Iowa’s Tony Ramos glances at the third-place trophy from last year’s NCAA Championships, he remembers the opponent who kept him from climbing higher on the awards podium.
Each time his phone rings with an eager family member on the other line, it’s another reminder that the long wait to get another shot at Ohio State’s Logan Stieber is almost over.
“It’s something that’s been building up inside. It’s here and I’m excited about it,” said Ramos, the nation’s second-ranked 133-pounder. “It’s not just me that’s excited about this match; my whole family is excited about this match. They call me every day and (ask) if I’m ready to go and (say) we know you can do it.”
The clash between the top two wrestlers at 133 is the main event on the bout card Friday when the fifth-ranked Hawkeyes wrestle No. 4 Ohio State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City.
The Buckeyes stunned Iowa 21-9 last year, claiming their first victory over the Hawkeyes in 46 years. Stieber, the 2012 NCAA champion, played a key role in a stretch of five consecutive Ohio State victories that night with his first win of the year against Ramos, who is now a junior.
Stieber, now a sophomore, also topped Ramos in the Big Ten finals and again in the NCAA semifinals before he beat Oklahoma State’s Jordan Oliver for the national title.
He controlled all three matches against Ramos with his top-position skills, which neutralized Ramos’ ability to wear down opponents on his feet.
“(Ramos) is going to have to be consistent for seven minutes,” Iowa coach Tom Brands said. “He is going to have to put together some good things he has done in three matches prior and put them all together and keep doing those things for seven minutes in all positions. Is it easy against Logan Stieber? No.”