Undefeated in nine matches, Iowa wrestler Josh Dziewa has been perfect on the mat this season.
Perfection for a Hawkeye wrestler goes way beyond wins and losses, though. It also depends on how you wrestle each match and whether you follow the longstanding Iowa style of dictating the pace and constantly being on the attack.
That’s where Dziewa has struggled at times this season, and it could cost him in his next match at 141 pounds against Edinboro’s second-ranked Mitchell Port today.
Third-ranked Iowa (4-0) will face No. 15 Edinboro in a dual that begins at 6 p.m. today at McComb Fieldhouse on the Edinboro campus in Pennsylvania.
“Our downfall, if there is one, or chink in the armor with Dziewa, is to get him to get some pop and some energy and some explosion into his wrestling,” Iowa coach Tom Brands said. “There has to be some more explosion, and with that change of pace, I’m thinking his awareness will increase. And in this match, he’s going to have to have awareness.”
Dziewa echoed Brands’ sentiment about needing more pop in his arsenal. They both agreed that Dziewa failed to dictate the pace in his match against Iowa State’s Gabe Moreno on Sunday, even though Dziewa prevailed by a 12-5 margin. Iowa won 23-9.
Brands used the phrase “laissez-faire” to describe Dziewa’s performance against Moreno, who scored a takedown early in the match and led 4-3 after the first period.
“He’s 100 percent right,” Dziewa said of Brands’ critique. “Last week, I was slow off the whistle and I wasn’t really ready to go. And that’s something I don’t have time to make up for this week. I have to be ready to go from the beginning to the end.”
Dziewa is determined to wrestle his match and force his style on Port, who excels at doing the same thing to his opponents. Port finished runner-up at 141 at the 2013 NCAA Championships.
“It’s an exciting opportunity,” Dziewa said. “He’s a tough kid, but so am I. So I’m ready to go for it.”
Today’s match will be the first time that Dziewa and Port have faced each other, but they’re hardly strangers with both being Pennsylvania natives. Dziewa also watched Port defeat former Iowa wrestler Mark Ballweg in a dual at Carver-Hawkeye Arena last season.
“I’m just not worried about it,” Dziewa said. “I’m going out there to wrestle my pace, and he can try to do what he wants to do. That’s what wrestling is.”
Dziewa also is downplaying the fact that he and Port will face off in their home state. Dziewa is from the Philadelphia suburb of Yardley on the eastern side of the state, whereas the Edinboro campus is in northwest Pennsylvania. Port is from Bellefonte, Pa., which is about 12 miles northeast of State College, Pa., in the central part of the state.
Dziewa compiled a 124-7 record at Council Rock High School, winning a state title as a senior.
“It’s not really out my way,” Dziewa said of the Edinboro campus. “It’s about seven hours from my house out in Pennsylvania. But it’s good to be back in the Keystone State and show what I have.”
Dziewa said his parents won’t be able to attend the match, but he still expects a large turnout in an area wrestling is popular.
“I know both of my parents have to work,” said Dziewa, a junior, who is ranked 13th at 141 pounds and has a 37-7 career record. “But I’m sure there will be fans from the Pittsburgh area that I’ve known for a while that will be out there.”
Dziewa described the challenge facing him as having seven minutes, which is the length of an individual match, to seize the moment.
“I just think I have to be ready,” he said. “That’s about it. I just have to be ready to go and focus on getting the job done. I’ve only got seven minutes.”
And though Dziewa respects Port as a wrestler, Dziewa didn’t change his preparation for today’s match.
“I’m going out there and I’m wrestling my match,” Dziewa said. “I haven’t put in any more time into him than I have for anyone else in the past. So I’m looking forward to wrestling my match.”