IOWA CITY - Nick Moore doesn't like it, but he accepts the result.
He won't put a positive spin on his one-point loss to Oklahoma State's third-ranked Tyler Caldwell on Sunday in Stillwater, Okla. The University of Iowa sophomore refuses to settle for just being competitive.
"If you knew how I felt coming off that mat you would know there was no moral victory," Moore said Wednesday during the wrestling team's weekly media gathering. "It's just another loss. To be honest with you, there's not really a lot of good to come out of that match other than to know I am right there with guys that are ranked high."
The Hawkeyes' 18th-ranked 165-pounder has demonstrated progress and has the chance to improve his 8-3 record this season when fourth-ranked Iowa heads to Michigan for a pair of Big Ten duals this weekend. The Hawkeyes (12-1, 2-0 Big Ten) face No. 18 University of Michigan (6-4, 0-2) on Friday in Ann Arbor, Mich., beginning at 6 p.m. (Iowa time). Iowa will travel to East Lansing, Mich., to wrestle Michigan State (4-6, 0-3) on Sunday.
Iowa Coach Tom Brands said Moore has improved and the Caldwell match was another step in the right direction.
"Yes, but don't misunderstand that for a moral victory," Brands said. "We like where he's headed."
Moore, who has scored 33 dual points for the Hawkeyes, more than tripling last year's total, is closer to transferring the potential he shows in practice to competition. The work in the Hawkeyes' wrestling room against top training partners has to be the catalyst for more offense against opponents.
"I have to learn to get in on my shots and learn to score, because it's been a problem," Moore said. "It needs to get fixed."
He possesses confidence and owns a simple explanation for execution.
"I have the ability. I just need to do it," Moore said. "I need to go out and put it together, put multiple shots together. Just do it."
Against Caldwell, he surrendered the match's lone takedown in the third period, which proved to be the difference. Brands and radio announcers disputed the call, but Moore could have avoided the outcome if he kept his hips up and in better position, preventing an official from making that call. Moore's fault, however, was not in his hustle.
"I don't think his was as much a lack of effort," Brands said. "I think he was in a lot of scoring positions and opportunities. He just needs to anchor those over and over again.
"Not just for one score to win, 3-2, instead of lose, 3-2, but to widen the gap."
Moore will likely face Michigan freshman Taylor Massa, who is ranked as high as ninth. Massa leads the Wolverines with a 17-5 mark, five pins and three technical falls. He has earned bonus points in 11 wins, outscoring opponents 188-95 in matches not decided by fall. It is another chance for Moore to make strides.
"I have to be ready to go at the start of the match and I've got to wrestle all the way through the end of it," Moore said. "If I do that, it really comes down to ability and if I'm capable of winning a match. In my head, I think everyone knows what I'm thinking."
The Wolverines entered the season with high expectations, but have been inconsistent with some individuals doing well, including Massa, 174-pounder Dan Yates (14-3), 125-pounder Sean Boyle (15-5) and Eric Grajales (11-4) at 149.
The Hawkeyes did not dwell on Sunday's loss to second-ranked Oklahoma State. They are focused solely on their upcoming duals.
"We came back to Iowa and we're getting ready for a Michigan trip," Brands said. "We know there's going to be some battles ahead, starting Friday."