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It was one of Mark Ironside's defining moments.
Ironside posted a memorable victory when he stopped Lock Haven's Cary Kolat in the 1996 National Wrestling Coaches Association All-Star Classic at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Ironside battled back from a third-period deficit to win 9-8 and hand Kolat his only loss that season. Kolat entered the match ranked No.1 with an 11-0 record, winning all by first-period pins. Ironside was 21-0 and ranked second. It was one of the few times Ironside played the role of underdog and he said it is one of his most talked about performance.
“It's bigger from a fan perspective and other people's eyes than it was mine,” Ironside said. “It was a big match and a turning point in my career, but it was just one of those situations where it was No. 1 vs. No. 2 and I had to go out and do my job and I did my job.”
Kolat had red-shirted the previous season after transferring to Lock haven from Penn State, where he was a two-time All-American and a national runner-up as a freshman in 1993. Ironside had earned the first of four All-American finishes the season before but was relatively unproven.
As the wrestlers warmed up in the wrestling room, Kolat's warm-up consisted of just drilling for about three minutes. Ironside knew Kolat was underestimating him and insists the difference was Kolat not being ready to compete.
“It motivated me to make sure I was ready to go and go out and wrestle a full hard seven minutes,” Ironside said. “Because his improper preparedness for that match it cost him.”
It almost took the whole seven minutes. Ironside never led the match until late.
Ironside trailed 6-2 after a Kolat reversal in the third, but oddly, giving up those two points was when Ironside knew Kolat was spent.
“I could feel him really break physically,” Ironside said. “As soon as he got the reversal on me, I was able to come up and get an escape immediately and he couldn't ride me at all. He had no energy to ride me.”
The attack began off the restart following his escape to make it 6-3. Ironside began his assault scoring three takedowns in the final period, including the decisive score with 26 seconds left.
The tenacity and relentless style long associated with Ironside and Iowa wrestling was on display.
“I didn't wear him out by just pushing, shoving and hand-fighting,” Ironside said. “I wore him out by hitting offensive holds and attacks throughout the whole seven minutes.”
Hawkeye fans became frenzied as Ironside pumped his fists briefly and ran off the mat. Being in front of the home crowd added to the “sweet victory” according to Ironside.
“It was just an amazing feeling,” he said. “It was a fun situation to be in an All-star team to start with yet alone being in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.