116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — Max Murin recalled a summer conversation with Terry Brands.
The talk made an impact on the University of Iowa senior 149-pounder, who missed the NCAA podium by one win last year. The Hawkeyes associate head coach struck a chord, emphasizing the importance of offense.
“I had a talk with Terry that I really loved,” Murin said. “He goes no way should someone beat you with one takedown.
“I didn’t achieve my goals last year and I had some hard talks. I had to dig deep and figure out stuff about myself and about my wrestling.”
Murin has transformed that lesson into results in his final college campaign. He already has a career-best nine bonus-point victories entering second-ranked Iowa’s dual against No. 11 Northwestern on Friday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena (8 p.m., ESPNU).
The eighth-ranked Murin (12-1) is expected to face the Wildcats’ No. 4 Yahya Thomas (12-1). Murin has won seven straight bouts, the second longest win streak of his college career.
“I feel like in the past I was trying to hold,” Murin said. “I didn’t want to get scored against so I didn’t want to have my action high or be vulnerable to getting points scored against me.
“Now, I have a high pace. I can score a lot of points. Even if I do get taken down, it’s not a big deal. I can go out and score a lot of takedowns, a lot of back points and score a lot of points, in general.”
Hard-nosed and stingy wrestling has been a staple of Murin’s wrestling. He has opened up, tallying a personal-best three technical falls and four pins this season, including a pin last Friday against Illinois and a technical fall against Purdue. He also has two major decisions, scoring double digits in six matches and surpassing the 20-point plateau in four.
“He keeps it fast and there is pizazz in his wrestling,” Iowa Coach Tom Brands said. “I think he’s pretty good.”
Results don’t distract from the daily goal. The focus is to be better every single match and each day. The rest takes care of itself.
“I definitely don’t look back and over-analyze it,” Murin said. “I just do my job and score as many points as I can, try to get the pin and move forward.
“My initials are M3, and it’s a saying — Man up. Make adjustments. Move forward.”
Murin has graced Hawkeye fans with a blend of humor and wit. He has a pet snake, is a Chess master and has taken the home mat to Vanilla Ice’s “Ice, Ice Baby” all but one time when former Iowa teammate Michael Kemerer convinced him to change it once.
Tom Brands said Murin never complains and even compared him to workmanlike former Hawkeye Brandon Sorensen.
“No maintenance (and) no drama,” Tom Brands said. “Just go out and do your job.”
The 2020 National Wrestling Coaches Association All-American has not reached the NCAA podium in three appearances. The disappointment of missing All-America status last year was a catalyst to alter his approach and make the most of his final season.
“It wasn’t easy,” said Murin, who came back for his sixth season. “It’s not fun falling short of your goal again and again, but it’s made me a better person. It made me a better man and I love the sport of wrestling. That’s what it came down to where any chance to compete in the Iowa singlet, I’m going to take it.
“If they give me five more years, I’m going to take them because I love competing and love going out there in Carver-Hawkeye Arena, going out and put it on the line and competing every day.”
Iowa has won 12 straight duals, improving to 9-0 overall and 2-0 in the Big Ten Conference. The Wildcats (2-0, 1-0) have nine wrestlers ranked nationally by various wrestling polls.
Three-time NCAA champion and top-ranked Spencer Lee could face No. 4 Michael DeAugustino, while third-ranked heavyweight Tony Cassioppi is expected to wrestle No. 4 Lucas Davison.
The 133-pound matchup between No. 12 Brody Teske and No. 11 Chris Cannon is another key. The Hawkeyes may field some fill-ins at other weights, including 197, with Zach Glazier listed in the probable lineup for NCAA finalist Jacob Warner.
“We’ve got to be ready,” Tom Brands said. “We’ll see what our lineup looks like.”