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Iowa wrestler Patrick Kennedy excited about trip home to Minnesota
But this former Gopher fan is now a ‘grown up’ Hawkeye
Patrick Kennedy wasn’t always a fan of Iowa wrestling.
As a matter of fact, he remembers a time when he actively cheered against the Hawkeyes.
“When I was younger, I was a (Minnesota) Gophers fan,” he said. “Now that I’m older and I’ve grown up, I freaking love the Tigerhawk.”
That all makes sense. Kennedy is from Kasson-Mantorville, Minn., so growing up a Gophers fan was not unusual.
Loving the Hawkeyes today is kind of the expectation.
Kennedy will lead the second-ranked Hawkeyes into Friday’s Big Ten Conference dual against the No. 12 Gophers at Maturi Pavilion. The dual begins at 8 p.m. on BTN.
Kennedy was a highly decorated prep recruit, winning four Minnesota state titles and his final 108 matches, including 73 in a row without surrendering a point.
When it came to his next phase, picking Iowa was “easy.”
“I didn’t come here just for a couple of days,” he said of frequent visits to the Iowa City area. “I came here a lot ... I was down for days, weeks at a time.”
He got to know the staff and the program during training phases.
“It was how I was raised,” he said of Iowa’s wrestling philosophy. “My high school coach was a Hawk (Jamie Heidt) and that’s how we trained.
“It was an easy transition. ... It’s probably the best decision I’ve made in my life so far.”
A sophomore 165-pounder, Kennedy is excited to head home for a dual against the Gophers. He’s expected to wrestle Andrew Sparks or Cale Carlson.
“It might be a little more personal,” he said.
But he’s taking a simple “next match” attitude into the dual. He is 15-2, ranked seventh nationally and coming off a 2-1 overtime win over Penn State’s Alex Facundo.
“I’m just ready to go out there and right my own wrongs from last weekend, put some points on the board,” he said.
The highlight of Friday’s dual could be at 125, where Iowa’s top-ranked Spencer Lee is expected to battle No. 5 Patrick McKee. But Lee has had little difficulty with ranked opponents this season.
He is 11-0, winning every match by either major, technical fall or pin. He had his six-pin streak snapped against Penn State when he “only” scored a tech fall over Marco Vespa.
Iowa Coach Tom Brands would like to see more Hawkeye wrestlers compete like Lee.
“I think our guys need to do a better job of going out with the idea it doesn’t have to be close,” he said. “Why make it close?
“Go perform. Go put on a show, a spectacular display.”
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