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Iowa wrestling wraps up dual season at Nebraska
Sunday’s dual is important final tuneup before Big Ten Championships
Tom Brands said all the right things about Sunday’s Big Ten wrestling dual against Nebraska.
“It’s like any other dual,” he said during a Zoom conference. “We’ve got to be ready to go.
“They are a talented team ... It’s the next date on the calendar.”
But this is not just “any other dual.” It’s the final dual of the season, the final tuneup for what’s really important — the Big Ten and NCAA championships in March. Workouts will intensify inside the Dan Gable Wrestling Complex over the two weeks before the Big Ten meet.
Most of the important work will happen in that wrestling room, but competition is where that work is on display.
No, Sunday’s dual won’t make or break the No. 2 Hawkeyes’ season, but it could determine the direction they take before and at the conference tournament.
Iowa (13-1, 6-1) meets the No. 10 Cornhuskers (6-4, 3-4) Sunday night at 6 inside the Bob Devaney Sports Center. BTN will televise.
“There’s a lot at stake,” Brands said. “We’ve got work to do and we’ve got to keep working.
“We want to perform at our best every time.”
What does that mean in a dual that, in reality, means very little?
“We want to see what the program is about,” Brands said. “We want to see what our guys are about. ... We need to be scoring points. We need to be weathering storms if it happens, building leads.
“And if we’re doing that, then we’re doing what the philosophy of the program is.”
Nebraska’s record might not be stellar, but the Cornhuskers offer individual challenges, especially at 197 pounds where Iowa’s fourth-ranked Jacob Warner (13-2) meets No. 3 Eric Schultz (13-1). Nebraska also has No. 6 Mikey Labriola at 174 (facing No. 2 Michael Kemerer) and No. 7 Ridge Lovett at 149 (against No. 10 Max Murin).
Brands said Iowa’s Drake Ayala could go at 125. Or he might wait until the Big Ten Championships, March 5-6 back in Lincoln, Neb.
“He’s as good as he can be,” Brands said. ‘We’ll make a decision Sunday.
“We’ve got to be really, really smart with our direction on him.”
Teams: No. 2 Iowa (13-1, 6-1) at No. 10 Nebraska (6-4, 3-4)
Where: Bob Devaney Sports Center, Lincoln, Neb.
First bout: 6 p.m.
Radio: KXIC-AM (800)
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