IOWA CITY — Iowa wrestler Aaron Cashman has patiently waited in the wings.
The redshirt freshman has been ready to wrestle despite remaining a reserve to three-time world champion, two-time NCAA titlist and top-ranked Spencer Lee.
Cashman will finally get a call to step in to the top-ranked Hawkeyes lineup when they travel to No. 12 Princeton for a non-conference dual Sunday at Jadwin Gymnasium, beginning at 1 p.m. He is expected to face All-American Pat Glory, who is ranked fourth nationally by trackwrestling.com.
“I see it as a great opportunity for myself,” Cashman said. “Just show my skills.”
Some college wrestlers have elected to take an Olympic redshirt while preparing for next year’s Olympic Trials. Lee’s international and collegiate accomplishments made him eligible for one, but the Iowa coaching staff, Lee and his family decided to train for freestyle and compete in the college season simultaneously.
Others have done it in the past. Cashman learned he might have a chance to take the mat at times this season.
“I was super excited about it when I was told Spencer might not be wrestling a lot of the matches,” said Cashman, a Minnesota state champion and two-time state runner-up who passed on his senior prep season to train at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. “You’re going to be getting some matches in. That’s why I came here. I came to wrestle for the Hawkeyes to perform. Show the fans I can be a top-ranked guy, too.”
Cashman trains with some of the best lightweights in the country. In addition to Lee, the Iowa room has top-ranked 133-pounder Austin DeSanto, former starter Paul Glynn, highly-touted Gavin Teasdale and world-class competitors in the Hawkeye Wrestling Club.
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“I just see it as a way to build every day,” Cashman said. “There’s no way I’m not getting better every day wrestling with those guys.
“It’s great for me. Knowing that I’m wrestling with them also gives me confidence.”
Iowa Coach Tom Brands wanted Cashman to get acclimated to the pre-dual routine. Cashman weighed in for the Iowa State and Wisconsin duals, even though Lee wrestled and earned technical falls. Cashman prepared for each match as if he were the varsity wrestler, getting used to the physical and mental adjustments with a one-hour weigh-in.
“Every week I’ve been doing the same thing,” Cashman said. “The coaches never told me until the last second. Every week the past three weeks, I’ve been thinking I was the guy until five minutes before the match.
“Just going to do the same. Tom and (Iowa associate head coach) Terry (Brands) coach me very well. They know what they’re doing, so I put all my trust in them and it will be a good outcome.”
The Hawkeyes subscribe to the next-man in mentality. Brands said Cashman has done what is expected of him.
“That’s his job (and) you do your job,” Brands said. “He’s handled it like a professional. He’s handled it like we expect him to.”
If you aren’t aware of Cashman’s style, he describes it as a mesh of quickness and physical technique. He has become stronger and developed offense from ties.
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“I’m kind of a mix between Iowa style and being slick, a slick, fast style, too,” Cashman said. “I’ve always kind of wrestled from space but I’m also trying to get in the grind of college wrestling.”
Cashman was ranked No. 1 nationally at 113 as a prep at the same time Glory was top-ranked at 120. He wanted to move up to test himself against bigger guys, but didn’t get the chance. This could be a chance to make an impression, proving he is more than Lee’s backup.
“It’s going to be a tough guy,” Cashman said. “I respect him but I’m not going to respect him that much. I just see it as another match for me, especially wrestling with one of the best guys probably in the whole world, Spencer Lee, every day.”
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