IOWA CITY — Iowa Coach Tom Brands has options and that has been a good thing to start this season.
The third-ranked Hawkeyes have not had all their key components to the lineup through the first three duals, including All-Americans Michael Kemerer at 174 pounds and heavyweight Sam Stoll. Redshirt freshman Jacob Warner received a break after his trip overseas for the Junior World Championships in September and has not stepped into the 197 spot.
“We have some good things going on,” Brands said Tuesday. “We’ve got to get our best team in there at some point. I don’t know if we’re still figuring that out but we’re still putting those pieces together.”
Iowa hosts No. 14 Purdue on Saturday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, beginning at noon. Kemerer and Stoll were not included in the probable lineups, but Warner was included with Connor Corbin for the first time.
The worst thing for all involved would be to rush a wrestler back before being ready.
“We are as patient as we need to be and we’re going to do the right thing by our individuals every time,” Brands said, “and not every program can say that.”
Brands praised the team’s athletic trainer Jesse Donnenwerth, who joined Iowa’s Sports Medicine staff in 2011. He called him unique. He blends a rare understanding of the physical stress and demands of the sport and the specific needs to address any issues.
“He is the best on the planet,” Brands said. “He knows that it’s a tough sport and so when he’s talking to these guys it’s like an extension of the coaching staff.
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“We’re going to do the right thing by their health every time and we have a great medical team. So, I don’t think our approach has changed.”
Iowa (3-0) has demonstrated that approach well recently. It was cautious with Cory Clark during an injury-plagued season that he capped with an NCAA title. Last year, it was smart in delaying debuts for Spencer Lee and Alex Marinelli and limited Stoll, who was coming off a second knee surgery. Lee won a national title and Marinelli and Stoll were All-Americans.
“You have to do the right thing,” Brands said. “You just don’t throw people in because the fans are clamoring and they’re rattling things. They want this to happen right now.”
Currently, Aaron Costello is 3-0 at heavyweight. Myles Wilson is 2-1 at 174. Mitch Bowman (1-0) and Corbin (1-1) have stepped in at 197.
“Could Stoll go? Well, yeah, he could go,” Brands said. “Does he need to go? I think the weight class is in good hands whoever goes and we have to get ready again for a tough match on Saturday.”
Brands added, “Warner is ready when Warner is ready. He is getting ready every day. He works hard. His approach is great and he wrestled in a real important tournament that he prepared the right way for, so we needed to give him a break. We’ll see where we’re at on Saturday.”
Saturday marks the Big Ten Conference opener for Iowa. The Hawkeyes welcome Purdue, which is 2-0 this season under former Hawkeye Tony Ersland. He was a member of Iowa’s NCAA title teams from 1995-97.
Ersland is in his fifth season leading the Boilermakers. Brands said Iowa will have to be ready to compete against a team with six ranked wrestlers. He assumed Ersland might downplay the impact wrestling in CHA and agreed it isn’t a tough place to compete if the Hawkeyes make it that way.
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“You can put a mat on the moon and make it a tough match for your opponent,” Brands said. “There’s one-sixth gravity and you have to put more effort to spike him and put him down but you can still make it tough on your opponent. That’s what we want to see.
“We don’t automatically think we have an advantage here. We have to make that advantage for us.”
Rathbun earns A-R-C honor
Wartburg’s top-ranked Brock Rathbun was named Male Athlete of the Week on Tuesday by the American Rivers Conference.
Rathbun remains unbeaten and owns a 24-match win streak that dates back to last season.
The defending NCAA Division III 133-pound champion won the Concordia Wisconsin Open on Saturday. He went 4-0 with a pin and two technical falls, including one over Wisconsin-Parkside’s fourth-ranked Airk Furseth, who placed sixth at the NCAA D-II Championships last year.
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