We Must Break You is the weekly round-up of news regarding the Iowa wrestling program, a breakdown of the rankings, and a look ahead to the weekend's action. Feel free to send any links, tips, suggestions, complaints, or bribes to firstname.lastname@example.org
Scheduling is a bitch. On the list of things that are really, truly horrible ideas, scheduling a sporting event opposite the Super Bowl is right near the top. Apparently the athletic administrators at Iowa and Indiana didn't get that memo, though, because they have a dual scheduled for 5:30pm CST on February 6. The Super Bowl is scheduled to kick off ten minutes later. Good luck drawing a crowd to that event, even in a place as wrestling-mad as Iowa City. Fortunately, common sense (and flexible scheduling) may prevail:
Fortunately, that problem may yet be remedied. Carver-Hawkeye Arena isn’t in use on Saturday, and it’s the only dual of the weekend for both teams.
"I have a feeling we’re going to solve that problem," Klatt said. "It’d be the smart thing to not ask our fans to make that choice."
The dual isn’t on TV, so the main hurdle comes in getting the Hoosiers to rearrange their travel plans.
The better question is why the meet was even scheduled at that time in the first place -- it's not like the date of the Super Bowl is a surprise. Sadly, no such scheduling relief is available for the basketball team, who will be playing their most winnable home game (well, most winnable conference game, period) of the conference season against Indiana this Sunday at 2pm CST -- the same time as the Bears-Packers NFC Championship Game.
EDIT: And, indeed, common sense has prevailed and the meet has been moved to 7pm CST, February 4.
Iowa City + Olympics = no brainer. As we blurbed about the other day, Iowa City was chosen to host the 2012 Olympic Trials, which is a fantastic honor. The deciding factor? Attendance, baby:
Bender said "proven attendance" was a big factor in the decision to bring the Olympic Trials to Iowa City for the first time. Attendance slipped at the event in recent years after record crowds showed up in 2000 in Dallas, where a six-session total of more than 50,000 came through the gates.
The six-session figure dropped to 33,500 in 2004 in Indianapolis and slid to 22,650 in Las Vegas in 2008.
"We’re not naïve enough to think that just because we’re hosting a wrestling event at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, at the University of Iowa, that there’s going to be 15,000 people show up (per session)," Bender said. "A number of those fans who regularly attend those events have direct affinity to the University of Iowa and specifically to that wrestling program, but we think there’s a very high probability we can create that affinity that we need to create with that spectator base to draw them in for our most important property, and that’s the Olympic Trials."
Iowa pulled in 8,125 fans on average for home duals last season when it claimed its third consecutive NCAA title. Its best crowd last year (a paid attendance of 10,967 against Oklahoma State) was more than Ohio State drew (10,934) for its entire six-dual home schedule.
It's hard to top the butts-in-seat factor that Iowa City can offer a sport like wrestling. Bender is right that just having the Olympic Trials there isn't a surefire guarantee that they'll draw on par with a dual like Iowa-Oklahoma State or Iowa-Iowa State, but there should be enough baseline interest in wrestling in the Iowa City area to draw solid crowds. Again, over 6000 fans showed up on a Friday night to see a rebuilding Iowa team take apart SIU-Edwardsville. People like wrestling around these parts. And it shouldn't hurt that some of Iowa wrestling's favorite sons (like Brent Metcalf) will likely be competing in the Trials, too.
Rankings like yawn. Rankings update ahoy:
TEAM: #10 (Intermat) / #8 (NWCA/USA Today) / #9 (d1collegewrestling) / #6 (TheOpenMat)
INDIV (Intermat / TheOpenMat / d1collegewrestling / AWN)
125: Matt McDonough (#2 / #3 / #3 / #3)
133: Tony Ramos (n/a* / #12 / n/a* / n/a*)
141: Mark Ballweg (#16 / #13 / #16 / #17)
157: Derek St. John (#15 / #13 / #16 / #16)
165: Aaron Janssen (#16 / #14 / #15 / n/a)
174: Ethen Lofthouse (#14 / #10 / #12 / #14)
184: Grant Gambrall (#17 / #17 / #17 / #14)
197: Luke Lofthouse (#15 / #15 / #15 / #15)
* Intermat ranks Tyler Clark #10 at 133; d1collegewrestling ranks him #9; AWN has him #10
To no real surprise, there wasn't much movement in the rankings this week; barring any major upsets or prolonged hot (or cold) streaks, we probably won't see a ton of movement in the rankings the rest of the season. By now, things are starting to get settled in. McD stays unchanged. Ramos is replaced by Clark in two polls, but Clark essentially just inherits Ramos' spot in those polls. Ballweg moves up slightly after his upset win; ditto DSJ and Lofthouse the Younger. Janssen moves down slightly and it's essentially business as usual for Gambrall and Lofthouse the Elder. After another unimpressive performance from Rasing, HWT joins 149 as the only weights not featuring any Iowa representation. Oh, Metcalf and Erekson... how we miss you so.
Death to poisonous nuts. It's undoubtedly small comfort given the way OSU has crushed our football dreams the past few years and just plain crushed the hoopyball team two nights ago, but there is a sport where Iowa pwns Ohio State to an astonishing degree. That sport, of course, is wrestling, where Iowa has beaten Ohio State the last thirty-three straight times and has an overall record of 35-2 against the Buckeyes. That's not too shabby. And there's little reason to expect that streak to end this year.
Both teams are rebuilding this year, but as in football that means something a little different to each team. In football, an Iowa rebuilding season means we break out the champagne for a 7-5 season; for Ohio State a rebuilding season means going 9-3 and slumming it in the Capital One Bowl. Conversely, in wrestling, an Iowa rebuilding season means we're a fringe national championship contender, while an Ohio State rebuilding season means one where they take some serious lumps. They're 2-5, with the lone wins coming over Edinboro (31-14) and Michigan State (19-16), and the losses including both nailbiters (18-17 to Pitt, 20-19 to UNI) and smashings (42-3 to Penn State, 27-6 to Cornell, 24-11 to Nebraska). The transitive property means as little in wrestling as it does in football or basketball, but Iowa beat UNI 39-0 and Michigan State 29-10. Given that Iowa leans more toward PSU, Cornell, and Nebraska than they do Pitt and UNI on the quality spectrum, this one shouldn't be too taxing.
LIKELY MATCH-UPS (Iowa wrestlers listed first; rankings from InterMat)
125: #3 Matt McDonough (SO, 13-1) vs. Bo Touris (JR, 1-4)
133: Tony Ramos (SO, 8-3) or #10 Tyler Clark (JR, 5-3) vs. #16 Ian Paddock (SO, 15-4)
141: #16 Mark Ballweg (SO, 13-3) vs. Randy Languis (FR, 10-9)
149: Matt Ballweg (SR, 3-3) vs. Mike Fee (rsFR, 5-7)
157: #15 Derek St. John (rsFR, 10-2) vs. Sean Nemec (JR, 9-10)
165: #16 Aaron Janssen (SR, 18-4) vs. #8 Colt Sponseller (SR, 13-3)
174: #14 Ethen Lofthouse (rsFR, 12-4) vs. #12 Mike Heflin (rsFR, 15-3)
184: #17 Grant Gambrall (SO, 11-4) vs. C.J. Magrum (rsFR, 5-6)
197: #15 Luke Lofthouse (SR, 11-4) vs. Peter Capone (SO, 15-10)
HWT: Blake Rasing (JR, 9-3) vs. Zach Stolarsky (JR, 2-5)
125: McD FALL Touris (Iowa, 6-0)
133: Ramos DEC Paddock (Iowa, 9-0)
141: Ballweg MAJ DEC Languis (Iowa, 13-0)
149: Ballweg DEC Fee (Iowa, 16-0)
157: DSJ DEC Nemec (Iowa, 19-0)
165: Sponseller DEC Janssen (Iowa, 19-3)
174: Heflin DEC Lofthouse (Iowa, 19-6)
184: Gambrall DEC Magrum (Iowa, 22-6)
197: Lofthouse DEC Capone (Iowa, 25-6)
HWT: Rasing DEC Stolarsky (Iowa, 28-6)
I don't often predict falls, but McD has shown some aptitude at getting them, particularly against overmatched foes and Touris is the very definition of an overmatched foe in this match. Ramos/Clark-Paddock is a toss-up match; I think Ramos gets the nod after Clark's offense-free showing against Oliver last week and edges a close decision. Languis also appears to be pretty overmatched and while Ballweg hasn't always gone for bonus points, I'm banking on the fire he showed in the third period of the Okie State match (and, frankly, the fact that Languis isn't very good) to help him get some here. Ballweg the Elder isn't great, but neither is Fee and I'll give Ballweg the edge at home. Nemec has been wrestling primarily at 149, but after Sponseller made the (wise) decision to move back up to his natural weight at 165, Nemec got tabbed to move to 157.
DSJ has been inconsistent, but I like him to win another close decision here. Sponseller beat Jake Kerr in this dual a year ago; I think he adds Janssen to his list of victims this week. Heflin-Lofthouse is another toss-up match and after giving Iowa the nod in a few earlier, I'll give OSU the advantage here. Given the inconsistency of Gambrall and Lofthouse the Elder, it's possible that OSU could pick up wins over either of them, but I think they'll come through against lesser opposition. As always, Rasing matches are difficult to predict (well, aside from the guarantee that they'll be boring), but Stolarsky has been really unimpressive so far, so I'll stick with Blake one more time.
The meet's at 3pm CST on Saturday and (for once) it's actually live on BTN. So hooray for that. If you're going to the meet, it's been designated a "Gold Rush" event so try to wear gold.