This is a hard thank you to say. It’s not that you haven’t been great, Cory Clark — you have. You’re a three-time All-American, an two time NCAA Finalist, and a Big Ten Champion. You’ve been a stalwart in the Hawkeye lineup for the entirety of your career.
You haven’t turned out to be the flashiest of the bunch, rather half (arguably more) of perhaps the best 25-33 combination in college wrestling over the past two years. Reliable and tough as nails, you’ve been one to keep your head down and work your brains out for the betterment of yourself and the program.
You did Iowa a tremendous favor wrestling at 125 your freshman year despite competing severely underweight. Still, you placed fourth on the biggest stage in the NCAA. You were as consistent as they come against any competition, seemingly getting the job done in all but a few outlying instances. They didn’t turn out how we would’ve liked, but nonetheless were hard-fought bouts.
Thanks for allowing us to grow accustomed to a seemingly automatic win no matter the opponent. You’ve done a lot of good for this program, and it’s been a pleasure to enjoy.
Now, let’s address the elephant in the room — early this season, a shoulder injury derailed what could’ve been a spectacular senior year. Wrestling with virtually one arm, Clark’s hung around in the top-four of his weight for the entirety of the campaign. Even while compiling a 12-2 record, he hasn’t been himself since the get-go. It’s become uncomfortably reminiscent of the ailment and struggle a redshirt Clark watched Matt McDonough experience during the pair’s overlapping year in Iowa City.
It’s hard to digest, and frankly isn’t fair. there’s an element missing when he’s on the mat. It’s not a mental limitation, it’s physical, and there’s nothing he can do about it.
If you’re a betting person, there was money to be made on a return trip to the Saturday night NCAA Finals in mid-March. There still is, but the chances are substantially lower. If he gets there, he can’t possibly lose for a third-consecutive season, right? Again, even running onto that big stage will be an uphill battle.
The only thing we can do is hope for an ending to Clark’s collegiate story closes better than that of the former Hawkeye great.
Who’s to say it won’t? Clark’s predecessor, Tony Ramos, was another Hawk always close to the top, but was unable to finish at the peak until his senior year. A culmination like that would make a lot of pain from the season disappear, yes?
Either way, thank you, Mr. Clark. Four-year starters don’t come around all the time, and your senior campaign’s shown us why it’s so hard to maintain that feat. It’s made us more appreciative of what you’ve done up to this point, and especially appreciative of the your mono-armed toughness.
It’s going to take a lot for the best to happen, but we wish the best for you, Cory Clark.