By Taylor McNitt
Today, Iowa wrestling will host the 10th-annual Iowa City Duals, facing off against Iowa Central, Buffalo, and North Dakota State.
Are the Hawkeyes ready for it? Maybe.
“We still have things to work on, but the season’s underway,” said senior Brandon Sorensen. “We have the Iowa City Duals, so it’s go time.”
This morning will kick off with the Hawkeyes taking on the Tritons at 10 a.m., the Bulls at 11:30 a.m., and to cap the tournament, the Bison at 1:30 p.m.
The likely lineup for these matches will see true freshman Justin Stickley wrestling at 125, either sophomore Paul Glynn or senior Phillip Laux wrestling at 133, sophomore Vince Turk taking the 141 spot, Sorensen claiming 149, either sophomore Michael Kemerer or Keegan Shaw wrestling at 157, freshman Kaleb Young taking 165, sophomore Joey Gunther wrestling at 174, junior Mitch Bowman at 184, sophomore Cash Wilke at 197, and junior Sam Stoll claiming heavyweight-285.
The lineup, however, is a far cry from being set in stone.
“It’s November, and we have some things that are going on that you won’t see our best team right away,” said head coach Tom Brands. “Our team could look way different going into March or maybe even going into December. We’ll be ready, but will we have our best lineup? I’m not sure we will and probably not.”
The Luther Open last weekend helped solidify the lineup for today, giving the unknowns another shot after the wrestle-offs to prove themselves and claim a spot.
Proving themselves is the key, though — even beyond claiming spots, talk of how young the team is in general means the wrestlers will have to go hard every step of the way, especially in the beginning.
“We can’t put too much thought into what other people are saying,” Kemerer said. “You wrestle for yourself, you wrestle for your teammates, for the program. It’s definitely something you take just a little personally because of the history this program has, but hey, we’ve got to go out and earn it, we’ve got to go out and prove ourselves. That’s how I look at it.”
And that outlook will guarantee growth, which is exactly what the program and Brands look for.
“We’re not in a hurry to get everything pieced together, but I know one thing: We got a lot of guys in that room who are bringing a lot of life, a lot of energy every day,” Brands said. “Without making predictions, I think we’ve got the right personnel here. We’ve got the right personnel. There’s just a lot of good things that are happening.”
So are the Hawkeyes ready for the Duals? Definitely.
Is the lineup what it needs to be? Maybe.