Iowa's 149-pound Brandon Sorensen wrestles Old Dominion's Kevin Budock during the first session of the 55th Annual Midlands Championships in the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, on Friday, Dec. 29, 2017. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

Steadfast Sorensen sees a new level

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Hawkeye wrestler Brandon Sorensen is on a familiar stage this season, and he is excelling.

By James Geerdes

james-geerdes@uiowa.edu

Iowa’s lone starting senior knows consistency.

While working to a 14-0 record, Brandon Sorensen has yet to be down down in a match this season.

Although his strong defense has been the highlight this season so far, the Cedar Falls native turned up his dial with a technical fall over Oklahoma State’s Boo Lewallen, the No. 14 wrestler at 149 pounds.

On his way to the tech, Sorensen racked up a near-fall and 8 takedowns, 6 of which came in the third period. He pushed the score from 11-4 at the end of the second to 23-8 by the end of the third, while holding 2:51 of riding time.

“When I am attacking, that’s when I’m best,” he said. “When my feet and hands are moving together, I’m feeling good. That’s when I think I can beat anyone in the nation, and that’s what happened.”

His performance helped stoke the flame that led Iowa to the upset over the then-No. 3 Cowboys.

“It shows a lot of our guys are able to dig deep,” 184-pounder Mitch Bowman said. “Sorensen getting a big tech there at the end [helped]. He kept working the entire time to get us big points and widen the duel.”

Sorensen’s wrestling has inspired the team in other ways as well.

RELATED: Sorensen, Hawkeyes bounce back

Alongside sophomore Michael Kemerer, Sorensen leads a Hawkeye squad in an unfamiliar position: underdogs.

Before taking down Oklahoma State, Iowa ranked seventh in the coaches’ poll after starting the season eighth. Historically, Iowa is almost always in the top three, and the Hawkeyes surged to fourth this week.

As the No. 2 149-pound wrestler in the nation, Sorensen has not only been in the forefront of Iowa’s attack this season but also in the previous three.

In his fourth year as a starter for head coach Tom Brands, the senior has built an impressive résumé. Sorensen is a three-time All-American and is projected to be a four-timer, and he has finished fourth, second, and third nationally. He is a three-time Midlands champion as well.

“[Sorensen and Kemerer] are the leaders because of their credentials, and they bring the same kind of life into that room that everybody else does,” Brands said on Nov. 8. “They might have a little bit of a different method, but they bring that same life.”

Sorensen is quiet in the wrestling room, but his work ethic and determination paint a powerful canvas for his teammates.

In his match with Lewallen, Sorensen didn’t hesitate after a mistake led to a Cowboy takedown in the second period that cut his lead to 6-4.

“The biggest thing is when [Sorensen] gave up that takedown, he didn’t look back,” Brands said. “He didn’t look in the rearview mirror and freak himself out. He kept going, and we needed those bonus points.”

Sorensen’s wrestling has trickled down to Iowa’s younger wrestlers. Even though Spencer Lee is widely regarded as the best true freshman lightweight in college wrestling, he still learns from Iowa’s senior.

“He had an awesome performance [against Lewallen],” Lee said. “He kept that pressure — that pace — that’s something that I have to do. I’m looking to learn from him.”

Sorensen’s hardest challenge still lies ahead of him. He will face Ohio State’s sixth-ranked Ke-Shawn Hayes on Jan. 21. Then, after a loaded month, on Feb. 10, Sorensen will come face-to-face with two-time NCAA Champion Zain Retherford of Penn State, a longtime rival of Iowa’s 149-pounder.

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