By James Geerdes
The state of Iowa is experiencing its biggest week of wrestling of the year.
At the high-school level, the state championships are in full swing. Fort Dodge, New Hampton, and Don Bosco have each taken home state dual titles, while individual wrestlers will be fighting for the podium until Saturday at the Wells Fargo Arena.
Many of those wrestlers will look toward a bigger stage on Feb. 18 as Iowa wrestling will square off with Iowa State for the Dan Gable Traveling Trophy. Under head coach Tom Brands, the Hawkeyes has won the last 12 meetings with the Cyclones.
“The rivalry is important because you’re after the same real estate,” Brands said. “And not just local real estate, but national real estate. You look at where they want to go, and you look at where we want to go — it’s the same place.”
The Iowa State dual will be Iowa’s final chance for a tune-up before the Big Ten Championships on March 3.
“I still got to get up for it. It’s another opponent,” senior 149-pounder Brandon Sorensen said. “I might see some things that are different from other opponents. Elbows in, no rolling, no injuries. You got to be smart here. It’s getting to that time, and we got to go out there and take it to the guy.”
Iowa spent the last two months working through some of the best talent in the Big Ten, as well as in the nation. Three losses blemish Iowa’s record; Michigan, Ohio State, and Penn State each overpowered the Black and Gold.
Iowa State’s roster is not quite so strong as those that Iowa has lost to. Penn State, Ohio State, and Michigan are ranked No. 1, No. 2, and No. 4 respectively. Iowa State is unranked with an 8-9 record.
Iowa’s probable lineup has a combined record of 133-36, while Iowa State’s has posted a record of 150-104.
Last season’s meeting between the two state schools heavily favored the Hawkeyes. Brands’ squad earned another win over the Cyclones by winning seven of the 10 bouts, for a final team score of 26-9.
Iowa’s probable lineup has five native Iowans, while Iowa States’ has six. But Tom Brands’ squad are all Iowans, no matter where they hail from.
“We want to have a presence on our team with Iowans — and we have 10 Iowans on our team,” Brands said. “I look at Spencer Lee, he’s an Iowan. I look at Vince Turk, he’s an Iowan. I look at Alex Marinelli, he’s an Iowan. Sam Stoll is an Iowan. Their addresses are in Iowa. Their home is Iowa now. That’s what college athletics is all about. Change your location, and you become part of that program. And if you got one foot at home, and one foot in Iowa City, I don’t know how committed you are. You ask Alex Marinelli where he’s from, he’s from right across the street over here.”
Sorensen, a Cedar Falls native, has grown up as a Hawkeye and is ranked No. 2 in the nation at 149 pounds.
“Growing up watching all the sports — Iowa football, basketball, wrestling — now I have to do my part to have the Hawks come out on top,” he said.