IOWA CITY — At the end of a string of four consecutive home duals, it’s all about finishing tonight for the Iowa wrestling team.
After losing three matches in the final 10 seconds a week ago in a one-point win over Iowa State, the fourth-ranked Hawkeyes are focused on wrestling complete matches in a 7:30 p.m. dual against 16th-rated Lehigh.
“We’ve got to wrestle the whole match,” Iowa 165-pounder Alex Marinelli said. “That’s for (coach) Tom (Brands) to tell them, but they know that. They know they’ve got to wrestle seven minutes.”
An inability to do that left the Hawkeyes splitting 10 matches against the Cyclones, providing lessons Brands is hopeful his team understands as it prepares for its final tune-up before the Midlands Championships on Dec. 29-30.
“We’ve got to be better, have to go the distance,” Brands said. “You can’t put yourself in the position we found ourselves in too often against Iowa State. You can’t leave it to chance.”
Lehigh, winless in three duals this season, is the highest-rated opponent Iowa will host this season at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The Mountain Hawks’ lineup includes rated wrestlers at five weight classes, including top-10 competitors in Jordan Kutler at 174 pounds, Ryan Preisch at 184 and Jordan Wood at 285.
The Hawkeyes counter with 14th-ranked Cash Wilcke at 184 and top-rated Sam Stoll at 285, but Iowa’s lineup currently has a hole at 174.
Michael Kemerer is out for the season with a knee injury, and Myles Wilson is sidelined after collapsing during his match in the Iowa State dual.
The severity of Wilson’s situation remains undetermined, with Brands saying earlier this week that Iowa’s medical staff was still working through it.
Brands said Iowa has options at 174, both in moving lighter wrestlers up and in moving competitors down, although weight reduction rules will preclude lineup possibility Mitch Bowman from dropping to that weight this week.
“The bottom line is we’re going to put the best guy on the mat at the weight class,” Brands said.
For now, Bowman said his energies are focused on being ready to wrestle at 184 or 197 if needed this week, and Brands expects Iowa to move someone up to 174 for this week’s dual.
Stoll, coming off of his own knee injury, saw his first action of the season against the Cyclones.
Brands said Stoll may or may not wrestle against Lehigh.
“The number one thing is making sure we have 100 percent his best interest in mind,” Brands said. “Our best chance (against Iowa State) was with our best guy. That’s what Stoll’s rationale was. But, why rush it? That’s where we are with him and the best decision for him is going to be what you see (against Lehigh).”