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Inspriring Story of Excellence – #1 Hawkeyes Striving to Do Better
by On February 16, 2009

This is a news article that I read about the current Number 1 Ranked Wrestling Team in the U.S. It happens to be the University of Iowa Hawkeyes, but the story and quotes aren’t really about wrestling, they are about winning and excellence.

I thought it was a great story about uping your game even when things are going well. I found it inspiring. Just imagine when they talk about beating their opponent that they are talking about mediocrity or complacency or about your comfort zone.

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Hawkeyes glad to be winning, but … They know they can do better
Source – Andy Hamilton • Iowa City Press-Citizen • January 23, 2009

There’s been a feeling of discontent surrounding Iowa’s top-ranked wrestling team lately.

The Hawkeyes have been beating all of their opponents. They just haven’t been beating them to a pulp recently.

And so under Iowa wrestling’s doctrine of dominance, the recent performances by the Hawkeyes have called for examination.

“We’re winning, and it’s positive that we’re winning,” All-American 174-pounder Jay Borschel said. “But we’re not winning the way we want to win, the way we expect to win or the way everyone else expects us to win. We’ve got to pick it up.”

It might seem as if everything is fine and dandy for the Hawkeyes (15-0) on the surface. Iowa takes a 29-meet winning streak – the fifth-longest string of consecutive dual victories in school history – into a 7 p.m. clash today with No. 15 Wisconsin (6-3) at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

The Hawkeyes have gone 55 weeks without a loss. They’ve won 132 of their 160 individual matches in dual competition this season. They’ve outscored opponents 518-92 in duals, and they’ve won at least six matches in every meet.

“An outsider would look at it and say we’re having a pretty successful season, and we are,” fifth-ranked 133-pounder Daniel Dennis said. “I’m not being negative about our season, but we’re trying to improve it. We’re not super excited with where we’re at. We happy we’re doing well and progressing and getting better, but we’re not sitting on where we’re at right now.”

Super excitement for the Hawkeyes might come from lapping the field rather than just leading a pack of national championship challengers at the midpoint of the season.

Iowa strengthened its grip on the No. 1 ranking by winning the NWCA National Duals earlier in the month and beating Oklahoma State on Sunday. During those five dual wins, Iowa’s regular starters went 10-4 in bouts decided by two points or less.

“They don’t have to be close matches,” Iowa coach Tom Brands said. “I think we have to force our style more with being aware of what we want to do instead of forcing our style and not knowing what we want to do. There’s a difference there.”

Iowa is favored in eight matches against the Badgers based on rankings. Top-ranked Alex Tsirtsis (141) and Brent Metcalf (149) will be involved in rematches of two title bouts from last month’s Midlands Championships. Tsirtsis will try to avenge his only loss of the season against No. 5 Zach Tanelli. Metcalf, a winner of 55 straight matches, takes on fifth-ranked Kyle Ruschell.

“We’re clearly not wrestling our best, and there’s still some good results and good things happening,” Brands said. “That’s positive. We’re getting some things that are consistent, and one of those is that we seem to bail ourselves out of trouble pretty good.”

Brands, though, would rather see the Hawkeyes avoid danger all together. And although Iowa is unbeaten, the Hawkeyes haven’t yet produced a performance that has been met with their full approval. Part of that could be attributed to a lineup that hasn’t been fully assembled since November with All-American 125-pounder Charlie Falck and junior 197-pounder Chad Beatty missing competition time with injuries.

But another part could be the slowing production of major decisions, technical falls and pins. The Hawkeyes have picked up bonus points in eight of their last 40 matches. Metcalf has three technical falls and a major decision at 149 pounds during that stretch. No other Iowa wrestler has major than one bonus-point win since the start of the quarterfinals at the National Duals.

“I think you’ve got to relax and do what you’re capable of doing,” Brands said. “I don’t mean relax from a lazy point of view, but just relax from an execution point of view. These guys have tremendous ability, but there are certain things you’ve got to do to let that ability come out. One of those things is being able to wrestle with good set-ups and not just blind fury.”

Dennis and Borschel – both 3-2 winners against Oklahoma State in matches they entered as clear favorites – are perhaps two of the best examples.

“I’m being too frantic out there,” said Borschel, who is 17-2. “I don’t know if it’s a worry (where) I’m out there worrying too much. I think I’ve got to settle down and wrestle more under control and relaxed like I feel I should and like I have in the past.

“It’s something I just figured out, and I’ve got to make an honest effort to correct it. I’m out there almost flailing around and that’s not how I wrestled in past when I had success, and I’ve got to go back to that.”

Dennis, on the other hand, has controlled the pace of his matches while compiling a 16-2 record but hasn’t controlled the scoreboard the way he would like.

“That’s put perfectly,” he said. “I feel like I’m controlling the match until the last 30 seconds when I’m letting my opponent have hope in the match by him looking at the scoreboard. Maybe it’s not him feeling the match or feeling how it goes. He doesn’t have much hope until he looks at the scoreboard and realizes it’s a one-point or two-point match and all he has to do is sneak in a takedown and then he’s going for broke at the end of the match. That’s when he’s dangerous, and I need to not let it get to that point.”
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Be Free!

Tom Weber
Instructor

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