2023-24 Iowa Wrestling

All Eyes Ahead For Iowa Wrestling With Penn State Looming

All Eyes Ahead For Iowa Wrestling With Penn State Looming

After losing on the road against Michigan, the Iowa wrestling team is turning the page to the next challenge with #1 Penn State up next Friday night.

Feb 6, 2024 by John Bohnenkamp
All Eyes Ahead For Iowa Wrestling With Penn State Looming

Iowa wrestling coach Tom Brands wasn’t interested in looking back on Tuesday, because he knows what’s just a few days ahead.

The third-ranked Hawkeyes, coming off a 24-11 loss at Michigan last week, get #1 Penn State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday, so thinking about the past wasn’t going to be constructive, Brands said.

“We’ve got to perform better, we know that,” Brands said. “So onward, forward, looking ahead.”

Iowa had just three wins in last Friday’s dual, and Brands is hoping that is motivation going forward.

“I know there’s regret,” he said. “And when there’s regret, there’s a little bit of thorn under your saddle, burr under your saddle. Time to go.

“I don’t look at things like that as a positive. You have to make it positive. It’s easier to go forward with wins. When things don’t go your way, you have to get back on the horse and go. It didn’t go our way. I’m never one to say, ‘Oh, that’s going to be good for us.’ You make the most out of what happened, and if you were on the wrong end of it individually, then right the wrong.”

One of the more stunning defeats was top-ranked Real Woods’ 14-2 loss to Sergio Lemley at 141 pounds. Woods came into the match 12-0 this season, and will face top-ranked Beau Bartlett on Friday.

Asked how Woods has responded this week, Brands said, “We’ll find out. The response that I see is that you’re moving forward. Are you going to measure the response to if he wins or not against the #1 guy in America? That’s probably a good way to measure it. Just go out and wrestle your match.”

Iowa has lost four of the last five duals against Penn State.

“He is a worthy opponent, I’ve said that a lot,” Brands said of Penn State coach Cael Sanderson. “He’s been the best in the last decade or longer. He’s been the standard, and we’ve got to pick it up.”

Brands said he knows the hype that goes with this dual.

“Make the highlight video go your own way. I don’t want to be on anyone else’s highlight video,” Brands said. “I think that’s a pretty simple concept. 

“The word ‘ransack’ comes to mind. When your opponent is ransacked by the good guys, those are the memories. And that’s what we’ve got to do. We’ve got to make it a tough battle. This is going to be a tough one. We’re excited, it’s going to be a tough one. We’re looking forward to it, and away we go.”

Glazier’s Challenge

Zach Glazier had one of the wins against Michigan, a technical fall over Bobby Striggow at 197 to go to 19-0 this season.

Now he gets top-ranked and three-time national champion Aaron Brooks in Friday’s dual.

“It’s the next match,” Glazier said. “That’s what the coaches preach. One is not necessarily more important than the other. Obviously there’s added significance to this one. I’m looking to go out there and have fun, enjoy what I do. Yeah, it’s going to be a bigger test than I’ve had all season, but these are the type of matches that I want, that I look forward to.”

Five of Glazier’s last six wins have come by either major decision or technical fall.

Glazier came into the season with just a 9-5 career record, but has come up with big wins all seasons to clinch dual wins for the Hawkeyes.

“What I see, when he’s ready to go, is I’ve seen consistency,” Brands said. “There’s a lot of thinking that goes into this sport that can get in your own way, and I think he’s eliminated that. In the past, when he’s taken losses, he’s been overthinking that.”

“I feel like I’m doing a good job of just enjoying the moment,” Glazier said. “The weight cut, the pre-match — right before you go out, you get a little nervous. All of it, I’m enjoying every little thing. And I think that’s helped me a lot. Just take a step back and realize it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Glazier knows Brooks will test him.

“He’s not a guy who is going to sit back and hold points. He’s going to want to go out there and score points. That’s why he’s successful, that’s why he’s a fan favorite. I like that. That’s the guy I want to wrestle.”

Rathjen’s Battle 

Caleb Rathjen has been sharing the time at 149 with Victor Voinovich.

The competition, Rathjen said, has tested him this season.

“It’s fun, but it’s hard,” said Rathjen, who is 12-3 this season and ranked 15th nationally. “You have to come in every day, and you have to be ready to go. If I don’t have a good practice, you’re thinking, ‘Maybe they go with him.’ You have to put your best foot forward at practice. Then again, you can’t let that get in the back of your mind. You’ve just got to wrestle, you have to think about getting better. You can’t worry about what someone else is doing.”

Rathjen won the 149-pound title at the Soldier Salute in December, beating Voinovich and teammate Cade Siebrecht on the way to the championship.

“We have a situation there,” Brands said. “We have two guys there who are sorting it out. I don’t know who’s leading. I know (Rathjen) had a Soldier Salute that was really solid, and that was probably the difference.”