Hawkeyes, Cowboys ready to clash
Top-ranked Iowa faces No. 2 Oklahoma State on Saturday
The list of accomplishments is mind boggling.
Oklahoma State has won 34 NCAA Championships. Iowa owns 23. The rest of the country's wrestling programs have combined for 25.
The Cowboys have earned 134 individual titles. The Hawkeyes have 78.
|CHANGING OF THE GUARD?|
The top-ranked teams in all three divisions will face tough tests this weekend. However there is a possibility that by Monday, the No. 1 position in all three divisions could be filled by schools from Iowa.
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Forty wrestlers from OSU have competed in the Olympics. Iowa has seen 17 of its former student-athletes suit up for the United States.
"Without question the two programs have competed at a very high level for a number of years," Oklahoma State head coach John Smith said. "These duals are special, something to remember as a wrestler. The environment [at Carver-Hawkeye Arena] forces you to either focus or get beat."
The two powerhouses square off on Saturday night in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes are expected to take an 84-match unbeaten streak into the 45th meeting between the schools -- Iowa (6-0) wrestles at Indiana on Friday night. With two victories this weekend, Iowa would break Oklahoma State's 84-match unbeaten streak from 1959 to 1966 under legendary head coach Myron Roderick.
Iowa's only blemish on their dual record since 2008, a span of 38 victories, is a tie at Oklahoma State in January of 2011. The last team to beat the Hawkeyes? Oklahoma State in 2008 in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Oklahoma State holds the NCAA record for consecutive wins -- 76 from 1937 to 1951.
"There's plenty to wrestle for [Saturday]," said Smith. "Those records mean something and Oklahoma State takes pride in owning those records."
"They know the magnitude of this and you don't really have to do a whole lot," saidc. "The preparation is being ready to go at the beginning of the match and wrestling hard the entire match – that's the preparation. You get up for it.
"The emotion is super-charged when there's double the normal crowd and it's an important meet. The magnitude of this is felt by fans and coaches, along with the wrestlers on both sides."
The goal every year for collegiate wrestling's two alpha males is to win national championships in March. But breaking a streak owned by a top rival is never a bad thing -- or keeping a rival from breaking it.
"We don't talk about it much, if at all," said Brands. "I'm trying to think the last time we mentioned it. Probably the last time was this summer -- pointing out there's a reason why you have a streak and that's because you guys are doing a good job and you've got to keep doing a good job. It's ironic, historically, Oklahoma State owns the record."
Both squads will bring plenty of firepower to the mat.
Five Hawkeyes entered last weekend's Midlands Championships unbeaten. Four of them -- 157-pounder Derek St. John (11-0) did not compete -- suffered their first loss of the season (Tony Ramos (133), Montell Marion (141), Grant Gambrall (197) and Bobby Telford (285)). Marion, Gambrall and St. John were all All-Americans last season.
NCAA 2010 champion Matt McDonough is 15-1 with eight pins at 125 pounds. The junior won his second Midlands title in three years.
The Cowboys will counter with 2011 NCAA champion Jordan Oliver, who is 10-0 at 133 pounds with 10 pins and brings a 39-match win streak into the weekend. All-American Jamal Parks (15-0) is also perfect at 149, as is Chris Perry, who is 11-0 at 184 but expected to compete at 174 the rest of the season. Junior 285-pounder Alan Gelogaev (15-1) has also been strong, recording eight pins and 11 bonus-point victories this season.
Oklahoma State's 197-pound situation is still up in the air. Transfer Cale Byers, a senior, is ranked among the top five in the country. However, teammate Blake Rosholt, younger brother of three-time NCAA champion Jake and three-time All-American Jared, beat Byers in the finals at the Reno Tournament of Champions in December. Byers took another loss in the Wyoming dual on Jan. 1.
Prognosticators will try and break down the match-ups weight-by-weight. Iowa favored here and Oklahoma State there, et cetera, et cetera. Plenty of hype has been built around the 133-pound bout where Oliver is scheduled to face Ramos, just a sophomore who is 15-1. In last season's 15-15 tie in Stillwater, Ramos sat in favor of Tyler Clark.
Iowa fans remember a heavy favorite in Mark Perry back in 2008. He fell to unheralded Jake Dieffenbach in a shocker. Another national champion, Oklahoma State's Eric Guerrero, suffered a similar fate to a young Doug Schwab in a thrilling 1998 dual inside Carver-Hawkeye.
It doesn't always happen, but upsets are a big part of this rivalry.
"This is a dual meet we will have to wrestle better than we have to win," said Smith. "We are favored at a couple, they are favored at some, then there is a bunch of matches that are certainly undetermined. Again, we will have to be at our best to win [Saturday].
"For a lot of our guys it will be the first time to have wrestled in an environment like [Carver-Hawkeye]. It's a dual that always has big crowds, and the fact that we are both ranked one and two means it's going to be another big crowd."
Oklahoma State leads the all-time series 25-18-2, including a 9-2-1 mark since 2000. The two schools are tied 10-10 all-time at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Need more numbers? Iowa State picked up a victory against powerhousArizona State on Tuesday night. It was the Cyclone program's 1,012th all-time to lead all Division I programs. Oklahoma State picked up numbers 1,010 and 1,011 on a road trip last weekend. Iowa has 898 victories entering the weekend.